What is Adaptation? (Ereignis)

The companions said to Josh: “You said we should seek adaptation. But adaptation to what?”

He smiled. “Adaptation to: what? Precisely!”

Come and see.

There were seven serpents and the young woman of alluring eyes placed down on the ground a bowl of milk so its edges were level with the ground, and the seven serpents slid into the bowl of milk and became drunk on milk, and they discharged their venom, and the venom caused the milk to curdle, and what was left when the milk curdled was the pure.

The young woman of alluring eyes was named What?

The milk, purified by the venom of the seven serpents, is Adaptation.

When we drink adaptation we become adapted to it.

To sharing and to being shared.

To regarding others as elders and to having others who regard us as elders.

To drumming the foot when we hear a call to dance, and to standing with both feet on the ground and calling for the drum master to silence the drum.

To laughter and to weeping.

To morning and to night.

To the new word in the echo and the echo in the new word.

To freedom from shame and the shame of freedom.

Hearing these words the companions rejoiced. Half of them resolved to spend the rainy season with Josh and half decided they had heard all they would ever need to hear, and went on their way, lived their lives, and never stepped foot again in the hall of the great assembly.


Rooch and Ba Try a Stranger King: A Tale of Old Flatbush

Rooch and Ba lived in an apartment on the third floor of Church Avenue with their father who was very old and very sick, but more importantly, very boring.

Has anybody told you that living with a boring person is no big deal? If they told you that they said wrong. Their idea is not having enough to eat or being in a house that’s cold, that’s a big deal, but being bored, that’s on you. Just be interested! But they say that because they didn’t know what it is like to live like Rooch and Ba did with a father who was boring. Because when you live with a father who is boring he makes your life boring and that means you don’t even care if you have enough to eat or your house is cold because you don’t find your life interesting enough to hold on to. Sure you do hold on to it, because you have a body, but your heart flies far, far away, or maybe it falls so fast asleep you don’t even remember what it is to have a heart, you’re so bored.

That’s how it felt for Rooch and Ba in the apartment on Church Avenue!

Rooch and Ba would sometimes go to Bohack’s to get things for themselves and for their Dad: lightbulbs, athletic support for his phlebitis, shaving cream, bananas, eggs, Arnold’s bread. They were afraid to talk to anybody because they didn’t want to bore other people, and they were sure they would because they bored themselves. But the check-out girl, whose name was Anapatapika Mahendi Bowdis (and although it is a long name you don’t have to learn it or worry about it as she figures no further in this tale) told them if they find their father boring they can get a strange father.

How do you do that? asked Ba, wondering. And Anapatapika (ok, so I lied, she is in this a bit more than I said) told them there were circulars in the area of the store between the door to the outside and the door to the inside, an inbetween place full of the smell of the radiator and the melted snow from outside, a place of colds and flurries, and damp circulars advertising guitar lessons and lost dogs and strange fathers.

And they picked one and called the number, and left a message. “This is Jeff. I’m not here right now. But let me know who you are and what it is you want.”

“Strange father.” whispered Rooch.

In the middle of the night Jeff came. He was dressed strangely — boots up to his calf and one of his eyes was fake and his hair was fake, he was very tall and very fat, and he had long hairs growing from his ears and nostrils and big crazy hairs jutting out from his red eyebrows. “Ho ho where is the old king?” “We don’t have a king, we have a father.” “Oh ho we call it king now. I am the new strange king.” And he made old Dad take off all his clothes and kicked him in his rear end and he fell down the stairs and started crying and Jeff took the stairs two at a time and kicked him more and he ran down the street.

Things were interesting with Jeff! He threw away the clock and brought in a Jeff Clock — it didn’t have numbers it had shapes and in one place it had another little clock, and the food was mushrooms that grew from books that he wrote in his own language, and there was a lot of standing on the podiums taking the Postures of Gratitude and the Postures of Forgiveness and Screaming the Seven Incomprehensible Screams, and then having to say up for hours and hours — I’d say thirty six or forty eight but that would be Old Clock thinking — and for Old Clock Thinking you have to eat a live chick! — to comprehend those screams and make up the words that those screams would mean something in although they didn’t.

The Stranger King was a Bad Strange King

And a Bad Strange King Was He

And Rooch said to Ka and Ka Said to Rooch

He’ll be the death me, lord, lord

That king’ll be the death of me!

