Today is the summer solstice here in the Northern hemisphere. The sun is “standing still,” as the name of the day says. It has climbed as high into the sky at midday as it ever gets at this latitude, and that meridian height appears to stay the same for a few days, along with the places where it rises and sets. Of course this is an illusion: nothing is standing still. The only permanent “thing” in the universe is the flow of time. When we try to measure the “length” of time, what we actually measure is the rate of change of observable “things.” Time itself eludes our measurements.
I’ve been blogging about “the transition” in recent years, because many of us have noticed that the rate of change of things and systems in our world has itself changed, relative to the scale of a human lifetime. But in recent months my rate of posting has dropped off, as i’ve seen the folly of trying to keep up with the Great Acceleration, and have devoted more of “my” time to other follies. Turning Signs is one of them.
With the help of my colleagues in our weekly Study Circle (over Zoom), i’m revising some parts of the netbook to make (i hope) better sense of semiosis. Version 2.2.3 is now available for download, for those who want to read it offline.
There are other distractions these spring/summer days. We’ve just taken delivery of a trailerload of composted goat manure from our neighbour up the road. Moving it (by shovel and wheelbarrow) to the places in the gardens where it’s most needed will take a few days, using an hour or two in the morning and another in the evening when it’s not too hot to work. Such physical tasks make up the meditative part of my day, when i keep eyes and ears open while “opening the hand of thought” (as Uchiyama Roshi puts it). We’re also “spending” more time conversing with our neighbours and other networks. That leaves little time for writing things down, remarkable as life is these days.
Sorry, no time today to insert links as i usually do. Maybe i’ll post again when the equinox rolls around. Anyway, where there’s life, there’s semiosis, and some of its depths remain unexplored …
Last week’s study circle conversation was focused mainly on the middle parts of Turning Signs Chapter 2, down to the section on living signs. We’ll begin at that point next Saturday morning when we meet again. Here’s a little diagram of the secret life of flukes that might help us get a grip on polyversity.
Next Saturday’s gathering of the TStudy Circle will be looking through the first four sections of Chapter 2, down to here, more or less, depending on the conversation. Shake hands with Humpty Dumpty and find out why language is by far the greatest aid to understanding, and equally the greatest barrier.
Our next gathering of the TStudy circle Saturday morning, 28 January, at 10:30 Eastern, will wind up the first chapter, beginning here. The conversation so far has been most illuminating, and prompted me to make a few changes to the text, so i hope it’s a little more user-friendly than it was last year.
This final part of Chapter 1 brings us to the Anthropocene Apocalypse. I see that the Anthropocene Working Group is now trying to pick an exact date for the beginning of the Anthropocene (follow that link for today’s graphic). But the AWG already voted in 2019 that the primary guide for the base of the Anthropocene should be “one of the stratigraphic signals around the mid-twentieth century of the Common Era.” This would mean that the stratigraphic Anthropocene coincides roughly with the cultural Great Acceleration, and with my own lifetime so far. But i don’t suppose my birthdate in 1945 is on the shortlist for the exact beginning of the A-cene, so i guess the “fundamental Anthropocene dilemma” isn’t entirely my fault.
The Turning Signsstudy circle will meet again Saturday morning, January 21 at 10:30 Eastern time.
The reading will begin at this point in Chapter 1 and will include a Zen koan delivered by Dōgen zenji featuring a dialogue with a wild fox about cause and effect. This will take us into a conversation about turning words and signs and semiosis. We might even reach the apocalyptic end of the first chapter!
If you can’t make the circle, you can still leave a comment here …
Welcome to 2023, all. Much of my past year has gone into a complete overhaul of the reverse side of Turning Signs, culminating in the publication of TS 2.2, which is now online. After a few years of focusing mainly on the transition, and trying to make sense of this time of our lives, i’d like to dig deeper into some of the basic patterns of sense-making and choice-making that have evolved on this planet.
This is what Turning Signs is about – especially the patterns that we don’t usually pay attention to, because they are as familiar as the air we breathe, and therefore unnoticed. But after 22 years of gathering information and inspiration from a wide range of sciences, arts and worldviews, and sharing the results online, i’m hoping to engage in some live conversations with other people who can bring their own ideas to the dialogue, using the book to focus the discussion.
