Pros & Cons of Living Authentically (Bom bom bom insert Dramatic Music)

Oh the Pros and Cons of living authentically! As if everything can be divided up that Pro and Con way. Well, it’s a starting point. The argument here is not a binary woodchopper devouring a tree, the sawdust to press into fuel pellets of Self. It’s a pine tree to climb on, smell and absorb the scent, and occasionally taste the bark. Many parts are edible.

Rick Roderick’s eight 1993 lectures, The Self Under Siege: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (available on YouTube) are a treat. His winning personality and West Texas illustrations make difficult topics easier to follow. The topical references feel antique, mostly, but I remember how pertinent they felt at the time. Roderick’s foil of “conformity” in this lecture also feels antique to me. I discuss this in my sidebar in red, below.

At ~38:00, the Pro: the authentic life is one in which you don’t flee from your destiny, but one in which you shape it–as much as you can given your historical and other limitations.

At ~39:50, the Con: We don’t want a narrative of our selves that’s based merely on authenticity because we know too many authentic swine.

The lecture frames authenticity as acting with intention versus acting with conformity. This doesn’t answer all the questions about authenticity. Not directly explored in this lecture: is there an authentic self at all? Maybe one could infer that there is none, that we are only thrown from nothingness into a life with context and framing to then resist as we judge proper, as authenticity-builders, but I think this needs further examination.

Sidebar: how the standards of conformity have changed since 1993! Most everyone seems in flux, most ways of life overturned and toppled and toppled again, it seems almost quaint at first. Then if I look a little deeper, it seems that the conformity now is not the treadmill of a Stairmaster, which Rick Roderick mocks repeatedly in this lecture, but the treadmill of trying to keep up with change. Imagine a cartoon animal here running, feet a-blur.

If our feet constantly slip and stumble over the ever-moving treadmill, and with arms out awkwardly we try (whoah, click, whoah!) to keep up and maintain dignity? The slip is inevitable, the dignity is not.

And given our fragility and inevitable series of micro-failures,  of course we humanly aspire to enjoy and thrive from the changes! But it takes time for our primate resistance to understand that every pro of change comes with a con (the easier the communication, the more shrill the silence). SO… what then does that mean for the quest of authenticity?

How sad for us that Rick Roderick died in 2002. I’d like to know what he thought about today.

See the notes section for The Partially Examined Life’s excellent outline that summarizes the lecture.

Here is a complete text outline of Rick Roderick’s Self Under Siege lectures. This, Masters of Suspicion, is the first YouTube lecture in the series.

Also see–

A learned review of the philosophical history of Authenticity.

Of course:

And hear a sweet, gloomy song that quotes from RR’s Heidegger lecture. (Ilija Ludvig – Another Day Full of Dread.) I like the mocking ghosts at the end.

Published in: on March 23, 2018 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Ficus Triangularis provides new angle to #novel LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT!

A book’s panorama, half a circle, or one hundred eighty degrees of angles in 7 pages–that’s an uncompromising 25.7 degrees each page from editor Ficus Trangularis! Here are the page pictures of the new Introduction to my novel LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT! At a later time I may be able to post the text as text.Ficus p7

Ficus p8Ficus p9

FICUS p10_Ficus p11Ficus p12Ficus p13

Published in: on March 21, 2018 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  

RallyBird Baseball Board Game Coming This Spring 2018

As my baseball board game advances toward market readiness, I created a new blog for it… . I’m tweeting about it at @RallyBirdBasbal . Thank you.

After coming back to lead in the top of the 9th, I lost the game session pictured below in the bottom of the 9th. Blue had a walk-off rally. And it hurt! But I had a moment there.

Published in: on March 18, 2018 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

My voice like a dry, crispy crackling leaf! (#Interview on the KBOO #Bike Show on March 7th, 2018. A chat about my #novel, Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest)

If you click the link below, you can listen to a recording of the broadcast interview. We talk about Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest and related topics. I was the second guest, so I start about halfway through the recording.

I would like to make a point here is that when we measure the pros and cons of our methods of urban growth, we should measure it against alternative growth methods, not a frozen moment of perpetual no-growth, not magical thinking, and not a reactionary “when I was young” statement of natural human nostalgia. In other words, for Portland, it’s not Infill vs Yesteryear, it’s Infill vs. Sprawl.

You can’t tell me sprawl doesn’t also increase costs, cause problems and inflict pain. I am interested in your ideas about how to have a decent, modern civilization without growth, but I haven’t heard a single one. (Here’s a good point to read some Schopenhauer about the remorseless striving of the Blind Will of nature.) This problem, the problem of growth, is what my novel tries to explore. I don’t know if there is a solution. Until then, I vote for conscious, intentional humane growth that seeks economies of scale that make urban resources work best. As far as I can tell, this leads to a fun place to live.

