Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Melis: Harbin, Culture, Virtuality and Foucault

I'm interested in Harbin Hot Springs ethnographically for a wide variety of reasons.

Metaphorically, how does Harbin Hot Springs produce the "honey" {which may include the relaxation response and qualities of free sociality and creativity there} that it does, - in other words, how does this milieu {assemblage, apparatus?} give rise to the Harbin experience, which is varied and individual - a certain kind of neurophysiology - as part of a concept of mind, or subjectivity?

There are 'interesting minds' there that 'process code' remarkably and multi-facetedly, in countercultural, hippie and New Age ways, as well. How does this work?

Also, how do the serendipity and synchronicity I see and experience at Harbin work? I don't know the academic literature on the anthropology or philosophy of serendipity and synchronicity - aspects of humanness - nor of the 'present?' Thoughts? In what way might Michel Foucault address some of these questions? Also, how would Foucault approach questions of the experience of the 'present' - the now - in terms of history? Perhaps it's the opposite of stultitia and is, instead, an example of what remarkable practices, and 'decisive moments' of 'care of the self' give rise to. How might I examine all of this in Foucauldian terms? In general, these are all questions about how unique 'cultural phenomena,' subjectively experienced, work. Culture can be both very ephemeral, yet very real, through communication and language.

I'm also interested in documenting Harbin - it's a remarkable, unique, social constellation {an instantiation of 'care of the self'?}, both as ethnography and as virtual world, and both in the present, and since 1972, through observation, talking and writing. In doing so, I'd like to explore how one might generalize to ways of being, thinking processes as well as experiences {flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences, in the aggregate}, and then generate these in new form, ~ virtually.

In the context of a virtual world, which we might all edit and develop, people, in their creativity, might create new {Harbin-related} experiences (Harbin is experimental, and, as an assemblage, instantiates creative possibility; it's 'real,' and remarkable, when I think about it}. So, in documenting {archiving} it - what a folklorist might do - I'd like to understand it, to open the possibility to instantiate it in new ways, through a kind of generalization process, expressed virtually, that one might experience (might affect subjectivity, in Foucauldian terms).

These are current questions I'm interested in.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ladybug: Elicit The Relaxation Response

"The ideal is to develop a routine, a time to bring forth the relaxation response that becomes as much a part of the day as brushing your teeth."


Elicitation of the relaxation response is actually quite easy. There are two essential steps:

1. Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity.
2. Passive disregard of everyday thoughts that inevitably come to mind and the return to your repetition.

The following is the generic technique taught at the Benson-Henry Institute:

1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system, such as "one," "peace," "The Lord is my shepherd," "Hail Mary full of grace," or "shalom."
2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, head, and neck.
5. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase, or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale.
6. Assume a passive attitude. Don't worry about how well you're doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, "Oh well," and gently return to your repetition.
7. Continue for ten to 20 minutes.
8. Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.
9. Practice the technique once or twice daily. Good times to do so are before breakfast and before dinner.

Regular elicitation of the relaxation response has been scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders. In fact, to the extent that any disease is caused or made worse by stress, the relaxation response can help.

Other techniques for evoking the relaxation response are:

Progressive muscle relaxation
Repetitive prayer
Mindfulness meditation
Repetitive physical exercises
Breath focus


~ Heading in to elicit the Relaxation Response now . . . :)


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hive: Harbin, Honey, Warm Water and Culture

Harbin is a honeycomb beehive.

If archiving Harbin is partly about understanding how communication works in an arc hive of counterculture, how will I engage this in a virtual world?

A virtual world made with Open Sim Virtual World software (which can be developed independently of having a connection to the Internet; Harbin doesn't have wi-fi for guests) / Second Life - is a kind of archive.

Harbin is an arc(h)-hive ~ making honey. Such metaphors and characterization of communication and language open ways to understand Harbin as an unique social constellation~assemblage.

How is Harbin an archive for a kind of 'living wisdom' of the 1960s and 1970s, that is "Living the Future" {a 1996 pamphlet that Harbin residents wrote and published}? The present and potential for intimacy are central to this experience. Some Harbin residents have thought of Harbin as an ark, too. Harbin has been experimental in a wide variety of ways.

I think part of the honey that's produced has to do with the relaxation response in the pools - a kind of oneness - and in the pool area, as well as the nudity that many people find beneficial. As I see it, this and Harbin emerge from the 1960s and 1970s. And when a kind of Harbin 'Omega-brain' {vis-a-vis the harmonizing effects of omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. 1000 mg flax seed oil, 3-4 times a day ~ a term I coined just now} - the Harbin experience {as I understand it} is generated - life is sweet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Arc: Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response

Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes.

Deeply relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Keep them relaxed.

Breathe through your nose.
Become aware of your breathing.
As you breathe out, say the word, "one"*,
silently to yourself. For example,
breathe in ... out, "one",- in .. out, "one", etc.
Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Do not stand up for a few minutes.

Do not worry about whether you are successful
in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
When distracting thoughts occur,
try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them
and return to repeating "one."
With practice, the response should come with little effort.
Practice the technique once or twice daily,
but not within two hours after any meal,
since the digestive processes seem to interfere with
the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.

* or any soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning.
or association, to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts.

Herbert Benson, M.D. Harvard Medical School

This stopped being accessible here - http://relaxationresponse.org/steps/ - in mid Summer 2008, but is available here:

and also on the Massachusetts General Hospital's web site here:



Oak: Brilliant Orange Light

Oak: Brilliant Orange Light

Daybreak sleeping by the road
Brilliant orange light releases up
Beautiful California oak

(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2008/09/oak-brilliant-orange-light-releases-oak.html - September 27, 2008)

Friday, September 26, 2008

natural, beautiful warm pools, omega-3s, the relaxation response, music & dancing

natural, beautiful warm pools, omega-3s, the relaxation response, music & dancing :)

into the pools . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Harmony: Choral Music, Care of the Self and Harbin

The tenors this late afternoon stood in front of the rest of the chorus singing Brahms' "Gypsy Songs" {Zigeunerlieder}. Tears welled up in me as I heard, for the first time, different sections sing together so exquisitely and finely. As a tenor for the first time {I have sung base-baritone in the past}, I have stood only in the back, and been moved by different sections singing together, but not like standing in front. What voices and singing can do!

I'd like to bring these singing processes together with eliciting loving bliss to create a new form. As I envision this new form, it's a kind of chamber music, choral music, contact improvisation & {HAI} exploration, but I haven't yet seen how this might actual work.


Here's my reply to Colin:


Thanks for your insightful comments on this blog for the September 3, 2008 entry: "Thistle: Foucault's Care of the Self and Harbin Hot Springs." I think that askesis (as training, a development on Foucault's reading of it, already a salutary interpretation) and pedagogy {defined by a fairly well defined set of goals vis-a-vis enjoyment at Harbin} vis-a-vis Foucault is a potentially fruitful way to instantiate it. What language or thinking might best engage Foucault vis-a-vis this? From which of Foucault's texts did aymon's "What is practice?" and "What is a decisive moment" (17 September 2008 labinar with Paul) come from, or were extrapolated from?

Concerning the virtual, here's a brief response of one key, philosophical articulation with Foucault vis-a-vis Deleuze that I'd like to think through:

Vis-a-vis your reading of Foucault and my actual-virtual ethnographic Harbin project, is Socrates responding to an ethos / context in Athens where Socrates' "care of the self" orientations emerge in response to a specific tradition / context / ethos / assemblage (how would an ethnography of Socrates' world read?)? The actual Harbin may be a result of Ishvara's and, somehow, "Harbin vis-a-vis the 60 and 70s," thinking since 1972 as well as every other hippie that's come through Harbin's gate, somehow in the aggregate. How might Foucault "parse" this, (or I parse this vis-a-vis Foucault) as he was writing in the context of the intellectual liberations of the 60s and 70s, as well? How might I rigorously and interestingly tease out a Harbin ethos vis-a-vis the 60s and 70s, represented as actual and virtual Harbin, in relation to Foucault? I haven't thought of Harbin as a mid-wife heretofore.

Harbin's sociality is unique, emerging from the 60s and 70s, in a beautiful, remote valley, where personal freedom is a key part of the ethos, to a significant degree.

I do want to make the relaxation response in a bath tub at home, or anywhere, while visiting virtual Harbin actual (and even Mozartian, somehow), but it will only complement the touch, sociality and proximity aspects of actual Harbin. And travel itself, for me, elicits a kind of bliss, too, different from walking to one's (hypothetically) beautiful bath-room in one's home. And since Ishvara - the founder, who is still around - bought the Harbin property in 1972, Harbin's history has shaped its remarkable milieu, and as a geographically delimited field-site, its history is unique to Harbin as place - one can feel and know it as culture (in a historical sense) pretty directly, if one thinks about it, especially while on property. I think Harbin offers an unique assemblage of 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences (Csikszentmihalyi), in the aggregate, which I'd like to instantiate virtually, in terms of 'care of the self,' and perhaps vis-a-vis Deleuze.

I was impressed with Chris's writing, when I read "Two Bits'" introduction, and also that readers might edit the text in a variety of ways. To make virtual Harbin editable or not, is another question, vis-a-vis creating virtual Harbin as ethnography, and as a comparable and comparative field site. How to create, complement and add to the beauty that is already at Harbin as place and ethos, which I can see, metaphorically, as a kind of improvisational opera, occurring 'in' Harbin visitors and residents.

So, I'm wondering, vis-a-vis Foucault and Paul, how I might engage the many practices of Harbin - going to the pools {and related 'relaxation response'}, relaxing on the sun deck - with friends or alone, the potential for intimacy, the nakedness, the Watsu {water shiatsu} and waterdance, the unconditional dances, the coming into the moment - the 'present' - and letting things go, the 150-180 residents as key parts of this assemblage with their own unique 'wisdom' and as friends, the films in the theater, the milieu of nature and clean air, the food in the restaurant and market, the musical events, the hippie ('New Age') thinking in liberating and positive senses, the hippie, bohemian ethos, the cleanliness vis-a-vis the pools, the simplicity, the possibility to camp and live outside - as aspects of a specific Harbin assemblage of 'care of the self,' that I might read as askesis and pedagogy, {and/or 'practice' and 'decisive moments' a la aymon}.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bioluminescence: Deleuze and Virtuality

Here are some Deleuzian perspectives on virtuality that I'll articulate with my creation of a virtual Harbin in Open Sim / Second Life as anthropological field site, and as ethnography, ~ partly to explore eliciting bliss as a form of 'care of the self' {Foucault}:

From the entry on "Gilles Deleuze" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"In his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, he tries to develop a metaphysics adequate to contemporary mathematics and science—a metaphysics in which the concept of multiplicity replaces that of substance, event replaces essence and virtuality replaces possibility."

"In Bergsonism (1966), Deleuze develops the ideas of virtuality and multiplicity that will serve as the backbone of his later work. From Maimon's reading of Kant, we know that Deleuze needs to substitute the notion of the condition of the genesis of the real for the notion of conditions of possibility of representational knowledge. The positive name for that genetic condition is the virtual, which Deleuze adopts from the following Bergsonian argument. The notion of the possible, Bergson holds in Creative Evolution, is derived from a false problem that confuses the “more” with the “less” and ignores differences in kind; there is not less but more in the idea of the possible than in the real, just as there is more in the idea of nonbeing than in that of being, or more in the idea of disorder than in that of order. When we think of the possible as somehow “pre-existing” the real, we think of the real, then we add to it the negation of its existence, and then we project the “image” of the possible into the past. We then reverse the procedure and think of the real as something more than possible, that is, as the possible with existence added to it. We then say that the possible has been “realized” in the real. By contrast, Deleuze will reject the notion of the possible in favor of that of the virtual. Rather than awaiting realization, the virtual is fully real; what happens in genesis is that the virtual is actualized.

The fundamental characteristic of the virtual, that which means it must be actualized rather than realized, is its differential makeup. Deleuze always held the critical axiom that the ground cannot resemble that which it grounds; he constantly critiques the “tracing” operation by which identities in real experience are said to be conditioned by identities in the transcendental. For instance, Deleuze criticizes Kant for copying the transcendental field in the image of the empirical field. That is, empirical experience is personal, identitarian and centripetal; there is a central focus, the subject, in which all our experiences are tagged as belonging to us. Kant says this empirical identity is only possible if we can posit the Transcendental Unity of Apperception, that is, the possibility of adding “I think” to all our judgments. Instead of this smuggled-in or “traced” identity, Deleuze will want to have the transcendental field be differential. Deleuze still wants to work back from experience, but since the condition cannot resemble the conditioned, and since the empirical is personal and individuated, the transcendental must be impersonal and pre-individual. The virtual is the condition for real experience, but it has no identity; identities of the subject and the object are products of processes that resolve, integrate, or actualize (the three terms are synonymous for Deleuze) a differential field. The Deleuzean virtual is thus not the condition of possibility of any rational experience, but the condition of genesis of real experience.

As we have seen, the virtual, as genetic ground of the actual, cannot resemble that which it grounds; thus, if we are confronted with actual identities in experience, then the virtual ground of those identities must be purely differential. Deleuze adopts “multiplicity” from Bergson as the name for such a purely differential field. In this usage, Deleuze later clarifies, “multiplicity” designates the multiple as a substantive, rather than as a predicate. The multiple as predicate generates a set of philosophical problems under the rubric of “the one and the many” (a thing is one or multiple, one and multiple, and so on). With multiplicity, or the multiple as substantive, the question of the relation between the predicates one/multiple is replaced by the question of distinguishing types of multiplicities (as with Bergson's distinction of qualitative and quantitative multiplicities in Time and Free Will). A typological difference between substantive multiplicities, in short, is substituted for the dialectical opposition of the one and the multiple."

"Deleuze pushes Leibniz's thought to a point where Leibniz could never have taken it, given his theological presuppositions. This is the point where one begins to consider the virtual domain on its own account, freed from its actualization in a world and its individuals. On this score, Deleuze often likes to cite Jorge Luis Borges's famous story, “The Garden of the Forking Paths,” in which such a virtual world is described in the labyrinthine book of a Chinese philosopher named Ts'ui Pên: “In all fiction, when a man is faced with alternatives, he chooses one at the expense of others. In the almost unfathomable Ts'ui Pên, he chooses—simultaneously—all of them… In Ts'ui Pên's work, all the possible solutions occur, each one being the point of departure for other bifurcations.” Leibniz had in fact given a similar presentation of the world at the conclusion of the Theodicy. In Deleuze's transformation of the Leibnizian / Borgesian image, the three Kantian transcendent Ideas of God, World, and Self all take on a completely different demeanor. First, God is no longer a Being who compares and chooses the richest compossible world; he has now become a pure Process that affirms incompossibilities and passes through them. (As the notion of “process” here attests, Deleuze's relation to Whitehead is one of the most important contemporary issues for students of his thought; although the points of comparison are many, Deleuze himself rarely discussed Whitehead, save for several important pages in The Fold.) Second, the world is no longer a continuous world defined by its pre-established harmony; instead, divergences, bifurcations, and incompossibles must now be seen to belong to one and the same universe, a chaotic universe in which divergent series trace endlessly bifurcating paths, and give rise to violent discords and dissonances that are never resolved into a harmonic tonality: a “chaosmos,” as Deleuze puts it (borrowing a word from Joyce) and no longer a world. In contrast, Leibniz could only save the “harmony” of this world by relegating discordances and disharmonies to other possible worlds—this was his theological sleight of hand. Third, selves or individuals, rather than being closed upon the compossible and convergent world they express from within, are now torn open, and kept open through the divergent series and incompossible ensembles that continually pull them outside themselves. The “monadic” subject, as Deleuze puts it, becomes the “nomadic” subject. In other words, if Deleuze is Leibnizian, it is only by eliminating the idea of a God who chooses the best of all possible worlds, with its pre-established harmony and well-established selves; in Deleuze, incompossibilities and dissonances belong to one and the same world, the only world, our world. But they belong to our world as its virtual register; developing the thought of the virtual is one of the great challenges of Deleuze's masterpiece, Difference and Repetition, to which we now turn."

"In isolating the conditions of genesis, Deleuze sets up a tripartite ontological scheme, positing three interdependent registers: the virtual, intensive, and actual. Overlooking many important nuances, we can say that Deleuze's basic notion is that in all realms of being intensive morphogenetic processes follow differential virtual multiplicities to produce localized and individuated actual substances with extensive properties. Simply put, the actualization of the virtual proceeds by way of intensive processes. For orientation purposes, it's useful to consider Gilbert Simondon's theory of individuation as a very simple model for what Deleuze calls “actualization.” For Simondon, crystallization is a paradigm of individuation: a supersaturated solution is metastable; from that pre-individuated field, replete with gradients of density that are only implicit “forms” or “potential functions,” individual crystals precipitate out. The crucial difference is that crystals form in homogenous solutions, while the Deleuzean virtual is composed of “Ideas” or “multiplicities” involving differential relations among heterogeneous components, linked rates of change of, for instance, cell division and gene expression in embryogenesis as mediated by “positional information.”"

"To see how Ideas are transcendental and immanent, we have to appreciate that an Idea is a concrete universal, unlike Kantian concepts of the understanding. In an early article on Bergson (“The Conception of Difference in Bergson” [1956]), Deleuze gave a particularly helpful example of this distinction. In La Pensée et le Mouvant, Bergson had shown that there are two ways of determining what the spectrum of “colors” have in common. (1) You can extract from particular colors an abstract and general idea of color (“by removing from the red that which makes it red, from the blue what makes it blue, from the green what makes it green”). Or, (2) you can make all these colors “pass through a convergent lens, bringing them to a single point,” in which case a “pure white light” is obtained that “makes the differences between the shades stand out.” The former case defines a single generic “concept” with a plurality of objects; the relation between concept and object is one of subsumption; and the state of difference remains exterior to the thing. The second case, on the contrary, defines a differential Idea in the Deleuzean sense: the different colors are no longer objects under a concept, but constitute an order of mixture in coexistence and succession within the Idea; the relation between the Idea and a given color is not one of subsumption, but one of actualization and differenciation; and the state of difference between the concept and the object is internalized in the Idea itself, so that the concept itself has become the object. White light is still a universal, but it is a concrete universal, and not a genus or generality. The Idea of color is thus like white light, which “perplexes” within itself the genetic elements and relations of all the colors, but which is actualized in the diverse colors and their respective spaces. (Like the word “problem,” Deleuze uses the word “perplexion” to signify, not a coefficient of doubt, hesitation, or astonishment, but the multiple and virtual state of Ideas. Indeed, Deleuze adopts a number of neoplatonic notions to indicate the structure of Ideas, all of which are derived from the root word ‘pli’ [fold]: perplication, complication, implication, explication, and replication.) Similarly, the Idea of sound could be conceived of as a white noise, just as there is also a white society or a white language, which contains in its virtuality all the phonemes and relations destined to be actualized in the diverse languages and in the remarkable parts of a same language."

"A Thousand Plateaus maintains the tripartite ontological scheme of all of Deleuze's work, but, as the title indicates, with geological terms of reference. Deleuze and Guattari call the virtual “the Earth,” the intensive is called “consistency,” and the actual is called “the system of the strata.” As the latter term indicates, one of the foci of their investigations is the tendency of some systems to head toward congealment or stratification. More precisely put, any concrete system is composed of intensive processes tending toward the (virtual) plane of consistency and/or toward (actual) stratification. We can say that all that exists is the intensive, tending towards the limits of virtuality and actuality; these last two ontological registers do not “exist,” but they do “insist,” to use one of Deleuze's terms. Nothing ever instantiates the sheer frozen stasis of the actual nor the sheer differential dispersion of the virtual; rather, natural or worldly processes are always and only actualizations, that is, they are processes of actualization structured by virtual multiplicities and heading toward an actual state they never quite attain. More precisely, systems also contain tendencies moving in the other direction, toward virtuality; systems are more or less stable sets of processes moving in different directions, toward actuality and toward virtuality. In still other words, Deleuze and Guattari are process philosophers; neither the structures of such processes nor their completed products merit the same ontological status as processes themselves. With this perspective, Deleuze and Guattari offer a detailed and complex “open system” which is extraordinarily rich and complex. A useful way into it is to follow the concepts of coding, stratification and territorialization. They are related in the following manner. Coding is the process of ordering matter as it is drawn into a body; by contrast, stratification is the process of creating hierarchal bodies, while territorialization is the ordering of those bodies in “assemblages,” that is to say, an emergent unity joining together heterogeneous bodies in a “consistency.”"

"We will deal with Deleuze and the arts in some detail below. In discussing What is Philosophy?, let us concentrate on the treatment of the relation of philosophy and science. We should remember at the outset that the nomad or minor science evoked in A Thousand Plateaus is not the Royal or major science that makes up the entirety of what Deleuze and Guattari call ‘science’ in What is Philosophy?. The motives for this conflation are unclear; in the eyes of some, this change considerably weakens the value of the latter work. Be that as it may, in What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari vigorously deny that philosophy is needed to help science think about its own presuppositions (“no one needs philosophy to reflect on anything” [WP 6]). Instead, they emphasize the complementary nature of the two. First, they point out a number of similarities between philosophy and science: both are approaches to “chaos” that attempt to bring order to it, both are creative modes of thought, and both are complementary to each other, as well as to a third mode of creative thought, art. Beyond these similarities, Deleuze and Guattari distinguish between philosophy as the creation of concepts on a plane of immanence and science as the creation of functions on a plane of reference. Both relate to the virtual, the differential field of potential transformations of material systems, but in different ways. Philosophy gives consistency to the virtual, mapping the forces composing a system as pure potentials, what the system is capable of. Meanwhile, science gives it reference, determining the conditions by which systems behave the way they actually do. Philosophy is the “counter-effectuation of the event,” abstracting an event or change of pattern from bodies and states of affairs and thereby laying out the transformative potentials inherent in things, the roads not taken that coexist as compossibles or as inclusive disjunctions (differentiation, in the terms of Difference and Repetition), while science tracks the actualization of the virtual, explaining why this one road was chosen in a divergent series or exclusive disjunction (differenciation, according to Difference and Repetition). Functions predict the behavior of constituted systems, laying out their patterns and predicting change based on causal chains, while concepts “speak the event” (WP 21), mapping out the multiplicity structuring the possible patterns of behavior of a system—and the points at which the system can change its habits and develop new ones. For Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy?, then, science deals with properties of constituted things, while philosophy deals with the constitution of events. Roughly speaking, philosophy explores the plane of immanence composed of constellations of constitutive forces that can be abstracted from bodies and states of affairs. It thus maps the range of connections a thing is capable of, its “becomings” or “affects.” Science, on the other hand, explores the concretization of these forces into bodies and states of affairs, tracking the behavior of things in relation to already constituted things in a certain delimited region of space and time (the “plane of reference”). How do concepts relate to functions? Just as there is a “concept of concept” there are also “concepts of functions,” but these are purely philosophical creations “without the least scientific value” (WP 117). Thus concrete concepts like that of “deterritorialization” are philosophical concepts, not scientific functions, even though they might resonate with, or echo, scientific functions. Nor are they metaphors, as Deleuze and Guattari repeatedly insist:

"Of course, we realize the dangers of citing scientific propositions outside their own sphere. It is the danger of arbitrary metaphor or of forced application. But perhaps these dangers are averted if we restrict ourselves to taking from scientific operators a particular conceptualizable character which itself refers to non?scientific areas, and converges with science without applying it or making it a metaphor (Deleuze 1989: 129).

Deleuze and Guattari's refusal to recognize that their work contains metaphors is due to their struggle against the “imperialism” of the signifying regime, a major theme in both Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus: not every relation between different intellectual fields can be grasped by the most common notions of “metaphor,” reliant as they are on the notion of a transfer of sense from primary to secondary signification.""

"5. Deleuze and the Arts

Kant had dissociated aesthetics into two halves: the theory of sensibility as the form of possible experience (the “Transcendental Aesthetic” of the Critique of Pure Reason), and the theory of art as a reflection on real experience (the “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment” in the Critique of Judgment). In Deleuze's work, these two halves of aesthetics are reunited: if the most general aim of art is to “produce a sensation,” then the genetic principles of sensation are at the same time the principles of composition for works of art; conversely, it is works of art that are best capable of revealing these conditions of sensibility. Deleuze therefore writes on the arts not as a critic but as a philosopher, and his books and essays on the various arts—including the cinema (Cinema I and II), literature (Essays Critical and Clinical), and painting (Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation)—must be read as philosophical explorations of this transcendental domain of sensibility. The cinema, for instance, produces images that move, and that move in time, and it is these two aspects of film that Deleuze set out to analyze in The Movement-Image and The Time-Image: “What exactly does the cinema show us about space and time that the other arts don't show?” Deleuze thus describes his two-volume Cinema as “a book of logic, a logic of the cinema” that sets out “to isolate certain cinematographic concepts,” concepts which are specific to the cinema, but which can only be formed philosophically. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation likewise creates a series of philosophical concepts, each of which relates to a particular aspect of Bacon's paintings, but which also find a place in “a general logic of sensation.” In general, Deleuze will locate the conditions of sensibility in an intensive conception of space and a virtual conception of time, which are necessarily actualized in a plurality of spaces and a complex rhythm of times (for instance, in the non-extended spaces and non-linear times of modern mathematics and physics)."


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Web: Avatar Agency, A Talking Richard Rorty Bot?

Z & Scott's facebook conversation yesterday - conceiving how independent avatars might conversationally emerge, using Richard Rorty as an example, and vis-a-vis poker bots, Chomsky bot and the Turing test

Hey, Z, briefly

How's it going?

hey scott

i'm doing well, how are you

Well, thanks, too.

what are you up to these days

Any further thoughts about avatar agency?

Lost you


you there?

What are you working on?

i'm in consulting

telecom media tech

Have you finished your BA?

yeah i just graduated

probably going to law school next year

interesting projects, compared with what you might find optimal?


makes sense

what might you find optimal?

hmm tough to say

i dunno, i wanted to try the business thing

and making a bit of money is nice, i guess

and its certainly in an area that i'm interested in

there are creative opportunities there, too, especially with IT still

I can imagine

yeah... i think i'll probably end up going to law school, do ip law or something

its a good merger of my interests and my skills. i'll probably do dc or local politics for a while too.

Z is no longer online. The following was not sent:

I'm exploring creating a World University - MIT OCW and Wikipedia

what are you up to these days, scott?

you may have two emails in facebook about what I'm up to - teaching "Society and Information Technology in SL, ethnography and world university

Teaching "Society and Information Technology" in SL, and working on an ethnography about Harbin Hot Springs, with a 3-D modeling aspect - harbin.org
And you?

I'm exploring creating a World University - MIT OCW and Wikipedia - where anyone might post a course or request a course, - and probably with a foundation, as well as opportunities to teach.

World University is a very open ended project, and potentially will continue that way


that's cool stuff

so you must still be very involved with berkman

I'd like to start a foundation for World Univ

What's optimal is an interesting question in terms of learning and Universities. What would be most fun ways or subjects to learn for you at the Univ level?


I'm in touch with a number of faculty at Berkman - just heard Palfrey talk about "Born Digital" in SF

yeah, he's a rockstar.

really - optimality that soars, thinking broadly


gosh, i don't know--i feel like i'm pretty biased from my college experience

there were courses that i thought i'd like that i was bored sick of

and courses i thought would be boring that were incredible

intro computer science, for instance

and the incredible ones were? And why?

i enjoyed cs, intro psych

structured flow experiences that led to constructing something?

kantian ethics

all sorts of weird stuff

yeah that helped

but ultimately just stuff i was interested in.

why kantian ethics?

I can see why the 1st two might be interested in terms of 'flow'

it's just fascinating. kant's ethics is sublime--the epitome of pure reason.

probably similarly with kantian ethics?

kant's ethics is very... analytic

very logically driven

is it well structured? or one aspect?

well a great professor

well structured by any standard, i'm sure

but its hard to compare across fields like that

Yea - Was psych logical, as well? or insightful, or both?

more the latter.

they are such distinct fields

just really fascinating stuff -- this is how we think.

sorry i can't be more helpful. i'll think about it, though.

i'm curious, - about psych vis-a-vis avatar agency, too


Rorty recorded into a database and then delivered semantically and interactively through an avatar?

if you come across any parts of that scenario - programs, etc. - please let me know - do you know of any?


stating with poker bots that might be coded to deliver sentences rather than poker hands

for example

that sounds sweet

and realizable, - but how?


i imagine that would be the easy part

making the delivery meaningful, harder

so the 'semantic' program might get as close as the chomsky bot, for example, but not closer?


at least you'd have to do some convincing

more bandwidth? :):)

always a start.

run chomsky bot faster, and get to more reaslitic meaning more quickly?

believable, that is - closer to Turing's ideal (that's what it is, isn't it?)


will it be enough? i guess we'll see.

why not start afresh with a sophisticated poker bot, or does that basic software 'underlie' the chomsky bot?

...where the playing of hands was accelerated with bandwidth, such that semantic delivery developed in 3-4 directions, and thus conversationally, and thus depart from the premises of Chomsky bot software?

developing the semantic delivery doesn't solve the root problem though

a kind of theater-game, word game, dialogue generativity software approach

it's still an algorithim

for flexible understanding

understanding is a malleable term

and novel conjunctions of ideas?

by understanding, you mean it's a mutating algorithim, or some such thing

the argument isn't that such an algorithim couldn't solve the problem. it's just that its highly unlikely given we don't understand what the problem is.

mutating or conversational

we don't know enough about our own language, our own brains, to create a machine capable of emulating it

defining understanding in computational terms? or defining conversation similarly? or, in terms of Rorty, defining philosophy?

so, semantics, superficially, is what you mean

more or less

i'm just a skeptic of reverse engineering.

which, I wonder?

superficially is too perjorative

I have to go soon, but Terrence Deacon at Berkeley who wrote "The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of the Brain and Language" (his Harvard Ph.D.) takes a reverse engineering approach, - there are lots of sophisticated communicative species as a start

i'll keep an eye out for it

thanks for the heads up

and for the conversation.

I have to do something now, but let's talk soon - likewise


cheers scott

(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2008/09/web-avatar-agency-talking-richard-rorty.html - September 23, 2008)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Flowers: Optimalness for People When There's No Warm Water

Great ideas in clothing-optional warm pools


delightful flow experiences in an anthropology, philosophy or idea-oriented class?

Positive intimacy?


Neurophysiological loving bliss?

How to synthesize and orchestrate these over decades?

Relaxation Response

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Green Figs: Loving Bliss, Film in Harbin Theater, Harbin Domes and Watsu Freedom


The green figs are ripe and sweet on the hill just below the new little deck at the Harbin pool area. Mmmmm.

A mother is kissing her baby very lovingly near me on the sundeck. She's cuddled over her baby, and he's very happy, smiling, elated, ~ he's laughing and glowing. Both are naked. They're both very happy. Her full breast graces his foot. He smiles and giggles as she kisses his neck and face again and again. What a happy boy and loving mother. It looks like very loving Bonobo behavior, which Bonobo do throughout their lifetime. Where is this in human affairs? How might one generate this locally and societally, good will and all? Both mother and son are creating a state of natural, loving bliss.

I saw the film “Surfwise” (2007) last night in the Harbin theater. It's about a California family – the father received his medical degree from Stanford University – who, after getting fed up with society and practicing medicine in Hawaii (he was the president of the American Medical Association in Hawaii) in 1956, got into a camping van, and traveled up and down the California and Mexican coasts to surf. His whole family's life came to revolve around this love of surfing, as a response to the disaffections of society. They became very connected to the Pacific Ocean, and lived very simply in doing so. They did this for decades, having 9 children. They all lived together like puppies in a number of small-ish recreational vehicles. As one son says in the film, they had a perfect spirituality. They were free, very happy and since everyone grew up surfing, they became very good surfers. It's an example of a response to modernity. And Dorian, the father, shapes this independent response to modernity through his individual will and unique vision of a surfing family having fun. And things seem to work out well for the kids, both socially and economically, as well as for the family after the kids became independent adults. The film is inspiring, and echoes Harbin's orientation to freedom.

As I was walking up from the Temple last night after hearing LeAnn and her partner, Carlos (wavegarden.net), sing, play dulcimer-autoharp (pentatonic zithers), and play singing bells that vibrate beautifully, a woman, C, standing at the top of the steps of Stonefront Lodge near the restaurant, asked me by name if I would like to have a Watsu {water shiatsu} the next morning. She was taking a class and needed a model. It would be free. I said yes.

I arrived at 9 am at the Harbin Domes this morning. As you walk toward this beautiful and interesting structure, you see three domes that look like beige bubbles with windows. They house the School of Watsu and Massage at the Harbin Hot Springs Watsu Center, but seem a little mysterious and 'other,' like some kinds of indigenous architecture. The area around the Harbin Domes is still natural, wild and very beautiful, situated on other side of the Harbin Valley from the Mainside pool area.

Inside the Watsu Center, there are a number of pools designed specifically with Watsu in mind. I went to the lower pool and A~ from Santa Cruz, California, about 4 hours away, was holding a class. We all wore bathing suits in the lower pool, different from in the Harbin Mainside area. A couple from Germany, and a woman from Holland who lives locally, were taking the week-long workshop. A~ was teaching some specific techniques to these folks. The people taking the class seemed new to Harbin, and weren't aware of the 'freedoms' here - just laying out in the sun and going into the pools naked and seeing what comes up in the milieu - in the Mainside area across the Valley. But as Watsu students from another country coming to the place where Watsu started, they were offered what seemed to me a kind of slightly more familiarly structured (learning and with clothes) environment, than Harbin's free-form focus. C's floating me as she learned Watsu was lovely.

Watsu can be very free, intimate, fluid, mutual and freeing, and kind of began with hippies floating each other in the Harbin warm pool, and sometimes making love together afterward. These week-long schools will help people do Watsu better, as well as spread it.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Landscape: Dances of Universal Peace, Musical Philosophy at Harbin

What's optimal in life vis-a-vis Harbin and how to get there? Harbin is actualized and very cool. I'd like to explore loving bliss and these 5 related love bliss letters I've written, which I'm exploring in related ways here in this blog. How to turn this into 'music' and far-reaching thought?

Create a rambling, musical philosophy?

I hear a flute in the distance from my tent at Harbin. Synchronicity can be very salutary and fascinating at Harbin.

I went to “Dances of Universal Peace” in the Harbin Temple last night. Gaya facilitated this. Many of the musicians drove from Sebastopol, in northern California, a little more than an hour away. It was both beautiful and edifying. Beautiful because people came to a very loving energy, and edifying because it confirms my thinking that this kind of dance is a 'technology' for cultivating love and peace that you can feel, - people generated 'loving' energy pretty wonderfully. I didn't recognize many of the people there last night. I had only met Gaya before, and Joe Tzu, whom I know, was there as well. Five musicians sat in the middle on the circular carpet, and very skillfully and integrally contributed to what emerged. And the people danced in a ring around them. People looked very folksy - Harbin in general is more eclectic - with many women in skirts in earthen colors, or beautiful, bright colors. So, Harbin in its complexity draws people from a variety of places around northern California and becomes a center for these energy-generations and exchanges. But it's really just a hot springs' retreat center.

During the Sufi dance last night, I wondered about Harbin's refractory qualities – people come with their own unique energies, on their own trips, and these can be refracted or redirected like light in new directions through being at Harbin. Harbin has also been around for almost 4 decades now since Ishvara bought the property, and therefore has become complex due to its history – a lot goes on here in a lot of different ways as the result of this time – and people see what they want to see in Harbin, and come for things ~ experiences and thinking ~ they know they may get. It's hard to get an overview of Harbin, although Ishvara and the longest residents have seen a lot.

I hadn't seen Sufi dances of universal peace at Harbin done before, but they probably have happened with some regularity. Why was this on the schedule last night?

Harbin is also a kind of fractal experiment. The waters can rearrange light in novel ways, and create new geometries, metaphorically.

Let's go see. ... I'm heading from my tent to the pools now, along the village path. The sky is beautifully blue again, after raining enough yesterday (Friday, September 19, 2008) to get my sleeping bags, which were out while I was in town, a little wet. This is one of the first rains of the autumn, another sign of fall. This beautiful landscape and Harbin, seen through my tent's rad skylights, make me happy to be here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moonlight at Harbin in the Oak Forest

The moonlight at Harbin in the oak forest with boulders all around casts such intricate shadows. I returned last night to camp at Harbin. The pools in the morning are so welcoming.

And the pools ease you richly, creating a harmonizing effect with your neurophysiology.

How to engage this effect musically?

Into the pools soon again ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bird of Paradise: Relaxation Response, Music, 'Flow' in a City

Practicing a musical instrument can offer somehow richer and more immediate access to "flow: the psychology of optimal experience" experiences, than not. Let's go 'there' now. {Omega-3 fatty acids (1000 mg, 3-4 times per day from flax seed oil, for example) can help}.

While Harbin also more gives rise to "flow: the psychology of optimal experience" experiences in the aggregate, than almost any place I know, Harbin's pools, beauty, easy sense of time and freeing, as well as communal sociality, aren't readily available in a city. So dancing-in-mind, while creating sound patterns - practicing, especially when this information-technology-for-flow is fluent, lyrical and rhythmic {what is optimal here for you, in ongoing ways, - and profoundly so?} - offers avenues for exploring 'flow,' and sometimes bliss. And when the relaxation response in a beautiful, communal, warm pool isn't readily available, one can come inwardly, exploring the relaxation response, for example, quite richly in a city (shaped by Modernity). I find this has beneficial consequences in other aspects of life, as well. I'm not sure how this works neurophysiologically, but I think it has something to do with integrating the biology of one's bodymind through easing, with related social benefits vis-a-vis empathy.

How might I or we learn how to develop this in a virtual University? And how would a virtual Harbin help facilitate this (for example, building on an extraordinary performance, audio or video recording, of Mozart's "Magic Flute," and also making it interactive in innovative, ongoing ways)?

What is the anthropology of this? And of practicing a musical instrument to elicit far-reaching flow experiences? And vis-a-vis brain research?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ocher Rose: Harbin Temple, Architecture, Masterpiece

The Harbin temple is so beautiful. It has 3 copper cones on top, with a brass sun orb at its point. The roof looks alive with many angles, has shingles of 2 colors of brown, a cupola with cone skylight on top, beneath the brass spires. The roof looks like a beautiful, old, straw hat, and from the inside the Temple's roof could be the work of a very fine shipbuilder, with arced beams. The cob finish work around the bathrooms in swirly, and much more richly so than art nouveau, and has a lot of beautiful stone inlays. Everybody put the cob (mud) on the bales (of hay) together, naked, in the spring of 2005 (I was around).

Inside, the floor has texture, but is also smooth, and redden, like red earth, and heated from below. The temple is like a Native American sacred space. It's modern and is comfortable, too. It's made for Harbin, so hippies are comfortable here. There's a harmonium and cushions for circles, gatherings, and Kirtan (chanting), and a sound system for dances, and nice, wooden furniture that holds yoga props. The inside roof sweeps up, all in wood.

The building is situated very beautifully toward the beginning of the Harbin Mainside area, adjacent to the Harbin garden. It expresses Harbin and yet is uniquely beautiful, and compared with the other Harbin buildings. Sun Ray designed it. The building has a harmonizing effect for me.

It's a mini-masterpiece.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bliss: Harbin Ways and Waterdance

Waterdance is one way to access bliss quite fully at Harbin {for me}. So is realizing the present, - now, especially vis-a-vis waterdance. {Waterdance is done underwater and is a development from Watsu - water shiatsu, which is done on the water's surface}. Why don't many people explore this further?

Engaging waterdance {or, possibly more developed, singing} as a way to chart goals in eliciting loving bliss as if practicing a musical instrument opens so many ways to explore this innovatively - http://scottmacleod.com/GuidelinesPracticingLovingBlissvavMusicalInstrument.htm. After tens of thousands of generations that precede us and as many more ahead, why not richly explore these creative practices to realize bliss now, and in ongoing, new ways?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Language: Harbin Communication

Harbin's uniqueness is partly about communication. How does this work? At Harbin today, I saw the film "When Animals Talk," (2006) which featured primatologist Jane Goodall, N'Kisi, an African Grey Parrot {who knew 1077 words at the time of this video} and her human friend Aimee Morgana, whale and elephant communication researcher Katy Payne (who has studied very low frequencies of sound, inaudible to humans, with which whales and elephants communicate, first making an association with a pipe organ at Cornell University to initiate this research), and Rupert Sheldrake. There are many animal species with unique, sophisticated, communicative systems, and these researchers above befriend and learn about communication - through communication - in their research.

How to study the unspoken communication processes - the beginnings of a language? - at Harbin Hot Springs, which seem unique and geographically specific? Is there an ecology to it?

In what ways are New Age thinking and astrology at Harbin an expression of unique communication processes? And how do the Harbin pools communicate the harmonizing effect?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Brain: Harbin Pools, Harmonizing Effects, and 'Neurophysiological' Being

There's something about the Harbin pools, that brings one to this very free and easy space, – neurophysiologically. I just came out of the pools, and am 'there' a little.

What goes on? How can one characterize this and study it?

How can one look at this from the perspective of brain research? I'll talk more with a faculty member at Berkeley about this. I'm enjoying sitting-in occasionally in his class on the evolution of language and the brain a lot. How can one study this, in order to make the experience more accessible for people?

It's the otherness of this way of being, a kind of transformation from normal day-to-day patterns and analyses, - to this harmonizing-way-of-being, that is very interesting to me. And it's understanding this in material and biological terms that is also fascinating, and may be relatively under-studied.

My focus with Harbin, in some ways, is on life in the pools, the effects of the pools on people, and in relation to the social life that is at Harbin. The Harbin warm pool is my field, anthropologically, - my field site.

The day is warm on the sun deck, but the light is growing long, and sunset is coming earlier than ever. It's only 5 pm and it feels like almost-dusk. There are only a few more weekends of warm weather when everyone will be out relaxing on the sun deck, so we're coming toward the end of summer. That people have come out and relaxed on this sun deck for around 37 years with great regularity in the warm weather suggests a kind of reproduction of a pattern, of a set of practices which I might call a culture, or an assemblage. But maybe it's just the Harbin pool area, and what is and has been, - without explanation.

Harbin can often attract folks who are 'out there,' or willing to think on their own or in ways that are different.

Could we all be in the pools together, dancing together in ease, - in and around every city in the U.S.?

And if so, why aren't there unique hot spring retreat centers everywhere? The cultural reasons I would suggest have to do with 'taboos' about the body, shaped possibly by the Judeo-Christian or spiritual traditions or a folk metaphysic, taboos about relaxation, enjoyment and pleasure, as well as ideas and practices relating to what's possible. Many people don't recognize how regenerative and sensible Harbin is.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Grasses: People Are Mostly Nude at Harbin

People are mostly naked at Harbin, especially around the pool area. People find freedom this way, as well as a degree of harmony, and return again and again for this. This is also affirmed in Harbin's social milieu, in contrast, perhaps, to practices in U.S. society.

People are also mostly nude in the pools themselves. This leads somehow to a mingling of energies that is both communal and salutary.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Phloem: How We May Elicit Loving Bliss

I'm curious how to elicit the neurophysiology of loving bliss naturally. I've written about aspects of ways to elicit this in five letters on my web site.

In brief, here's how I think it works. I'll start with a first person account, and then extrapolate, so that you might begin to explore this. I'm curious also to explore this through fundamental biological research.

Having explored and experimented with eliciting this neurophysiology naturally {through thinking}, I think bliss and loving bliss are 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences. I find ready access to this experience sometimes when I relax into the relaxation response first. I can relax into the relaxation response quite readily in the warm pool at Harbin Hot Springs, but also in many other situations, but perhaps not quite so fully in other places. When I do release, bliss can start to rise up in my bodymind, which I experience, in my language, neurophysiologically. (Here's my definition of bliss: ~ experiences that are deeply, gratefully, reciprocally appreciative and affectionate, both with a friend or friends, and alone, as well as profoundly and naturally high at the same time, and which are ongoing, biological, 'flow' experiences). This focus {flow experience} of releasing and then continuing to release/relax {my face, my eyes, my ear passage ways, activity in my mind, tensions in my body, softening in conjunction with deepening and easing my breathing as I focus on it for some minutes, etc.} is a key basis, but in some situations only. Whether or not bliss begins for me in any given situation, or releasing process, is variable. When bliss is starting to happen, I find it helpful to continue to focus on releasing and relaxing, as I welcome on these experiences/this chemistry of this bliss. When these experiences are intense, I would readily call the experience loving bliss. When bliss~loving bliss is happening in my bodymind, moving back and forth between the Harbin hot pool and cold plunge, while releasing, can deepen this experience. The beautiful natural surroundings at Harbin also facilitate these experiences.

I'm also able to access these experiences naturally, and predictably repeatedly, through contra-dancing and listening to some arias in Mozart's 'Magic flute.' Both can bring on intense neural cascades of pleasure (my language), in different ways. In a sense, these are both interventions and technologies that elicit bliss with some regularity.

Sometimes I can elicit bliss and loving bliss with just a memory. This process of remembering, by bringing my awareness to prior blissful experiences is integral to eliciting it now. Sometimes I can imagine bliss to experience it.

I'm interested both in what is occurring in my bodymind research-wise {for example, vis-a-vis Richard Davidson, Terrence Deacon, and Herbert Benson MD's approaches to related research}, as well as how to elicit these experiences with more regularity, and freedom, as if one were surfing a wave, or singing a line of music rapturously and floating on this, perhaps via wu wei (non-action), - by doing less. What is going on in the brain in these instances neurophysiologically?

Here are some initial ideas/hypotheses about how this might work neurophysiologically. In the brain, the nucleus acumbent would have experienced this pleasure / chemistry before and encourage this chemistry again and again. The amygdala would not play an inhibitory role here, or give rise to aversive experience. In one kind of loving bliss experience, MDMA-related chemicals (from the drug Ecstasy) and romantic love chemicals (heightened levels of four neurotrophins, - i.e. NGF, BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 (Emanuele et al., 2005)) would possibly cross a threshold of intensity and start flourishing in the brain. This might start in many ways. All of these experiences are 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experiences, when they involve concentration; the response from MDMA is a drug response, as reference experience. How might we examine this both rigorously, pragmatically, as well as if music that inspires us?

I'm curious how one might deepen these experiences and make them more varied, as well. Might one listen to certain pieces of music, or actually sing, in such a way as to elicit loving bliss more deeply and innovatively. How might you create a dance with these experiences in your own mind, to deepen these feelings / enhance this chemistry? Might we create a parallel to chamber music, bliss-brains (MDMA ~ Ecstasy ~ methylene_dioxy_meth_amphetamine) making music, and create/find a form which facilitates this fantastically? I think so, but I'm not sure how. Here are some exploratory guidelines for eliciting loving bliss as if we were practicing a musical instrument: http://scottmacleod.com/GuidelinesPracticingLovingBlissvavMusicalInstrument.htm

In writing these paragraphs above, I experienced some 'flow' experience, but not what I call bliss. I'm curious how to integrate the experience of bliss ~ say, a 'MDMA brain' ~ with many ways of engaging life, including writing. Metaphorically, I conceive of these experiences partly as forms of water transport in plants, ~ from the Harbin tree down into our bodyminds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Xylem: Communal House in Berkeley, Harbin, Deleuze's Virtuality

I stayed at an old friend's communal, or collective, house in Berkeley last night. About 10 people live there in a loose community, including one 4 year old. We shared a delicious moussaka dinner, with a very tasty bechamel sauce, and salad. There are two cottages in the backyard. I was impressed that the 4 year old and everyone but one other person had visited Harbin Hot Springs numerous times. So my friend's housemates are some of the people who visit Harbin. Many of my new friends have gone to the "Rainbow Gathering" and "Burning Man," too.

In a Berkeley graduate class and in Wikipedia, I learned of Gilles Deleuze's contribution to conceiving of virtuality. Here's an excerpt:

"Like Kant and Bergson, Deleuze considers traditional notions of space and time as unifying categories imposed by the subject, that is, he considers them to be forms of identity. Therefore he concludes that pure difference is non-spatio-temporal; it is an idea, what he calls "the virtual". (The coinage refers not to the "virtual reality" of the computer age, but to Proust's definition of the past: "real without being actual, ideal without being abstract."[14]) While Deleuze's virtual ideas superficially resemble Plato's forms and Kant's ideas of pure reason, they are not originals or models, nor do they transcend possible experience; instead they are the conditions of actual experience, the internal difference in itself. "The concept they [the conditions] form is identical to its object."[15] A Deleuzean idea or concept of difference is not a wraith-like abstraction of an experienced thing, it is a real system of differential relations that creates actual spaces, times, and sensations.[16]"

14 Proust, Le Temps Retrouvé, ch. III: see the fourth line from the bottom of this page, or, in English translation, the thirteenth paragraph here.
15 Desert Islands, p. 36.
16 See "The Method of Dramatization" in Desert Islands, and "Actual and Virtual" in Dialogues.

- Deleuze, Gilles. 1977 (2nd exp. ed. 1996, with Claire Parnet). Dialogues. Trans. Dialogues (1987, 2nd exp. ed. 2002).
- Deleuze, Gilles. 2002. L'île déserte et autres textes. Trans. Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974 (2003).
- Proust, Marcel. Le Temps Retrouvé.

Virtual worlds like Second Life make possible the instantiation of ideas, and, in particular, potentially, these ideas.

Friends, Harbin visitors and virtuality are all water transport systems (xylem) of the Harbin tree.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The water is smart at Harbin

The water is smart at Harbin. A language is emerging in this valley, too. To listen to the water, though, involves becoming quiet.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gully: Harbin Hot Springs Cold Plunge

Tucked in a small gully in a small valley in northern California, the Harbin cold plunge complements and makes cool what happens in the hot pool. Right up in the woods and very beautifully situated, about 8 people can go into the Harbin cold plunge at any one time. Harbin usually puts fresh flowers at two places around it. The cold plunge is filled by a pipe from the upper side, and some people drink this fresh water. There's forest and hillside all around the cold plunge, - you're right in nature here, in a very quiet and beautiful corner of the world, doing something very regenerative.

You walk up wooden steps, from right outside the hot pool room, and near the warm pool, to get to it. The wooden steps can only really accommodate one person. Sometimes people passing the wind chimes at the top of the stairs push them to make a sound. There are two benches where people can lie or sit on the platform outside the cold plunge. There's a 2 foot high statue of Kwan Lin in front of one of the benches, and a very well-used foot-in-diameter black mortar, but no pestel. Kwan Lin usually has a some flowers, and colorful rocks line the stone wall here, - these become vivid when wet. The railing into the cold plunge is a beautiful arc of metal work made by the same sculptor that made the Dragon Gate and the hot plunge railing. While a sign says "Quiet Area," most people usually do not talk here.

I'm curious why the experience of going into the cold plunge, especially after the hot plunge, brings out everything from a smile to bliss in me quite frequently, just on a biological level.

Walking by the warm pool toward the hot pool and cold plunge is like going into a tropical forest in the high summer. The broad, richly green leaves of the Fig tree over the warm pool with the flora to the left of this path makes a kind of tunnel that is really forest like. It's a delight and makes me wonder whether we have kinds of ancestral memories of this encoded in DNA, or whether it just reminds me of Malaysia or India.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vent: Harbin's Hot Pool ~ Just-Right-Too-Hot

When entering the Harbin hot pool for the first time, one can barely do so. It's very hot (about 113 degrees fahrenheit / 60 degrees celsius) and sometimes it takes people a number of minutes to immerse themselves. Many people decide not to go in, for a while, and back out up the stairs, and sit down.

But when you're familiar with the temperature, going in gets relatively easy, and can even elicit bliss for me, with some regularity, - and the moving between hot pool and cold plunge can accentuate this emotional experience, neurophysiologically.

Hot Pool Room Art

In the hot pool room is a beautiful whale-with-ocean sculpture, and the hot water flows out of this whale's mouth. The railing, around the pool and including the banisters along the stairways, is made by the same sculptor, who also made the magnificent Dragon Gate casting near Harbin's office. The rail's fluid lines, sturdiness, artistry, and symbols both support people, allowing them to walk on both sets of steps securely, as well as swing freely into and out of the pools, and contribute richly to the aesthetic quality of being there. The symbols on this metal casting include a dinosaur egg with emerging dinosaur, a serpent eating an apple, a frog, clasped hands with a wing on one of them, a Native American peace pipe, a Buffalo head, a skinks or a local lizard-like reptile, a dolphin, a condor's head, a slightly sleepy and bemused dragon, a heart, two circles, and some other symbols. You would touch the dolphin on the banister if you were walking up the far steps, and you might hold onto the condor head walking up the steps closer to the two doors on the side of the room through which most people enter and exit. The railing was made in the mid-1990s. Attached to the rail on the side of the room with two doors is a black slab of a bench. Sometimes one's blood pressure changes (?) when leaving the pools, and setting on this bench is important and useful. These physiological changes are biological processes I'd like to learn more about.

There are 2 windows and 3 doorways in this lovely, 'atmospheric' room. In front of the upper window above the whale is the bust of a woman with flowing hair, into which fresh flowers are placed regularly. I enjoy looking at them when I enter the hot water as they focus my attention on lovely shapes and colors. Under this are some candle holders with lit candles at night. And in the whale sculpture are two candle holders, as well. At the quieter, farther side of the room from which people come in, are two benches, and a door out to the main warm pool walkway. Relatively few people use these benches in my experience. Behind the benches is a window that looks out on some tree trunks and hillside, which sometimes can appear naturally illuminated quite remarkably. Above the benches in the left hand ceiling corner is a metal candle holder/lamp that looks a little like a samovar. The colors in the mural on the wall opposite the whale remind me of being on the ocean with its clouds, blues and grays, - specifically of Buzzard's Bay near New Bedford, Massachusetts, curiously. Waves crest along the bottom of this mural and the painting can be integral to being in the hot pool. I once saw an artist, up to her shins in the hot water, touching it up. I sometimes let the image and its shades bring my imagination to releasing and watery places. The light in the hot pool room in pleasantly shaded, and very varied during the course of the day, although I see it as blue-green much of the time. The roof of the hot pool room is simple wood which has weatherd. Above the wall painting are some colored curvy glass pieces of many colors. Art is alive at Harbin, and sometimes I think of all of Harbin as a kind of live canvas.

Even though Harbin is a kind of a liminal - a betwixt and between retreat center - place, where communitas arises quite readily, Harbin also produces its own structure, - rules and social ordering, etc. So, for example, the sign in the hot pool says "Silence" and people observe this. (But Harbin did ask me to play my bagpipes in the pool area on Easter in 2005, including walking through the pool area, creating a kind of liminality within generally liminal space. So Harbin is flexible).

