Rudy's Blog

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Teep and Peep

August 11th, 2020

My original notion for my novel-in-progress Teep was that it would be a near-future Silicon Valley high-tech thriller. In my 2019 public talks in Miami and Pisa, Italy, I claimed that commercial telepathy isn’t all that far off. And Teep will, among other things, show a plausible path for this future tech. It’s useful to distinguish between what we might call peep, or lo-fi telepathy—and teep which is the h-fi telepathy of SF dreams.


Empty bulletin board near UC Berkeley Sather gate.

The most accessible type of “peep” is silent telephone calls. My device picks up my brain’s subvocal speech signals, converts them into audio files, sends the files across the web to your device, which converts the audio files into signals in the auditory nerve of your brain. You experience the signals as sound. You hear my voice in their head. While I’m at it, I can use my ear as a mic for you to eavesdrop through. And I can peep video to you as well. I tap the feed off my optic never and send it to your optic nerve. You’re experiencing my life as if I’m a remote.


“Pinchy’s Big Date” acrylic on canvas, July, 2020, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

There’s a whole history of the remote viewing trope. Living someone else’s experiences. Like in that very cool at the start (but then over-long) movie. Strange Days.

Santa Cruz. From his seat, the driver sings Frank Sinatra songs.

In Teep, I’m talking about using a bio device called a psidot for this. To say this is a new idea would be cryptoamnesia , on my part, that is, a case of forgetfully thinking an old idea is fresh. I’ve written for years about a soft, intelligent plastic device that you wear on your neck for silent online access. I call it an uvvy. See, for instance, my 2004 blog post “Cyborgs, Future of Humanity.” And I write about uvvies in novels like Freeware and Jim and the Flims.


Room in a room at Monkeybrains Oakland warehouse.

By the way, I found that 2004 blog post I just mentioned by using my “Search Rudy’s Lifebox” web page to searcah for places where I’ve mentioned “uvvy.” Kind of cool to have this prototype online lifebox actually help me in planning a novel like Teep, which will include lifeboxes!

Anyway, the old uvvy is made of computational smart plastic, rather than being a living organism like the new psidot. The Teep novel will have both uvvies and psidots. The psidots will be edging closer to full, deep, telepathy of teep. The uvvies are like cheap old-model smart-phones and the psidots are the way-cool new ones. Naturally a psidot has a little emulation of an uvvy inside it.

Before going on to full teep, let’s talk about how to achieve peep, or silent phone calls and remote presence—these being the somewhat conceivable near-future uvvy tech. I have a ground rule that none of my future teep devices should require sending wires or tendrils through your skull and into your brain. And we’ll have no brain-implanted sensors. Otherwise, well, otherwise it’s not fun to think about.

This said, I do in fact have a brain-invading teep-device protoype called “stumble” in my Big Echo ezine tale, “The Mean Carrot,” which is a draft of Chapter One of Teep. Stumble is a shelf-mushroom-type fungus that sends tendrils or hyphae deep into the hapless users’ brains.  But we’ll move on to sea slug psidots in Chapter Two!

Anyway, back to my original, earlier teep or peep devices: uvvies. These are soft lumps of intelligent computational piezoplastic. My uvvy on the back of my neck reads the faint ambient signals of my brainwaves, and it uses vortex signals to feed others’ brainwaves into my head.

Not only can an uvvy do silent phone calls and remote viewing, there are uvvy apps for tingles and smells and tastes, too. And of course porn, spam, and ads—and blockers, filters, and firewalls. But that low, grasping stuff isn’t my bag. My eye is on the true teep. The hard part that uvvies can’t do.

True hi-res teep would be where you’re sharing your inner visions, and your emotions, and your body sensations, and your rich thoughts. As I like to say, true teep would mean. for once in your life, being understood.


Rudy at 17, by Rob Lewine,  at Swarthmore College, 1963.

Part of the full teep thing, or even the more light-weight peep, is that it helps to have a lot of context on the person you’re trying to communicate with. That is, a possible problem with full brain-link teep is that you might have trouble deciphering the intricate structures of someone else’s thoughts. Like you need to know something about a country’s culture to understand the language.

I’m always talking about these things called lifeboxes, a lifebox being an online model or database of you—like maybe everything you wrote, or interviews with you, or recordings. Sharing lifeboxes could help make sense of another person’s internal brain patterns. So when receiving the audio, video, and other signals from someone, it would help if the bits were annotated with hyperlinks into the other user’s lifebox. Have the notes be realtime and interactive.


Bismuth crystal from Isabel.

There’s a variety of ways to segue from peep towards teep. Another angle is to send multi-track audio. A choir of the sender’s internal voices. The receiver hears a fugue of several tracks talking at once. It’s an effect I recall from, for instance, the supernal Firesign Theater album, We’re All Bozos on This Bus. And, again you’ve got interactive lifebox context whispering tips on how to understand the fugue.

Another approach to teep is say, to hell with it, we need some woo-woo quantum action. That’s what I did in my telepathy novel, The Big Aha. But maybe multiple tracks and multiple sensory modes can be enough. And the deep core thing, the “I am”—well, as I’ve always aid, that’s bascially the same for everyone, modulo emotional coloring

Oh, one more angle. I can chip away at sharing emotions via teep by using something like P. K. Dick’s notion of a “Penfield mood organ,” A device that plays your feelings. The “organ stops” could be emotion-generating hormones or, more indirectly, stimuli to regions like the adrenal gland, the thymus, and whatever else.

But I’ll open to teeping via quantum states. Many overlapping classical states in one. A vibe. Biotech ought to be good at that. I talked about this in my story “Juicy Ghost,” which is eventually going to be a chapter of Teep.

Meanwhile, I’m seriously trying to imagine telepathy, and to get, yet again, some kind of handle on what’s going on in my mind. Focusing on my flow of consciousness, thinking about how it would be to share that via true, deep telepathy. What’s in my mind? Well, this morning I typed this:


“Two Lizards” acrylic on canvas, July, 2020, 49” x 39”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I hear Sylvia doing dishes upstairs, and her footsteps. Machines in the distance outside. Uneasy about having cleared brush off our hillside last week. I liked the brush. Tightness in my chest? The raspberry red of the quilt Sylvia made. Faint ringing in my ears. Memories of cicadas in Lynchburg and Louisville. The stacking of the dishes makes a two-step sound like walking. I see the shape of our house in three dimensions, the room with Sylvia is illuminated. The frames of my glasses constrict my vision. Take them off. Physical sense of myself typing, and the flesh of my body, and my crossed shinbones, and the sea-swell of my breaths. Some trivial device beeps nearby. I visualize my mind as a dark velvety zone inside my skull. Make a painting? With an R. Crumb oaf profile outline. What are the icons inside? A dog barking, a motor scooter, more footsteps. My skull is small. My tingling brain, and in the heart of it is my awareness, always there. Does yours feel the same? Itch, scratch, hair. Phosphenes in my visual field. Get into the shower. Glorious symphony of tunable water sounds. Daily the same.

“Billy’s Book” by Terry Bisson (Illos by Rudy)

August 3rd, 2020

I just spent a week or so getting Terry Bisson‘s wonderful volume, Billy’s Book back into print in three editions from my Transreal Books. We did an edition in 2011, but now we’re back, and better than ever.

This cover is by Lisa Roth. Book summary:

True crime for kids. Or is it the happy childhood you never had? Thirteen tales. A wry, fantasy children’s book to make adults laugh. Reminiscent of such greats as James Thurber and Lemony Snicket. Penned by SF troublemaker Terry Bisson, and illustrated by transreal cyberpunk Rudy Rucker.

Author Bisson himself. Here’s our first three buy links:

Billy’s Book: True Crime for Kids is out in two forms. Firstly as a text-only paperback on Amazon. The text-only paperback will also show up in other online stores.

Billy’s Book: True Crime for Kid is, secondly, available as an illustrated ebook on Amazon, and will be on other sites such as Apple Books, B&N, Kobo, etc. Universal ebook link.

Billy after the ants ate him… The book is also available as a large-format kids picture book. Here comes our fourth buy link.

Billy’s Picture Book. Large color-illustrated paperback on Amazon.

The cover, and interior illos, are by Rudy Rucker.


Idealized image of Rudy.

Go git one! Or the Withc will come for you. (And, yes, her name is supposed to be spelled WITHC. See T. Bisson, op. cit.)

Quotes from Recent Reads, plus Paintings.

June 27th, 2020

Shelter in place has now lasted nearly four months. I’ve been writing on some stories, though not as much as I might normally do. And taking photos. And I’ve painting, much more than usual…thirteen canvases since the pandemic kicked in.  Check out the Notes on my Paintings page if  you want to read  about the five new paintings shown in today’s post.

Also I’ve been reading lots and lots of Kindle books. When I remember to, I highlight passages in the Kindle books I read. And then it’s possible to export the highlighted phrases into a document. So…for today’s post we’ll have photos, paintings, and quotes from the books I’ve been reading.

A word of caution, for those of you not familiar with my posting style. Generally there are no planned specific connections between the text fragments and the images. I collage them in at random, working rapidly, just being sure not to have overly similar images right next to each other.

I’m a firm believer in the Surrealist principle that Anything goes with Anything. Often, but not always, there will seem to be some synchronistic connection between an image and the text next to it. But I didn’t design it that way. That’s just the cosmos at work. Dancing with us.

“With My Friends” acrylic on canvas, May, 2020, 24” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

WOLFBANE by Fredrik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

“All that Tropile knew was that, for the first time in nearly a year, he had succeeded in catching each stage of the nine perfect states of water-coming-to-a-boil in its purest form. It was like … like … well, it was like nothing that anyone but a Water Watcher could understand. He observed. He appreciated. He encompassed and absorbed the myriad subtle perfections of time, of shifting transparency, of sound, of distribution of ebulliency, of the faint, faint odor of steam. Complete, Glenn Tropile relaxed all his limbs and let his chin rest on his breast-bone. He was the water boiling … and the boiling water was he. He was the gentle warmth of the fire, which was—which was, yes, itself the arc of the sky. As each thing was each other thing; water was fire, and fire air; Tropile was the first simmering bubble and the full roll of Well-aged Water was Self, was—more than Self—was— The answer to the unanswerable question was coming clearer and softer to him. And then, all at once, but not suddenly, for there was no time, it was not close—it was.”

Ginger root like a raygun.

“It was Tropile, all right staring with concentrated, oyster-eyed gaze at the fire and the little pot of water it boiled. Staring. Meditating. And over his head, like flawed glass in a pane, was the thing Haendl feared most of all things on Earth. It was an Eye. Tropile was on the very verge of being Translated … whatever that was.”

V. by Thomas Pynchon

“The laugh could only have come from Profane’s onetime shipmate, Pig Bodine. Profane looked round. It had. Hyeugh, hyeugh approximates a laugh formed by putting the tonguetip under the top central incisors and squeezing guttural sounds out of the throat. It was, as Pig intended, horribly obscene.”

Abandoned building, 1324 Church St., Lynchburg, VA, where I rented a room 82-86 and wrote four books, including WETWARE

“Was it home, the mercury-lit street? Was he returning like the elephant to his graveyard, to lie down and soon become ivory in whose bulk slept, latent, exquisite shapes of chessmen, backscratchers, hollow open-work Chinese spheres nested one inside the other? … But elephants have souls. Anything that can get drunk, he reasoned, must have some soul. Perhaps this is all soul means.”

“Con Edison had just shut off the electricity so all they had to look at each other by was one gas burner on the stove, which bloomed in a blue and yellow minaret, making the faces masks, their eyes expressionless sheets of light.”

“Low places in the square filled, the usual random sets of crisscrossing concentric circles moved across them. Near eight o’clock, the rain slackened off.”

“Magnetic Fields of the Milky Way Galaxy” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck

“I remembered how once, in that part of youth that is deeply concerned with death, I wanted to be buried on this peak where without eyes I could see everything I knew and loved, for in those days there was no world beyond the mountains. And I remembered how intensely I felt about my interment. It is strange and perhaps fortunate that when one’s time grows nearer one’s interest in it flags as death becomes a fact rather than a pageantry.”

“I discovered long ago in collecting and classifying marine animals that what I found was closely intermeshed with how I felt at the moment. External reality has a way of being not so external after all.”

No-parking cone that someone threw off the bridge into the creek where I like to walk.

“The pointers came to the wire mesh of the kennel, wriggling like happy snakes and sneezing with enthusiasm,”

“Pop’s Pipes” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

THE COUNTRY GIRLS by Edna O’Brien

“We sat, huddled over the fire, and talked, the way women who like each other can talk once the men are out of sight.”

“The sky is always blue in California, a piercing blue, and the pavements hot, and the tanned, predatory faces booming out their hearty nothings. I like rain and isolation…”

Mysterious, intriguing, Point Sur.

“The smile was nice, and I moved nearer and touched with my cheek the cloth of his gray, hairy overcoat.”

Above Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz.

“The music still reminded me of birds, birds wheeling out of a bush and startling the mellow hush of a summer evening; crows above an old slate quarry at home, multiplied by their own shadows, screaming and cawing incessantly.”

“It was getting dark and the air was full of those soft noises that come at evening—cows lowing, the trees rustling, the hens wandering around, crowing happily, availing themselves of the last few minutes before being shut up for the night.”


[Gunnar Vatvedt, hiking up Lexington Creek with me.]

“I suppose up to the time people die you think their lives will improve, or you’ll get on better with them, but once they’re dead you know neither thing is possible.”

“…a cramped restaurant with atrocious masks on the wall, and high stools that made no allowance for the small of the back.”

“Bicyclist” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 24” x 18”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

SIXTH COLUMN by Robert A. Heinlein

“General field theory predicts the possibility of at least three more entire spectra. You see, there are three types of energy fields known to exist in space: electric, magnetic, and gravitic or gravitational. Light, X-rays, all such radiations, are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Theory indicates the possibility of analogous spectra between magnetic and gravitic, between electric and gravitic, and finally, a three-phase type between electric-magnetic-gravitic fields. Each type would constitute a complete new spectrum, a total of three new fields of learning.”

Looking put at Washington Square from inside St. Peter & Paul Church, SF

“—I can do simple algebra, and I’ve had some calculus, though I haven’t used it for years, but I couldn’t make sense out of this stuff. It looked like Sanskrit; most of the signs were different and even the old ones didn’t seem to mean the same things. Look—I thought that a times b always equaled b times a. —Doesn’t it? —Not when these boys get through kicking it around.”


“Sometimes finds even the blind hand an acorn.”

“He encountered them proceeding down the main passage toward the laboratories. They had an enormous granite boulder. Scheer was supporting it clear of walls and floor by means of tractors and pressors generated by a portable Ledbetter projector strapped as a pack on his shoulders. Wilkie had tied a line around the great chunk of rock and was leading it as if it were a cow.”

SELECTED STORIES, 1968-1994 by Alice Munro

“I believed that writers were calm, sad people, knowing too much. I believed that there was a difference about them, some hard and shining, rare intimidating quality they had from the beginning..,”

GAUDY NIGHT, by Dorothy L. Sayers

“If only one could come back to this quiet place [Oxford], where only intellectual achievement counted; if one could work here steadily and obscurely at some close-knit piece of reasoning, undistracted and uncorrupted by agents, contracts, publishers, blurb-writers, interviewers, fan-mail, autograph-hunters, notoriety-hunters, and competitors; abolishing personal contacts, personal spites, personal jealousies…”

“Now we can get rid of this filthy old bombazine and show off our party frocks. “

“—She was frightfully sentimental inside, you know. — I know. She wormed round rather.”

“—Who mentioned Planck’s constant a little time ago? —I did, and I’m sorry for it. I call it a revolting little object.”

“—Isn’t the writing of good prose an emotional excitement? —Yes, of course it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it’s dead right, there’s no excitement like it. It’s marvellous. It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day, for a bit, anyhow.’”

“ ‘Are you writing any more books?’ Suppressing the rage that this question always rouses in a professional writer, Harriet admitted that she was. ‘It must be splendid to be able to write,’ said Mr. Arbuthnot. ‘I often think I could spin a good yarn myself if I had the brains. About the odd things that happen, you know. Queer deals, and that kind of thing.’”

“,,,punts and canoes, new-fettled for the summer term, began to put forth upon the Cherwell like the varnished buds upon the horse-chestnut tree…”

Chaotic tree shadows in Lexington Creek.

“Great golden phrases, rising from nothing and leading to nothing, swam up out of her dreaming mind like the huge, sluggish carp in the cool water of Mercury. One day she climbed up Shotover and sat looking over the spires of the city, deep-down, fathom-drowned, striking from the round bowl of the river-basin, improbably remote and lovely as the towers of Tir-nan-Og beneath the green sea-rollers, [and she reached] that still centre where the spinning world Sleeps on its axis…”

“She had got her mood on to paper—and this is the release that all writers, even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their heads no further.”

Live chairs talking to each other.  “This table’s taken.”

“It was wonderful to stand so above the world, with a sea of sound below and an ocean of air above, all mankind shrunk to the proportions of an ant-heap.”

“The storm held off till after Hall, except for threatenings and grumblings of thunder. At 10 o’clock the first great flash went across the sky like a searchlight, picking out roof and tree-top violet-blue against the blackness, and followed by a clap that shook the walls. Harriet flung her window open and leaned out. There was a sweet smell of approaching rain. Another flash and crash; a swift gust of wind; and then the swish and rush of falling water, the gurgle of overflowing gutters, and peace.”

Sketch of Lord Peter Wimsy. “He was a colourless shrimp of a child, very restless and mischievous, and always much too sharp for his age.”

“Leaving Earth” acrylic on canvas, June, 2020, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

CONSIDER PHLEBAS by Iain M. Banks

“I would prefer, though, if you called me by my name, and not just by that word you manage to make sound like an expletive: machine. I am called Unaha-Closp. Is it asking too much for you to address me as such?”

New edition of my art book!

High on Gnarl and Chaos

May 22nd, 2020

I’ve always been interested in enlightenment, or higher consciousness, or, put simply, getting high. But, by now I find it easier just to be high, instead of having to get high.

So how to stay high? There are no instructions. But for a starting point, why not assume that you already are high all the time—you just have to notice.

I mean, come on. We’re in a cloud of an octillion atoms that are waves in a Hilbert space of quantum foam. and we evolved from slime or something, and now we build hive cities and ride in machines? And you’re gonna tell me you’re not high?

It’s helps me to be high if I pay close attention to the now. Slalom past the remorse/yearning for the past or fear/longing for the future. Stare and hearken as if you were zonked.

Here we are. What’s up?

Well…right now, we seem to be crows. And it’s a miracle that anything exists at all. The endless roar of reality’s crashing wave. The air like clear jelly. We’re soaring over it.

Lacking a full-bore technorama physical wonder scene like this, I try to stay high by finding gnarl and chaos in my immediate surroundings. Piecing them together.

Is there a difference between gnarl and chaos? Not that much. It’s like noun versus verb. Generally chaos is applied to an ongoing process, a dynamical system, like the weather or a life or a double-jointed pendulum.

Gnarl, on the other hand, can refer to something static. Like the gnarly root of a redwood, or a grain of wood, or the shape of a wave (as opposed to its motion).

A chaotic system makes gnarly patterns. And if you want to try and generate a gnarly pattern, your process is going to be chaotic. So the two concepts are quite close.

The way that leaves and branches move in air currents is always a buzz-generator, how they never repeat, and yet are somewhat regular. There’s a mathematical reason for this.

Leaves and branches, if you break them down, can be visualized as made up of linked pendulums…like little pendulums attached to bigger pendulums and yet smaller pendulums dangling off the tip-ass end of the little pendulums. And linked, or compound, pendulums are always chaotic.

They used to sell these things for “executive toys” to put on desks. You’ve probably seen them.

Chaotic processes are unpredictable, but they aren’t exactly random. They wander around in the so-called phase space of all the possible configurations that the system might get into. But a chaotic process doesn’t visit every single one of its possible configurations. This becasue, once again, it’s not random. It hangs out on a certain set of behaviors that it “likes.” And this subset of the phase space is what’s called a chaotic attractor. The process dances around on its attractor in an unpredictable way

I’m not making this up. There’s a whole branch of science called chaos theory…it’s inspired by physics, biology, and chemistry, and it’s formulated in terms of math.

Chaos and gnarl lie in the zone between order and disorder.

If something repeats, it’s boring, dead, a waste of time. You know those little robo-music snippets they play in commercials these days, the same snippet over and over, nudge-nudge-nudge. The effin’ worst. Nowhere near chaos.

At the other extreme, you can get into a complete random scumble of dots, and that’s dull too. The crackle of radio hiss. Nothing happening there. Deep space telephone off the hook.

In between is gnarl and chaos. Life is chaos. Nature is gnarly. And so is good music! The vibrations and overtones of voices. The predictable yet ever-fresh progress through time. Surging on that chaotic dynamical system. Yah mon!

Chaos is the zone we live in: not precisely repeating, and not completely smeared out scuzz. It’s a catchy, heartening tune in between, a beautiful work of art.

That shape of bark you see above, it’s called a Zhabotinsky scroll, and you find it all over the place. Embryos, eddies in the water, tissues in your body, chemical reactions, air turbulence and even, I would hazard, the workings of your mind.

The Zhabo scroll is a good symbol of chaos. It’s a common strange attractor, that is, lots of complex processes converge on that shape.

When my grandchildren visit, we like to throw buckets of water in the air, and I marvel at the insanely rapid physical computations performed by the mass of liquid.

The other day, I crushed my shutter speed down to 1/4,000 of a second, and behold. Turns out the water makes a shape like the bill of a sawfish—I’m talking about the regularity of form in those scallops along the edge.

And for seventy years, I never noticed that. It happens too fast.

The scallops are a fine example of what we chaoticians call a strange attractor—which is, once again, a shape or behavior that a gnarly natural system tends to end up in.

Ocean waves are a really clear example of chaotic attractors. The spume, the rivulets, the giraffe-hide patches of foam.

Hydrodynamic chaos one reason I love to go to the beach, or to the Santa Cruz bluffs overlooking the sea. I go there to think about chaos. To gloat over the utter unpredictability of the detailed motions of water.

At home I can see it in our wading pool. Note the scalloped edge of splash sheet, the ribs in the sheet, the droplets that subdivide into smaller droplets.

Chaos is about the fusion of (a) unpredictability and (b) sameness. The hydrodynamic attractors are forms we see in the ocean and in our wading pools and our shower stalls and sink faucets…these attractors, these types of behavior are well known and we have names for them. Ripple, tube, splash, surf, wave, droplet, etc.

There’s another aspect of strange attractors. An irregular and chaotic undulation in water is really a pattern in space and time; a four-dimensional shape, if you will. But you can see interesting things by focusing on a lower-dimensional aspect of the process. Such as the 2D image of blobs of light reflected off the water’s surface.

We say we’re studying a “Poincare section,” of a chaotic system if we crush it down to a lower-dimensional projection.

Late in the 19th century, the mathematician Henri Poincare was trying to solve the “three body problem” of analyzing the full range of dynamical behavior that can occur when three bodies in space are orbiting each other…think of a planet and two large moons. These systems get into intricate chaotic behaviors.

If we think in terms of the positions and velocities of all three objects at once, with time thrown in, we’re talking about a so-called phase space with nineteen dimensions. Like I’m saying, Poincare proposed focusing on a lower dimensional “slice” of the full higher-dimensional pattern. The Poincare section.

With those three moving bodies, you might just graph the points where the objects pass through some randomly chosen reference plane. And you’d get an accumulating dust of points that sketches a lower-dimensional strange attractor.

I like to look at weird “caustic” reflection lines from light hitting a curved surface like my car, and moving on a wall. If the car isn’t moving, this isn’t really a chaotic dynamical system. It’s a static gnarly design. Kind of a Poincare section of the car’s shape.

I used to spend a lot of time designing computer simulations to create gnarly fractals. This is, like, a fifth-order Mandelbrot set. See my page on this jive.

I like to gloat over the massive CG crunch that goes into the lights and shadows and highlights in the visual field.

And I dig the freewheeling synch of external sounds with my thoughts and the things I see. When I remember to kind of slam on the mental synchronicity-perceiving connection-mode.

And spinning out this kind of happy-talk about gnarl and chaos…it gets me even higher.


“Cells Eating Viruses” acrylic on canvas, May, 2020, 28” x 22”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

Biology is of course totally chaotic. And I had this vague, totally inaccurate notion of healthy blood cells killing off viruses by eating them in a chaotic battle—and I painted it. Cheerful round cells, and the viruses looking like stick-and-ball molecules. Nice colors, lively action, happy feeling. Almost like a Mardi Gras crowd! If only.

Gnarl and chaos very big in nature. Tulips are still alive for days after you put them in a vase, and they twine and bend and dance…chaotically, that is, unpredictably (in detail) but in certain natural “strange attractor” patterns (overall).

These ferns on a bank of moss are a kind of Poincare section of the temporal growth and dissemination of the plants across this little biome. A gnarly— and oh-so-gorgeous—freeze-frame of growth.

And how about this row of trees on a ridge. Chaotic process of geology for the ridge, chaotic growth for the arrangement of trees. For sure the cloud embodies a chaotic process. Shaped into a gnarly strange attractor.

Being with the trees, the sea, the sky, it’s paradise. But you don’t always get to be there. Sometimes it helps to make things up.


“Astral Travel” acrylic on canvas, May, 2920, 24” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I painted this in the eighth week of quarantine in the pandemic of 2020. For an outing, my wife and I drove to Lick Observatory on nearby Mount Hamilton…and were barely allowed to get out of our car. I took in the uplifting view, and spotting a rusty iron chest set into the ground, I thought of my heart and mind and soul locked into the dull prison of shelter-in-place.

Driving home, we admired the bird’s eye view of the fields and mountains. And I thought of a brain in a cube, traveling. To make the painting fun, I put sky and mountain ranges on the both sides—with no clear notion of up and down—so that now we’re looking at an astral traveler who nears an agricultural asteroid. I had fun designing the quilt of fields; I tried to make each shade of green/yellow different.

Me now.

Me in 1965.

This week, my old friend Rob Lewine sent me this weathered photo of me at Swarthmore college. Unwashed hair, plump cheeks, eager smile. Happy to be loafing and drinking and having new friends and meeting women. Ah, youth. Everything so new. Not a care in the world.

It’s been a nice, gnarly, chaotic run. Thank you!


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