Click here if you want to hear the crackle of my dry leaf of a voice:

Here’s a picture of me at KBOO waiting my turn… sorry for the shades. My lenses hadn’t yet cleared.


Big thanks to my hosts Alon and April!


Published in: on March 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

#Cicero a Hero a-No.

Impatient with Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables, I read two books on Cicero. Anthony Everett’s Cirero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician (2003) flowed pretty well, and so did Anthony Trollope’s Life of Cicero (1880). Everett moves his prose lens back and around to give context of that turbulent time, and also covers some details aside of Cicero such as the horrors of the Colosseum. This means if you are familiar with Roman history, you’re going to have to read through repeat material before the book returns to Cicero. Both Trollope and Everett go through Cicero’s court cases, the famous Verra, the rhetoric of which made him famous (as Cicero wanted). His words are indeed effective.

Fame opens the gates to power. Court rhetoric lead naturally to politics. So this part of the life of Cicero becomes the story of a politician. A remarkable strength of Cicero the political leader was his resistance to corruption. This was at a time when the state acquired funds through tax farming, leasing out to governors the power to tax. You can imagine the thievery this system encouraged. Cicero, however, was honest.

In a time of successive civil wars, in part Haves vs Have Nots ( optimates vs populares ), Cicero had a role. Class war was only a part cause. The deeper problem was the failure of the Roman Republic to have a means of growth in size without growth in instability. I did not detect any sign that Cicero sensed this. Rhetoric is strong at finding advantageous arguments, and has little role for vision or understanding that does not support the immediate goal. While he he held hopes of going back to the old ways, his comprehension of the situation seems to me limited to power, personalities and political parties. This tempers my appreciation of his prose… but maybe that’s not fair; I should just his words by what they do offer, if I can.

My main problem with Cicero was that as Consul, ruling under martial law, he captured conspirators against the Republic. What to do with them? Hold them for trial, or execute them.

Imagine the accomplishment of the Roman Republic, its hatred of the tyranny of kings, the revered assertion the right to trial of its citizens. Now imagine the Republic is under threat from within and without (the Catiline Conspiracy). You want to save the Republic. Yes, under martial law, you have the power to execute your prisoners without trial. It’s expedient, sets an example, and prevents them from doing future harm. It’s even popular, for now. But how can you not foresee that by doing so, you’re doing harm to the Republic yourself? How can you not see that this is a different kind of corruption? Julius Caesar, for one, warned against the executions. I think here again Cicero missed a chance to shore up the cracking Republic, instead putting a wedge in one of the cracks. Since some of his contemporaries understood this, I think this critique stands.

Much later, after the next wave of Roman civil wars, Cicero the politician suffered exile, adjusted his alliances to changing fortunes, and sat down to write his treatises that helped build the fame for which he’s revered today. I am still willing to try to learn and appreciate from this tradition. But I won’t forget that when tested, he chose extrajudicial execution. (I append one of Professor Sandler’s lectures on Cicero below.)



Published in: on March 9, 2018 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  

“The perfect story for our times. Democracy is a fragile ideal, at best, & human nature oftentimes wars against it, much to its own peril.” 1st #book #review of a #novel that “helps us think deeply about our time” LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT!


LELO Review 1 of 3

LELO Review 2 of 3.png

LELO Review 3 of 3.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 4.28.24 PM.png

Here you can pick up a paper book version of LAMP EYES, LOOK OUT!

It’s available on Kindle here.

Further paper and ebook versions will arrive soon.

Published in: on February 2, 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

My latest #baseball #board game graphics…

box-top-wrap Version2

This is my provisional box cover art

jumbo-card 7

Example of an At Bat card, a Grounder Right. Watch out for the Double-Play!

jumbo-card 17OUT1

“Yer OOOooUUUUT!!!”


Front side. Defensive coach places six of these (with different values) on the board’s zones. This is a chunky two-inch tile that makes a clacking noise when you slap it on the board to intimidate the batter.


This is the back side… when things start to go wrong for the defense. Sometimes the wheels fall off the bus…


Roll your mouse cursor over each illustration below for commentary…

If you  don’t want to write down the score, you can use these 2-inch tiles to keep track of runs.

The rules are in progress! It’s a different kind of technical writing challenge. I’m on it! I’m hoping to make this available to you this spring…

Published in: on January 31, 2018 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Shocking Perturbations of the Idle & Innocent Kind (#Baseball-ish Intimations)

I have a prototype of a baseball board game in sample production. I have my usual unwarranted optimism about it, even enthusiasm!  Still, it offers minor relations of the Fallen world. Ideas are one thing, but making them practical–well, it takes care, and compromise.

Game on! — I hope, yes, before the next season starts.