So i’m starting a study circle which will meet periodically (mostly via Zoom) so that small groups of us can exchange views on the basic concepts developed in Turning Signs. It’s all explained on a new page of this blog, which contains a link to my email so you can let me know if you’re interested.
The opening session will be Saturday morning, January 7, at 10:30, and will introduce a special kind of meditation that has emerged from Turning Signs. I’ll be using this blog to notify subscribers of upcoming study circle sessions, so you might want to subscribe even if you’re not ready to join the circle this week.
On this Thanksgiving Day of 2022, my partner Pam Jackson and I are especially grateful for the connections among people of Manitoulin Island which have evolved since we moved here in 2000.
In 2004 we started hosting “Movies that Matter,” inviting people for a pot luck dinner and movie on our home screen (now called the Honora Bay Free Theatre). These were often documentaries about ecological and/or social issues, followed up with lively conversations among the half dozen or so people who were there. Differences of opinion only made it more lively, because we actually listened to each other and respected our differences.
A much bigger and more ambitious gathering was hosted in 2009 by Justin Tilson, founder of Manitoulin Permaculture, at the Honora Bay ski hill lodge. It was inspired by the Transition town movement and brought together a wide range of people working to transition our society into an ecologically sustainable, carbon-neutral way of living. Justin also launched an e-mail group called Resilient Manitoulin, to help us connect with each other. As an administrator of the group, I’ve had the privilege of welcoming scores of new members over the past 13 years. (And as a blogger, doing what I can to further the Transition.)
As a contact medium, email is no substitute for in-person gatherings where people can converse in real time (body language and all). But that kind of gathering became problematic in 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit, and many real-time conversations moved to phone or Zoom (which I’ll get to in a later post). Besides, email has its own advantages. An email dialogue is not limited to a particular time and place, and a message can be considered and reconsidered before it’s sent to others, who can also take their time responding (or choose to ignore it). Whole conversations can be saved “for the record” and revisited later. And email can be used to give notice of in-person gatherings planned for the future.
Resilient Manitoulin has grown to include over 330 members, who often use it to request or share rides, tools, goods and services – all at no cost beyond that of an Internet connection and the device connected to it. Social media such as Facebook can also be used for this kind of connection, and they too are “free” to access – but this “freedom” has a hidden social cost, which I’ll get to in my next post.
Today is the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. It’s a day to honour the children who never came home from residential schools, and to learn from the survivors of those schools and their descendants. There are many events planned across the country to observe the day and remind the settler community of the horrors imposed on First Nations peoples by colonial powers including the governments of Canada.
I’m hoping to contribute something to the Reconciliation process here on M’nidoo M’nissing by taking part in the 13th annual Six Foot Festival organized by Debajehmujig (October 13-15, 2022 at Debajehmujig Creation Centre in Manitowaning). The theme this year is Community Connections, including connections between First Nations people and settlers/immigrants like me. I’ll be posting more about this over the next couple of weeks.
Dear subscribers, i sent this invitation to our local (Manitoulin Island) email group this morning, and decided to include you as well.
I’d like to invite you to a new book club for readers of Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel The Ministry for the Future. It’s set in the immediate future on planet Earth, and the fictional situation is very much like what’s going on around us now.
It’s a gripping story with ecological, psychological, technological, political, ethical and spiritual dimensions. The chapters are mostly short, each with its own point of view, reflecting the diversity of human (and other) viewpoints. The book is widely available in print, Kindle and audiobook formats if you can’t find a copy to borrow.
There are various format options for the book club meetings too. I’m thinking of an in-person gathering at my place (the Honora Bay Free Theatre), perhaps every second Saturday morning, but this can be combined with a Zoom meeting at the same time for those far from Honora Bay (or even from Manitoulin Island). This can continue regardless of changes in public health guidelines.
That regular time and venue won’t be a good fit for everyone, so we could also have pop-up sessions at other times and places (and/or via Zoom) as requested by club members. If needed, I can set up an email list so members can inform each other about upcoming sessions. There is of course no charge and no obligation for club members, except to respect each other’s viewpoints during the conversations. I imagine it might take a few months to talk our way through the book, starting about two weeks from now.
If you are interested, let me know by replying privately to this and i’ll get back to you.