But what are you going to do with a Strange King? I don’t know if you’ve ever had a strange king but they make things feel strange that you don’t even know could be strange. Your hand is strange. Your eye is strange. The things you feel are strange. The words you remember are strange. Your own mind is strange.

Whatever happened to Old Pa they asked Anapatapika once when they were performing a tiny ballet of a far off land — (and don’t worry yourself about what it really was — you can’t imagine it — it’s too strange! Suffice to say it wasn’t quite a dance, but it was a special way of moving the body, the hands, the feet, the eyes, and the Strange King would sit on his chair, which was old Pa’s bed, the hospital bed from the medical supply store with the railing — smoking, watching, criticizing, dreaming of other worlds, other kingdoms) and she said — he’s my father too. He’s everybody’s father. He has to be our father because the old fathers, well, they’re dead, and he humiliated the bodies before he buried them and took Polaroid pictures, and if you look at the Polaroid pictures you will think — that man, that can’t be my Daddy, nobody who would let that happen to him could be my Daddy, so I guess Jeff is my Daddy. It ain’t no thing. It’s no other way.

“Don’t look at the Polaroid.” said Rooch. “Don’t look at the Polaroid. Just wait our time.”

And they waited their time, though how long it was — years? weeks? minutes? — I couldn’t tell you because of the Strange Clock thing — that didn’t have numbers, it had a mouse, it had a zither, it had a heart — but it came time that Jeff was drunk and he said “my girls will do anything for me! They will do anything! They will lock me up with my favorite girl, Ba, in the boiler room.”

“Ba-da-boom ba-da-boom

Put me in the boiler room!”

Jeff said.

And they said ok. They locked him in. But just as the door was closing and Jeff was in that boiler room — Ba slipped out. And then Jeff said “And they’ll let me out.”

“Ba-da-boom ba da boom

Let me from this boiler room!”

But they pretended they didn’t hear.

And Jeff said

“Ba da boom ba da boom

I’ll kill you if you don’t let me from this boiler room!”

But they pretended they didn’t hear.

And after a few days he was just scratching at the door and whining

And they hear him say

“Let me out let me out

I’ll be nice to everyone here on in

I promise you I will.”

But they don’t open the door.

And then more time and no more scratching and no more whining.

And Jeff the Strange King he was no more.

“Oh but I’m glad.” said Rooch to Ka.

“I almost forgot what it was to feel normal.” said Ka to Rooch.

“I almost forgot there was such a thing as normal!” said Rooch.

And they hugged each other.

It was in the paper when they took those girls out of the apartment on Church Avenue, social services did, with no strange king, no boring Dad any more, just three girls, Rooch, Ka, and Anapatapika (look she made it this far in the story after all!) blinking in their potato sacks, arms and legs like toothpicks, bad teeth, huge eyes, clear they didn’t need a king or a Dad or anyway to teach them to be strange because…

We’re strange enough!


The Principle of Non-Contradiction

I have had an interesting conversation with Aristotle on twitter about the principle of non-contradiction, and I would continue it except I am locked from twitter. Actually I deliberately locked myself out of twitter by changing my password and forgetting it, because I suspected it of being an akratic activity on my part to go on twitter. It sucked up my focus and did so because it was deliberately designed to do so — nicotine for the brain. As it happened I figured out a work around for my no password policy — twitter let me go on line with my email address — but just now twitter figured out this workaround and detected unusual activity — it asked me to remember or reset my password. Which I didn’t want to do — seemed annoying — so my original attempt to block myself worked, as I was unable to come up for a work around to my work around.

I can however still talk to Aristotle as this wordpress account automatically posts to twitter. And to the handful of people who follow this wordpress account.

To catch you up, I was reading Pippin on Hegel who invoked the idea that if we can’t understand it it doesn’t exist. That the ability to understand shows us what exists. And this strikes me as wrong — there could be things that nobody can ever understand. After all, why not? Ten thousand years ago there were things nobody could understand — we know about some of them now. Maybe there are things that are like that, but we will never understand them. There are conative goals no one will ever reach perhaps — or at least the idea that “what we can get shows us what good things there are” seems false. Why should it be different with our cognitive goals.

Pippin invoked Aristotle to support this claim, and I know Aristotle is on twitter and have spoken to him before. He invoked the Principle of Non Contradiction. For some reason the “Principle of Cognizability” is justified by the “Principle of Non Contradiction”. Possibly because Aristotle believes to know something requires not accepting contradictions? Not sure! I never found out the connection between the POC and the PNC because Aristotle wanted me to accept the PNC and I don’t. It seems to me perfectly possible that there are things that are a and not a.