Here is a production test of a box top… Stay tuned!Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 6.50.14 PM.png

Published in: on January 25, 2018 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Troubled but Magnificent Raptor Metaphor as #Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s THE MARBLE FAUN (1860)

My metaphorical review delivered as a phone text:



Here is (the now-neglected) poet James Russel Lowell’s perspicacious 1860 review in The Atlantic:

Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 1.24.09 PM

Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 1.24.27 PM

Screen Shot 2018-01-25 at 1.25.05 PMScreen Shot 2018-01-25 at 1.25.15 PM

Next on my list, a certain house with a certain number of gables.


Published in: on January 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Oblique Angles in Nathaniel #Hawthorne’s BLITHEDALE ROMANCE and Holbein’s “The Ambassadors”

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.55.37 AM

Why does Nathaniel Hawthorne’s BLITHEDALE ROMANCE, (1852), ostensibly about a socialist utopian community, visit and revisit the social phenomena of spiritualist “veiled ladies”? Compare this fume of gossamer, psychology and humbug to the quantity and price chart of hardware and seeds in Thoreau’s “Economy”, the longest chapter in Walden (1854), his solitary attempt at intentional living.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.27.06 AM

Hawthorne’s preface to THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1851) claims a definition of Romance as a veiled form of literature. It’s an artistic legend where the author asserts a “latitude” away from realism, but is wise to “mingle the marvelous rather as a slight, delicate, and evanescent flavor.” Mid-novel, BLITHEDALE’s character Zenobia tells the tale of the Veiled Lady using similar words:  “the silvery veil covering her from head to foot; so impalpable, so ethereal, so without substance, as the texture seemed, yet hiding her every outline in an impenetrability…”

There’s textual evidence in BLITHEDALE to support Hawthorne’s awareness of spiritualism as pseudoscience, and that a woman’s veil has resonances with women’s rights. However, Hawthorne is more interested in the veil than any map toward progress. There is little if any reference to the plan of the Blithedale community, other than acknowledgment that it requires agrarian and domestic work. Indeed, the labor required is the easiest secured part of the dream. Miles Coverdale, the first person narrator, thrives under the regime of manual labor, as do the other men. In terms of work, the community is readily ideal. The communities’ problems lie elsewhere, within the faces behind the veil…

Hans Holbein’s painting “The Ambassadors” (1533) is a double portrait with still-life objects of worldly accomplishments. And yet… it includes a troubling, strange shape. which may be hard for an uninitiated viewer to understand.


Hawthorne’s “Custom House” introduction to THE SCARLET LETTER (1850) describes:

Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other. Ghosts might enter here, without affrighting us.

As Hawthorne’s self-defined genre of Romance thrums the liminal barriers between actual and imaginary, Holbein’s strange shape in “The Ambassadors” suggests another realm of understanding to the realistic portrait. The shape is a distorted projection perspective of a skull. The skull undermines everything that the painting seems to celebrate. I don’t know if everyone agrees that this disturbing element lifts it in interest and meaning, but it unquestionably adds a moral and spiritual dimension.


The Brook Farm experiment which inspired BLITHDALE lasted from 1844-1847. If the Blithedale phalanx is where the Actual and Imaginary met, the novel does not reveals an authorial definition of progress. What Hawthorne does instead is lift the secret of the Veiled Lady. This has its effect on the course of the novel, but what about progress? At the end of the novel, the narrator Coverdale muses years later…


As regards human progress (in spite of my irrepressible yearnings over the Blithedale reminiscences), let them believe in it who can, and aid in it who choose. If I could earnestly do either, it might be all the better for my comfort. As Hollingsworth once told me, I lack a purpose. How strange! He was ruined, morally, by an overplus of the very same ingredient, the want of which, I occasionally suspect, has rendered my own life all an emptiness.


There is a shape hidden at the foot of the Blithedale urge toward progress, a distorted projection of emptiness that lurks, skull-like. What is it that veiled lady mediums do? They speak with the dead…


I by no means wish to die. Yet, were there any cause, in this whole chaos of human struggle, worth a sane man’s dying for, and which my death would benefit, then—provided, however, the effort did not involve an unreasonable amount of trouble—methinks I might be bold to offer up my life. If Kossuth, for example, would pitch the battlefield of Hungarian rights within an easy ride of my abode, and choose a mild, sunny morning, after breakfast, for the conflict, Miles Coverdale would gladly be his man, for one brave rush upon the levelled bayonets. Further than that, I should be loath to pledge myself.


Does a veil guarantee a substance beneath it? Probably Hawthorne intends more than one meaning when Coverdale admits, “Further than that, I should be loath to pledge myself.” It is not only a wise statement, but also self-condemnation, for he had just admitted the emptiness of his life. It is only in the last sentence of the novel that Coverdale unveils a secret about himself–an effort he did not make perhaps because of “unreasonable amount of trouble”–that suggests another perspective on his departure from Blithedale and the dire events that followed. The narration itself is a distorted projection.

You can read BLITHEDALE ROMANCE here for free.

You can listen to BLITHEDALE ROMANCE here for free.


Published in: on January 4, 2018 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment