Thirty, rest, and motion.

Adam Rifkin -4K ((no email))
Thu, 9 Dec 1999 20:06:44 -0800 (PST)

Understand that there are no happy endings in a circle because a circle
has no ends. There's no need to find a new beginning within a circle;
merely pinpoint an entry and take your place. Great minds tend to run
in great circles.

If you look closely at a circle, you see a tightly woven interconnection
of many points equally distant from a particular center. If you look
*too* closely at the individual points, you cannot see the circle at
all; if you focus too much on the relationship between the circle's
constituents and the center, you miss seeing the beauty of the whole.

That is to say, an unfortunate ramification of deconstruction is its
inability to appreciate a full picture because it is wasting time
examining its component brushstrokes. If you keep peeling an onion's
layers in search of what lies within, by the time you find nothing in
the center the onion's strength is enough to drive you to tears.

Consider if you will, a brain-to-brain transfer of energy. That energy
flows through the fingers of origin, as individual keystrokes that
together form strings of style and syntax and semantics, which
themselves comprise poetic posts of free form prose understood through
the phosphors they burn in the backs of the retinae of a hundred pairs
of eyeballs staring at screens loosely coordinated through time after
the origin's send button has been released. Out the 10Base-T, through
the router, down the T1, over the leased line, off the bridge, past the
firewall... nothing but 'Net...

The artefact of that energy transfer remains pickled in time, captured
within moments of its release, retrievable thanks to the mouse that
celebrates its 31st birthday on this very and a network that has
bestowed wealth and fame on many a proponent of it in the last decade
the universe has known up to and including this exact point in time.

The payment for such an energy transfer is time itself, the only truly
finite resource we the living have. The payoff for such an energy
transfer is a further weaving of the web -- thereby further extending
the interconnectedness of all things. This payoff manifests itself in
creativity resulting in the discovery of new collective syntheses, the
only truly challenging goal for which we the living can strive.

Said Steve Jobs, "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask
creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty
because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed
obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect
experiences they've had and synthesize new things."

Deep down in the land of nothing but 'Net, at the crossroads of The Tao
of Physics and Godel Escher Bach, mind is all that matters. The whole
purpose of poetry is its own sake -- not in looking for a message or
moral among the assemblage of symbols synthesized in a way never before
connected in quite that way. The whole purpose of living is accepting
that every possible permutation is necessary to lead to new synthetic
discoveries -- even suffering. To live is to accept that suffering
exists and to resolve to persist nonetheless, because six degrees of
separation in one dimension are really a single degree of separation in
another, and we all collectively experience everything felt by the
species, as is necessary for all manner of evolution. Deep down in the
land of nothing but 'Net, we foresake the corporeal, the material, the
plenipotentiary, the sexual, the financial, the egocentric, the
individual, the emotional... and the psychological state of fear. For
fear is the enemy of both the only finite resource (time) and the only
truly challenging goal (creativity).

Said Yoda, "Fear is the path to the Dark side. Fear leads to hate. Hate
leads to anger. Anger leads to suffering."

Since the most crippling enemy of the living is fear, overcoming that
fear is perhaps the biggest creative challenge an individual can face.
Know that your life will be filled with challenge. It is best to admit
this to yourself and decide to press on anyway. Do not be tricked into
believing there is a "way" to happiness; happiness IS the way.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Often the solution to a problem is contained completely within the
problem itself. The best way to get is to give. The best way to have a
friend is to be one. The best way to confront fear is by confronting fear.
The best way to sate needs is to focus on those needs. It's all a
matter of mind. Simply consume the ice cream before you consume the
koan; if you think enough about it then you need not think about it at
all. Because life is what happens regardless of what is happening. And
the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can hone it.

Said Alfred D. Souza, "For a long time it had seemed to be that life was
about to begin -- REAL life. But there was always some obstacle in the
way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business,
time still to be served, a debt to be paid. THEN life would begin. At
last it dawned on me that these obstacles WERE my life."

In Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, the journey from
need-directed goals (survival) to outer-directed goals (belonging, then
self-esteem) and finally to inner-directed goals (self-actualization)
requires expenditure of energy to overcome the fear to quantum leap from
one level of the pyramid to the next.