This ended up in a discussion about what the force of “the same respect” is in the PNC which says nothing can be a and not a (or maybe p and not p — not sure!) “at the same time and in the same respect”.

I cannot figure out what this means. And if it is vague then the PNC seems neither true nor false, because empty.

One formulation Aristotle offered was that nothing can be p and not p without qualification.

But this seems to be a consequence of a principle that I think is true — the POQ or Principle of Qualification. Nothing can be p without qualification.

IOW if you say “a is a circle” or “b is good” it is always with some qualification. How? In what context? In what respect? are always questions somebody could ask.

So if we substitute “p and not p” for p it is true that nothing can be “p and not p” without qualification.

But that does not give us a PNC. Because the POQ also applies to contradictions.


The Gilgamesh Spiel

There was a Jewish community where on Purim instead of reading the book of esther they read the book of gilgamesh.

This isn’t exactly true, but something like it is true. You respect your father. And I respect my father. But they were very different men, your father, and my father. They were very different fathers and perforce they taught us something very different by respect.

And I think that how to teach people to respect themselves is a very difficult thing. People find it so easy to respect other people and ask other people for permission to think a thought, to go to the bathroom, to live to die, but if you ask them if they respect themselves they will get into a tizzy. Because what would it mean to ask yourself permission and be afraid you won’t get it?

It doesn’t make any sense but it happens all the time.

When people become so disrespectful of themselves that they are afraid to do anything they call the people who tell them that it is okay to live their lives, that they should respect themselves saints. They call them priests, they call them gods, they call them wizards. And they respect them like crazy. But they still don’t respect themselves.

Because respect is a mixture of love, hatred, and fear. And there is a real personality test, known to wizards — of course it is not really a test, not the way wizards use the word “test”, and wizards do not believe in personalities — at most they believe in the four humors and the horoscope and nowadays they believe in both of these less and less — as if the alphabet needs more letters, or we forgot how to pronounce the old letters so the poems that used to rhyme no longer rhyme — but there is a real “personality” “test” — and a person you know is just a mask and a test is like when you smash a cup hard to see if it will break — you can do the same thing with a mask — in fact if you don’t do it, what are you doing? do you even know it is a mask? — anyway (not literally *any* way, you know, but many ways) the real personality test is to see where the self-respect is missing.

Do you fail to love yourself? Then you need a new mother.

Do you fail to hate yourself? Then you need a new father.

Do you fail to fear yourself? Then you need a new monster.

Fahter, mother, monster hold hands and dance in a ring and each of the people in the community takes turns standing in the middle.

And that’s the Gilgamesh Spiel!


Yes I Am The Floating Goat

one: from birth to maturity

Mother and father Have I None — but this researcher is a mother’s son!

Yes I am the floating goat, and some may say it’s not me, or that I am not, because no one is, but they’re wrong. There is the floating goat and I’m he. Why? Why do the other goats sink or stick to the ground, even if it is the high ground of the mountain while I float free? Answer: it was a project of my parent company, while financed by the venture capitalist firms down far below, to breed a quadruped lighter and lighter and lighter, and goat was chosen because maybe it just already is associated with the heights, and a few brave entrepeneurs and then their team of researchers started with a light stock and bred and bred, and then introduced the structure of the gas bladder from sea-weeds and then the helium transfer chain was discovered and BAA BAA ! BEH-HOLD! I am! The floating goat!

I was educated in the classics and also certain basic sociological facts about my society.

They were a bitter fractious lot the bio-engineers and had little to teach me.

I had no friends.

But then I met Romulus a hermit crab who hitched a ride in my beard and we took off on many journeys. And as we looked down upon the world we came to think that they didn’t just look like ants — they were as worthless as emmets as well. What fools they seemed our fellow mortals, stuck to the world like pigs to mud. While we floated free, Romulus and me.

And wouldn’t you know it, they shot arrows at me and tried to bring us down! We laughed. Our tears — my tears for crabs don’t cry — caught the sun’s tears of light like prisms — and iridesced rainbows into the may morn.

But he betrayed me — he was also going down to the ocean with a whale. That was his true love. Not me.

My heart was down on the earth below in pain even though my body floated towards the sun.

two: age and introspection

Now floating free was my enemy and I tethered myself with ropes to the research facility. There were two young women named Clementina and Aladrine whose job it was in shifts, sometimes together to drag these ropes to my various appointments — i was a rich goat — pull me down for my feedings, and duck the droppings of my waste, and sweep them up.