The cold plunge is just above the hot pool, and moving between the two pools, while releasing and relaxing, can be very enjoyable, integrating and even blissful for me, an experience which is different from loving bliss. The experience of being in the hot pool is very varied, but intense and enlivening for many.

The neurophysiology of being in the pools, and moving, in particular, between the hot pool and cold plunge, is something I'd like to focus on further. What is this neurophysiology?

While the hot pool, and warm pool adjacent to it, were here when Ishvara bought the property in 1972, the cold plunge above it was created since that time. Both are near 'perfect' in their own ways, and it's these pools that seem to bring people back again and again., and give rise to so many unique aspects of Harbin's experience.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thistle: Foucault's Care of the Self and Harbin Hot Springs

Foucault's Care of the Self and Harbin Hot Springs

In examining how caring for the self functions, Michel Foucault, in the 'Course Summary' in his "Hermeneutics of the Subject," problematizes how caring works. For Foucault, care of the self - epimeleia heautou and cura sui (491) - refers philosophically to taking care of oneself and being concerned about oneself. For Foucault, this involves a kind of therapeutic practice, and also having free time to further this. For Foucault, even as a philosophical activity, it's “a form of activity, where the term epimeleia itself refers not just to an attitude of awareness or a form of attention focused on oneself; it designates a regular occupation, a work with its methods and objectives" (493). So the questions I'll problematize in this essay are: “How would care of the self 'function' on-the-ground at Harbin Hot Springs?” What does the concept of self-knowledge (494), in caring for the self, refer to for Foucault, using Harbin as a site of inquiry? And what does the concept of askesis (498) refer to, also in relation to Harbin. Lastly, what are examples of practices of care of the self at Harbin? Harbin is significant as a site of inquiry because it's an unique assemblage that may make possible specific ways to care for the self.

Foucault uses the metaphor of a farm as his first example of how caring for the self would function, presumably referring to farming practices - caring for and raising plants and animals, presumably as one would oneself. Engaging this metaphor, the aspect of how caring for the self 'functions' that I'm most interested in, vis-a-vis Foucault, has to do with the flourishing and effortlessness that farms at certain times of the year exhibit, to which the practice of farming as a form of caring would give rise.

Foucault's starting point is the Alcibiades, concerning the care of the self, in relation to politics, pedagogy, and self-knowledge. With regard to pedagogy, engaging the practice of philosophy – thinking as an activity - provides a method for caring of the self at all ages. For Foucault, this consists of three functions: 1) a critical function (unlearning), 2) struggle (engagement) and 3) the culture of the self which is therapeutic and curative (495-496).
For Foucault, care of the self occurs through askesis (self-formation) – training as an athlete would (498). For Foucault this includes 1) listening, 2) writing, and 3) taking stock of oneself (500). These activities of self-formation engage then the activity of thinking – the practice of philosophy. The purpose of these care of the self techniques, through askesis, is to link together the truth and the subject.

So, the problematization that interests me most, in terms of caring for the self, vis-a-vis the metaphor of the farm, and the practices of self-learning and askesis (self-formation), is how one might cultivate this flourishing that a farm exhibits, through pedagogy and askesis, informed by philosophy, as a set of practices, in relation to Harbin.

As a farmer can help a farm to flourish through practices that shape it, caring for the self at Harbin Hot Springs, a hot springs' retreat center in northern California that emerged from counterculture in the early 1970s, occurs in a specific assemblage of practices for caring of the self. Fieldwork is one important approach to understanding this assemblage. In addition to examining Harbin ethnographically as a field site, I'd like to problematize the care of the self vis-a-vis Harbin additionally by creating a virtual Harbin - an interactive assemblage - in the form of a field (farm) or even field site. Creating a virtual Harbin Hot Springs might then even make possible a cultivation of comparable assemblages - actual and virtual Harbins - both of which might lead to an understanding of the care of the self vis-a-vis flourishing, in the ongoing examination of how caring for the self functions.

To further this problematization, and in conclusion, if one constructed a virtual Harbin using OpenSim (using open access virtual world software that engages the Second Life library of resources) as open equipment (Koopman et al 2007), how would care of the self function, in terms of pedagogy and askesis in this context. Both writing (ethnography) and programming (virtual world building) as practices could then contribute to problematizing the care of the self in new ways.


Foucault, Michel. 2001. The Hermeneutics of the Subject. New York, NY: Picador.

Koopman, Colin, Murrell, Mary and Schilling, Tom. 2007. A Diagnostic of Emerging Openness Equipment. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1069067

McGushin, Edward F. 2006. Foucault's Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life. Chicago, IL: Northwestern.

Rabinow, Paul. 2003. Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Essay written for Professor Paul Rabinow's "Modes of Veridiction and Jurisdiction" class at UC Berkeley

Back to the pools soon ~

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Honey: Care of the Self, Discourse and Harbin

For a course called 'Modes of Veridiction and Jurisdiction,' I'll focus here on the problematic in Foucault's “Course Summary” in his "Hermeneutics" of how the self 'functions,' in caring for the self, and examine Foucault's concepts of askesis (self-formation or practice) and discourse, using Harbin Hot Springs as a site of inquiry.

For Foucault, care of the self - epimeleia heautou and cura sui (491) - refers philosophically to taking care of oneself and being concerned about oneself. For Foucault, this involves a kind of therapeutic practice, and also having free time to further this. For Foucault, even as a philosophical activity, it's “a form of activity, where the term epimeleia itself refers not just to an attitude of awareness or a form of attention focused on oneself; it designates a regular occupation, a work with its methods and objectives" (493). So the questions I'll address here are: “how would care of the self 'function' on-the-ground at Harbin Hot Springs?” - And how would we know? What does the concept of discourse refer to for Foucault, using Harbin as a site of inquiry? And what does the concept of askesis (self-formation) refer to, also referring to Harbin. So, what are examples of practices of care of the self at Harbin? Harbin is significant as a site of inquiry because it's an unique assemblage.

Foucault uses the metaphor of a farm as his first example of how caring for the self would function, presumably referring to farming practices - caring for and raising plants and animals, as one would oneself. Engaging this metaphor, the aspect of how caring for the self 'functions' that I'm most interested in, vis-a-vis Foucault, has to do with the flourishing and effortlessness that farms at certain times of the year exhibit.

In a related vein, I'm also interested in:
{ways in which grounded research – field work – might shape the contours of a discourse that then gives rise to a set of practices – askesis – that then leads to self-formation {agency} vis-a-vis Harbin}
{the neurophysiology of bliss vis-a-vis Foucault}

So, the problematization that interests me most, in terms of caring for the self, vis-a-vis the metaphor of the farm, is how one might cultivate this flourishing, as a set of practices (askesis).

Understanding or studying a discourse - referring to a language that shapes knowledge and possibilities - then offers a way to cultivate and use statements that then might lead to practices which lead to flourishing, as a farmer helps a farm to flourish, at times. But since farming is a metaphor for Foucault for caring for the self, and discourse is the 'real farm,' in a sense, I'd like to explore creating an interactive discourse - a field or even field site - such as is possible in creating a virtual world. Creating a virtual Harbin Hot Springs might then even make possible a cultivation of comparable assemblages - real and virtual Harbins - both of which might lead to flourishing, as a discourse, in the ongoing examination of how caring for the self functions.

To further this problematization, and in conclusion, if one constructed a virtual Harbin using OpenSim (open access virtual world software that uses the Second Life library of resources), how would care of the self 'function,' in terms of askesis. What new information technology discourse emerges?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Beautiful Weather: Loving Bliss Explorations

Loving Bliss Explorations

Seeking Loving Bliss 'Chamber Music' Musicians, Improvisers and Composers :)
for the next many decades

For a Creative Exploration of Qualities of Loving Bliss

Naturally and Neurophysiologically

Contact - scott@scottmacleod.com

Loving Bliss as Musical Explorations

for practicing loving bliss
vis-à-vis practicing a musical instrument