Marc's Reflection on Aikido & True Play

Entries from March 2017

March 15th, 2017 · No Comments


v. Hating.

n. Hatred.

Unacceptable, historically.

To get to hatred.

Not beyond.

Not sublimated.

Eased in through overwhelming sadness–just a warm up.

Barriers down.

Hate, taste it, get the visceral(1) feel of it.

How can I claim moral superiority over something I refuse to feel?

No victory here, only safety through avoidance and ignorance.

Going beyond thinking.

Going beyond righteousness this time.


Assignment: “500-word footnote on a single word”



noun: an ancillary piece of information printed at the bottom of a page.

synonyms: note, marginal note, annotation, comment, gloss; Aside, incidental remark, digression (informative footnotes”



Yeah visceral. Meat and bones. Organs. Of course, the publicly acclaimed heart and brain but also the liver, spleen, tongue, pancreas, brain, lungs and the gut. Sausage covering.

Viscera don’t get their due: Uncontrollable. Life giving. Capable of sudden surprises, always bad surprises. Unconscious. Hidden. Unpresentable. Back shelf at the butchers. Cooks and mothers know the secret. Butchers too of course.

Visceral: Fear, of course, the embodiment of fear, but the quieter side of things too. Digestion, rest, growth; all out-of-sight, all un-proclaimed. All dominated on the surface by a talking mind that claims dominion. A lie of course, but who can complain. We don’t have the language that is claimed to be the “highest function”. We are held together, ironically supporting that wording thing farthest from the ground, by slow nerves and slower hormones transported by rivers and streams, unfit for the internet–the fast chatty and truly crazy making neural network. Of course, the viscera do their work in silence, but the loud one, the meta-systemic brain, can scare the viscera to death, truly and literally. The loud one has a job, but it does not know what it is. It has lost its way, in the noise, in the cacophony of voices talking over one another, selling something or the other.

That loud one had a job. It was supposed to be making peace and food and keeping us safe. We can do a lot working together, but if the loud one only hears himself, believes only in his made-up stories, from purloined comic books and proffered bibles, well things can get too difficult for us viscera. We the embodied self, lose our identity, our self-assurance. Our immunity, your immunity, becomes auto immunity, self-destruction. Vascular disease: strokes and heart attacks and gangrene. Cancers of just about everything and miraculously even more—truly creative. Skin becomes porous. The cats are out of the bag then. It’s just a matter of time. Whose time? You thought there was a contract with a guarantee; in the fine print, you never read. Well the viscera do have voices, do have a language and you can hear, feel, sense it but it is on the other side of the brain, a world and more away; ignored by the taking jelly across the divide. Shut the fuck up, will you. Be very, very still. Very quiet. For a really long time. You will not recognize it at first. It is not what you think you are looking for.  Words about it are not helpful. Just shut the fuck up. Please for your sake, and the sake of your viscera who are the bigger, quieter part of you; pound for pound almost all of you. A near infinity of chemistry and physiology never missing a beat, never confused, never showing up late, totally balancing every moment without, no despite, “you” –if “you” are that talking jelly thing that only recognizes words—tragically, mostly loud words aimed directly at your bank account.

Viscera: Meditation is not about enlightenment. It is about shutting the fuck up and letting the viscera have a moment, without the fucking words always abstracting the signal down to some few bits and bytes on the narrowest of calculated channels, devoid of Brownian motion, devoid of receptors making love with transmitters, devoid of Epigenetics managing the monstrous otherwise psychotic snake. She is keeping that multibillion dollar, deified snake in check; reading from it only what the viscera, and the even more wordless environment, need in each moment. Confuse that librarian and shit happens. Call the doctors. They will sell you hope and stuff until the viscera can no longer cope. They’ll sell you the best modern technology can offer, but no silence–until the big silence.

Shut up, up there.

Give it a rest.

629-word footnote


The Engine of Life: The Humble Homeostat

March 13th, 2017 · No Comments


One of three engines of evolution, whether local or global.

The other two are 1) nested recursions, and 2) the small set of functions making up the viable system model.

Homeostats are the little clockworks what make it all possible–make life possible.

Homeostats are the learning machines. They are the trial and error mechanisms that notice errors and rearrange themselves to avoid that specific error, or that type of error, in the future.