Only probably 3% of individuals have managed to claw their way to
Maslow's self-actualization stage of development. Having surmounted the
twin-bottlenecks of self-esteem and material success, these people have
the means by which to determine how to spend the remainder of their most
finite resource. By developing the skills of critical thinking in the
self-esteem stage and then introspection, they understand their own
needs, strengths, and weaknesses. As a result, they become capable of
setting their own direction for life and of managing their own path of
future development and learning for as long as time allows them. No
less a goal than the very evolution of the species is at stake, and
these are the frontline soldiers in that next wave, armed with
creativity as their only tool.

Said Ken Wilbur, "Despite the fact that, as individuals, most of us
clearly mature into adults over the course of a single life, humanity in
a broader sense has remained at a more childlike, immature stage of
psychology and spirituality. Look to the common denominator among the
world's religions for insight into our collective psychology: most
people in developed countries worship a parental God that
authoritatively sets rules of behavior and metes our rewards and

In Clifford Anderson's stages of life, development consists of five
stages. If development is blocked at some point along the way, or if
learning is disrupted (for example, by the need to go to work full time
or support a family), their basic capacities do not develop properly or
any further. The beauty of reincarnation is the ability to hit the
reset button and try again until we get it right. Here are Anderson's
five stages:
1. Prelinear (roughly ages 1-5; basic clerical skills)
2. Concrete (6-12; higher clerical, supervisory, and technical skills)
3. Abstract (13-18; professional and managerial skills)
4. Relativistic Thinking (19-25; visionary and leadership skills)
5. Nonlinear, Intuitive Thinking (26-33; creativity and synthesis skills)

It is precisely when you come to understand -- to REALLY understand and
to COMPLETELY internalize -- your own mortality within the context of a
15-billion-year-old universe and a sub-100-year lifespan, that you
understand what is most important. Time is the only finite resource,
creativity is the only truly challenging goal. As you become more
elderly, the crispness of the vision gets burned into your mind's eye.

Said Arthur C. Clarke, "Perhaps the adjective elderly requires
definition. In physics, mathematics, and astronautics it means over
thirty; in the other disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to
the forties. There are, of course, glorious exceptions; but as every
researcher just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good
for nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out of
the laboratory!"

Success consists of getting up one more time than you fall. Everything
has a message in it if you are willing to look, and seemingly
contradictory points at opposite parts of a circle's diameter are
actually complementary when you look at the circle as a whole. But
don't look too closely or you'll only see the individual brushstrokes
and not the whole picture, and you'll get confused as to whether this
assemblage of strings has any purpose to it at all. That it has a
purpose is not under question; the only question is whether you can make
the creative leap to connect things that were heretofore unconnected.
A life when viewed as a whole is more beautiful than each of its
individual points, but without the tightly interwoven set of points
there can be no complete circle. Time is the lubricant that enables
innovation, but creative leaps cannot be rushed and you cannot cross a
chasm with multiple jumps. Some actions really are atomic.

Said Steve Jobs, "To design something really well, you have to get it.
You have to really grok what it's all about. It takes a passionate
commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not
just quickly swallow it. Most people don't take the time to do that."

We waste time. We waste a lot of time. Nothing says that all time need
be allocated optimally. In fact, a lifetime is designed to accommodate
years of suboptimal time allocation chasing all manner of unimportant
things. Fame. Celebrity. Wealth. Power. Sex. Glory. Intellectual
property. Material property. These are not ends, and in many cases
they aren't even means. I've seen the best minds of my generation
destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked thanks to the
increasingly complex bevy of distractions available so they DON'T have
to consider what's truly important in life. Since you cannot justify
poetry, the notion of justifying individual sequences within that poetry
is likewise meaningless. Deconstruct a circle and there is no circle
there. But try. Do not fear errors, and do not fear fear. Have a
healthy skepticism... but not too much... as a reader certainly but more
particularly as a writer.

Said Carl Sagan, "Another writer again agreed with all my generalities,
but said that as an inveterate skeptic I have closed my mind to the
truth. Most notably I have ignored the evidence for an Earth that is
six thousand years old. Well, I haven't ignored it; I considered the
purported evidence and then rejected it. There is a difference, and
this is a difference, we might say, between prejudice and postjudice.
Prejudice is making a judgment before you have looked at the facts.
Postjudice is making a judgment afterwards. Prejudice is terrible, in
the sense that you commit injustices and you make serious mistakes.
Postjudice is not terrible. You can't be perfect of course; you may
make mistakes also. But it is permissible to make a judgment after you
have examined the evidence. In some circles it is even encouraged."

Sometimes poetry is badly in need of an editor who will sort out the
nonsequiturs and smooth out the self-references and organize -- no,
classify -- no, clarify the prose into something more readable than that
which pleases the author alone. It is the author/editor combination
that produces the innovation that can then be connected in the web and
enable further syntheses by others. This is the way that evolution
revolves, not with a whimper but a bang.

Life is a terminal illness. The terminally ill go through five stages
upon realization of their imminent mortality:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Anticipatory Grief
5. Acceptance / Resignation

Each day is like a microcosm of a life, with a journey from start to
finish. You sleep, you wake up, you waste time, you go to sleep and
start again the next day. Sometimes you get a little closer to
acceptance, and sometimes you get a little closer to that creative
pinnacle, but in any case you spend your available time for the chance
of that happening. You travel from the New Otani to the 360 to the
Spinning Bar atop the Westin Bonaventure just for the chance to see how
spectacular a clear winter night can be when the ideas flow free,
knowing in your heart and your mind and your spirit and your soul, that
with acceptance comes calm.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to
stay at rest, achieving the mass of a professional bowling score to the
tune of 220 or 250 or 274 or a perfect 300... and the angels in the
architecture never let you see where you're going next until you're
already there. Luckily, wherever you go, there you are. And it is
precisely at the moment that you can transcend the hundred fires you're
fighting and the hundred years of solitude from the cradle to the grave,
that the singular point of your existence around which the circle of
points in your life are equally distant comes into focus. You lose the
fear, you abandon the pursuit of the less important distractions, and
the energy in your mind becomes crisp enough to take a body of rest...
out of rest.

Once upon a time, Y2K mattered. Catching the wind of 22 days from Y2K,
one wonders how anyone could ever feared three zeroes. It's as if the
Rapture Index after years of predicting the end of the world as we know
it now sees the circle as more virtuous than vicious:

Even a rapture index of 168 is no longer cause for concern:

Some people find happiness in slavery. Some people enter relationships
making demands or binding peoples' hands by comparing them to former
others. But in my estimation, slavery is not freedom and ignorance is
not bliss. Better to have one's eyes open and face the fear head on,
than to hide one's head in the sand and pretend year after year that it
does not exist.

Said Billy Joel, "Some people stay far away from the door, if there's a
chance of it opening up. They hear a voice in the hall outside and hope
that it just passes by."

Hope is an awful thing, and a special person far too often tosses loaded
dice giving him 97% odds of three hours down the tubes versus 3%
odds of that time loss actually being worth it. In any given situation,
you should ask not, "What did I do to deserve this?" because deserve's
got nothing to do with it. Remember always that ideas are dangerous
things for most people and that the enemy of the great is not the
mediocre. The enemy of the great is the good enough.

Said Cliff Burton of Metallica, "You don't burn out from going too fast.
You burn out from going too slow and getting bored." I would have asked
him about thirty, rest, and motion, but he died long before Metallica
sold out stadiums.

Speaking of burnouts, the stock market is burned in the hearts and the
minds of nearly every technology person I know now, and I wonder how
history could have siphoned the past 15 billion years into a funnel that
made this so important to the fabric of our society. In any case, it is
no longer worthwhile to question phenomena. Rather, it is important to
accept what is happening and try to roll with the punches because it's
certainly going to affect whatever happens next.

Indicative of a trend that no one knows where it will end, Nasdaq had its
heaviest volume ever today -- 1.785 billion shares changed hands. The
Nasdaq Composite has logged 21 record closes in the last 26 trading
sessions. Sometimes a picture is worth many, many strings:

Amazon gained another 17% today to close at 103 after J.P. Morgan
initiated coverage on the stock with a "buy" rating and a 12-month price
target of $160. Their buy report was a castle built in the air with no
fundamental basis to it whatsoever and ironically comes almost exactly
one year after Henry Blodgett's famously ludicrous price target of 400
last December -- which sounds great until you remember a 3:1 split in
January and a 2:1 split in September, meaning that Blodgett's ridiculous
target is 66, making JP Morgan's target two and a half times that even
though they now think Amazon will not be profitable until at least 2002.

My soulmate through all this madness, CMGI, hit another record high
today, closing with a market cap of $19 billion, which seems insane
until you compare it with the market caps of other Internet stocks at
close today:

America Online - $193 billion (bigger than the GDP of India)
Yahoo! - $88 billion (that's a PE of 1360)
Softbank - $79 billion (bigger than Berkshire Hathaway)
Amazon - $35 billion (that's with no profitability expected till 2002)
Internet Capital Group - $30 billion (on $1.7 billion in paper assets)
Akamai - $23 billion (on revenues of $1.2 million)
eBay - $21 billion (that's a PE of 8030)
Red Hat - $20 billion (up 1921% from its IPO offering price in July 1999)
CMGi - $19 billion (best performing stock in the market since 1994)
Apple - $17 billion (remember when this stock was in the teens in 1997?)
CommerceOne - $10 billion (range since July: 26 to 430)
Network Solutions - $8 billion (also the market cap of Priceline)

But these are mere trifles -- the race to the $1 trillion market cap is
on and it looks like Cisco and Microsoft are the two main contenders:

Microsoft - $479 billion (re-takes the lead from GE with a PE of "only" 61)
General Electric - $471 billion (all time high)
Cisco - $325 billion (that's a PE of 164)
Intel - $245 billion (with a PE of "only" 35)
Nokia - $208 billion (that's a PE of 148)
Qualcomm - $65 billion (but up 1300% this year)

The most interesting recent obsessions are wireless and Linux. PUMA is
up 3200% this year on Bluetooth's promise, and MCOM is up 2500% this
year on Ricochet's promise. Sheesh. Then again, LEAF is up 2000% this
year because they turned themselves into an XML company and KIDE is up
1500% this year thanks to Pokemon. And Linux? Ugh. Perle Systems is
worth 6 times what it began this week being worth. Corel and Red Hat
have both been 20-baggers this summer, and VA Linux priced today at 30
-- that's triple the original offer price -- but OPENED 1000% higher at
320 before settling down to 250. This is what happens when no one wants
to sell; demand sends the price through the roof. VA Linux a $10
billion company? Sure, why not. While I'm at it let me pick up some
Sun and Oracle shares since their PE's are "only" 100...

It's hard to look at the stock market and be inspired anymore. Once
reality has been left behind and all that's left is momentum -- well,
bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, but that doesn't mean I have to
have any profound love for it. Still, if I'm horrified with a minimal
economics backround I can only wonder how stocks like Tyco, Waste
Management, and Lands End can get crushed while Infosys (INFY) rockets
its way to an $18 billion market cap -- roughly one-tenth the size of
the GDP of its homeland India. In this day and age, money and jobs are
a dime a dozen but inspiration is hard to come by.

Said Renee Zellweger to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, "I care about the
job, but mostly I want to be inspired."

If clue/bit information and visionary inspiration are requisite for
creativity, then the glue that holds FoRK's universe really do serve as
a muse -- and dancing the "Mock-a-rena" is maximally a-musing. At least
that's what I tell myself at the end of each daily cycle when it is time
to roll up the crumpled skin of the day, with its arguments and its
impressions and its anger and its laughter, and cast it into the hedge.

Wow, it was kinda neat to see a post of feckless meandering rather than
an attempt to merely anagrammatize THIRTY YEARS as is custom on FoRK.
[Memo to Rohit: will send you the other thing in private as soon as I
have it.]

The pendulum has gone full circle... speaking of which...

Great minds tend to run in great circles. There's no need to find a new
beginning within a circle; merely pinpoint an entry and take your place.
Understand that there are no happy endings in a circle because a circle
has no ends.


People who mind their own business die of boredom by thirty.