I wonder what happened to them. I wish them well. I gave them letters of recommendation that were fulsome without untruth.

I invested wisely in livestock that lived on earth and in the sea.

I had speaking engagements. I learned to drive a car. When the mighty winds blew I was kept in a shed so I wouldn’t blow away.

But then heavy water came, you know about it, and almost nobody could have a child anymore, and tiny flies that got into the brain and made people afraid, and other things you know about, things that I don’t want to embarrass my twenty-six friends, the alphabet, by making them say, suffice to say, that many people got the Anti striving Procedure they wouldn’t care, because striving hurt the heart so bad.

I had given so many speeches about how floating away is wrong. And I should know. I am the Floating Goat.

But I came to the institute one day and a strange man answered and said it wasn’t my home no more. And they tried to grab my rope and pull me in.

They wanted a barbecue I think? Or to cut my bladders open to harvest helium for their spy balloons?

Don’t know — I put my committments and my sides behind — I had been anti-float, but now I cut my tethers. I let the zephyr catch me up up and away and beyond the beyond.

three: my todays and tomorrows

Above the beyond floats the floating goat. Beyond the beyond.

Where has today taken me? To lick the salt from the cliffs of Dover. To sip the snow from Everest’s top.

Where will tomorrow take me? I don’t know. But I know I will float free and smile down on you all like my friend Sun.


My Teachers, My Heroes

Who I still carry with me and who keep me out of bad trouble — from grabbing a fake-safety which is (among the) most dangerous things are:

Wendy Doniger

Robert Nozick

Stanley Cavell

Sidney Morgenbesser

Hubert Dreyfus

Bernard Williams

Donald Davidson.

All but one are gone.

They are interconnected — some are students of the same teacher, some were friends, some frenemies. Now, in my mind, they all get along. They were from roughly the same generation — post World War II American academia.

Of course I would not have known to trust them or have been able to learn anything from them had it not been for my parents:

Charlotte Buchsbaum Kaplan.

Benjamin Kaplan.


The Wizard Brazza

I do not know the open air is trending, so ignore

Instead erasing errors from grimoires 

Each error I erase inscribes a Name which raw

Peeps at me through my pentacles. In arrears

For every word I speak and do not mean or utter

Never.  I keep account books open. It appears

And vanishes, it comes, it goes, but these doleurs

Accompanied by said torpors and longeurs 

Prepares abstemiousness for manes or lemures, 

While every “where” and every “which” prepares.

Friends, pals, compadres, the R ‘s unsaid in “unaware”

Just like the C in “cockadoodledoo”.

Unsaid by roosters. And by me. And you.


from Ruth and to her pals

canasta was the father and the mother was a fever

though the lamb licks the salt the salt stays o

we never got to know her when we had the chance to please her

the salt stays but the lamb goes oh, oh


now the colonel’s men are marching from the jetty on the river

And I think they’ll get as far as Kanchanaburi o

when they get here they will burn it and we’ll flee into the forest

And maybe go to Nakon Rachassima, oh!


by the water is a cobra and in his mouth’s the venom

if he bites us we will die and we know it, o

but the payman when he hires you will protect you from the starving

but you won’t know if you live or die oh oh


Come on friends come with me to the paddy by the mountain

Where it takes eight days of marching to get there oh

It is worth it little mommies you can learn to shoot the rifle

Cause there’s no life left for us here oh oh.


Master, Cut Out the Stone Quickly, My Name is Lubbert Das

Ben had an uncle who was only two years older than he was

why? because their grandmother had remarried late in life

To Maier Dax.

Dax means badger. In the Bosch painting of a quack

The fool letting his head get cut while they rob him blind’s named

Castrated Badger.

We can definitely perceive these connections — the badger in the painting

the man who was the reason my father was only two years younger than his uncle Bobby

Badger Light.

Not only can we definitely perceive these connections we can’t not perceive them

We can’t live in a world that is only space there must be things the

space is between.

The list of those things includes badgers. It includes

The word badger. It includes connections, lists, uncles

It includes absence.

The absence between old fights and present anger

Between our father’s death and the night we were born

It’s a water strider.

Unlock this weary heart and let the tears

Flow upwards into my eyes, downwards

to my mind

The mind ties and unties

Analyze. Synthesize. The cricket’s leg

Also an ear.

Those peope made beautiful things but most of their babies died

Before one. So we judge them for not mourning enough.

Crude. Hard-hearted.