Homeostats continuously compile sets of safe playing fields where they recognize the game and quickly abandon one field for a more suitable field, as they approach the side lines. As they are pushed to the side lines they hop to another game, hopefully a safer game, like moving between chess and checkers, football and basketball. They find a game whose playing rules are compatible with the set of players and situations that happens to have shown up.

Homeostats are the ultimate magic that allows any two participants to adjust themselves to one another so that they can continue playing together. The most generic partnership is an individual (generically defined) and the environment that sustains the individual—its ecosystem (and its egosystem).

There must be early warnings—fear, attention, nervousness–involved for this to work. Go to sleep at the wheel and you are immediately off into the ditch or worse.

There must be some way of remembering past experiences, good and bad. This recall mechanism must have evolved or must be installed or developed. Warning signs must be placed near the edges.

As an aside, I think the ability to stay near the dangerous edges is a huge advantage for any learning machine because that is where the learning occurs. Suggestion: Don’t jump to another game before you really have to–understand this one as much as you can before you jump. Inevitably you will want to come back to this game when the situation and the players are right. The more you know about this field and this game, the longer you can operate there.

Homeostats are conversations between people or other homeostaticly capable entities. Environments learn too.

Connections that change a list into a system. Interactions, that is feedback connections, create nonlinear systems from a list of parts. Homeostatic connections create living systems from nonlinear interacting systems.

Complex entities are made up of many homeostaticly connected entities. The homeostats are of course “things” that connect other kinds of things and functions. They are the way interactions learn. Smarter than billiard balls. Smarter than drunken adults or unskilled children playing bumper cars for the delight of the crash. Homeostats are designed (evolved) to avoid the crashes. To anticipate and avoid. Of course, they had to have the initial crash where they reset some parameters, i.e. learned and then began playing again to see if the random resetting of parameters made things better or worse. They remember. They can avoid worse options and choose better ones. Of course, the whole thing can become very nuanced, but that isn’t the problem you might expect. All you need to do is place the best homeostat available in the appropriate situation. You cannot, I repeat you cannot, pre-fill a homeostat with decisions. No, it must learn through experience and then it can be situated to advantage.

Don’t trust teachers to program your homeostats. They can provide some sense of early warning but they are always out of your context and necessarily either over or under worried. Attentiveness, love of attentiveness, is the essence of a successful homeostat. Of course, memory and agility are critical but not motive.

So why do I go on about homeostats? Because they are the moment-to-moment prime movers. The other two magic components are much larger, with much slower clocks. They are structural and the living parts of them are these homeostats and nothing else. No window dressing or ego or textbook replaces homeostats. No, it is just the hyper-attentional mechanism that notices danger, remembers both failures and successes and is always ready for the game–the games it keeps in its bag of tricks, in its collection of phase planes and phase spaces. Always ready for a good game with the environment or any opponent that wants to play. This is what life is all about. This is the self-organizing and ultimately self-creating mechanism of life. This is the actual engine of life. A kind of intelligent Brownian motion, but in this case an Ashbien motion.

Thank you, Mr. Ashby, for uncovering the source of life.

Thank you, Mr. Beer, for showing us how to organize our homeostats to make viable enterprises.




Willy-nilly (beginning a daily practice)

March 8th, 2017 · No Comments


Typing against the clock for 5 minutes, eyes closed. Without looking at my fingers. Like a long-distance runner stretching or doing sprints. A means of getting into the mood, getting into the habit. A discipline that precedes running, uh, writing. It is an exercise, a practice, not the real thing, a feint, a beneficial self-deception, a way to force oneself, this self, myself to some next level perhaps just to the first level since without discipline who could call themselves a runner or a writer. One may occasionally run or write, but that does not make one “a” runner or “a” writer. Being “a” doctor, “a” anything means that there are standards that there is professionalism. I wonder what it means to be “a” person. Not sure that I live to any rigorous set of standards. Certainly, there are some default standards like honesty, but does it include self-honesty, or activist honesty or is it only a passive and therefore partial honesty. What other principles of living are unprofessionally practiced, willy-nilly? Willy-nilly, that’s a title. I have default standards such as honesty, but is it an active honesty? I don’t lie to people but do I make sure they understand? How honest am I with myself about myself, about others?