Poetry Prose and Other Words

by Ken Ingham

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Blog 1976

January, 1976
I’ve been reading about Zen, most recently in a book given to me by Frank and Donna Shavlik entitled The Zen of Seeing by Frederick Frank. The author makes a distinction between looking and seeing. According to him we are looking more and more (through lenses, telescopes and television tubes) but seeing less and less. We attach labels to things and thereafter recognize everything but see nothing. It seems that it is bad to use labels because labels obscure the truth. Zen is about being able to marvel over the things around us through direct observation. We marvel over the intricate pattern of a leaf, etc.

I am a scientist. You cannot study science without learning the labels. Yet, science provides another way of marveling over the beauty around us. Science discloses new and beautiful relationships. Seeing through science does not limit us to the 10,000 things. In science we find esthetic patterns whose presence can’t be grasped by ordinary “Seeing”. Science extends the dimensions of our perception in time and space. We learn to marvel over the beauty of a microscopic world whose very existence was beyond the technical reach of all but the most recent of humans. A molecular world of charged particles whose position in time and space can only be described by probability distribution functions whose complexity eludes all but the most learned physicists, or a cosmic world that extends beyond the reach of the most powerful telescopes. As one probes further into these new dimensions of awareness, one must specialize in order to grasp and fully appreciate the beauty of another world. Specialization comes at a price. In the process of learning everything about something, one learns nothing of everything else. That sounds like a Zen paradox. But, I ask, is one way better than the other? Does not the promotion of the direct world at the expense of the conceptual world represent a value judgment, a “choosing” which itself embodies a conceptual label?

The subtitle of the above mentioned book is Seeing/Drawing as meditation. It is filled with pleasant sketches. I was inspired to draw something. I decided to sketch my own fist. I surprised myself. The secret is to go slowly.

(insert image of fist here or link to image file)

Feb 28, 1976
Love of Life With Big L’s
Ex-president Richard Nixon in his recent trip to Peking said in a toast “There cannot and will not be lasting peace until every nation in the world respects the security and independence of every other nation, large or small."

What he fails to recognize is that such conditions can only exist when all nations come under one government, such as the U.N. The United States stands as the leader among those “free” nations who seemingly believe that this is impossible, if not undesirable or even evil. Our socioeconomic system could not survive in such conditions. With whom would we compete? With whom would we grapple on the grid-irons of economics? In short, there would be nobody to exploit, no resources to disproportionately consume, no “capital” to invest in an enterprise whose purpose is to “get ahead”.

Therefore we spend hundreds of billions of dollars, invest uncountable man-hours in tedious unfulfilling and, most importantly, unnecessary activities. How much of this activity could be spent more enjoyably in a world where all nations were one? A “world without borders” where resources were consumed at a more rational clip, where products were made to last, and where national defense was a memory from a high school history class, where 50% of “productive” activity was devoted to projects to make the world a better place to get high in!

Cynics say that while such an ideal world would be nice it will never occur because people are too heterogeneous, other excuses for war will emerge, the “bad guys” will always be around to give the “good guys” a hard time. Others believe something else, something which places a higher hope in the basic ability of human beings to cooperate, to compromise, to sacrifice self-want for societal want, i.e., to love. Communists and Capitalists differ on their basic concept of human nature and potential, on the capacity for human Love. Love of Life, with big L’s. Love and respect for all living creatures, for all of nature. We must fashion a new global constitution that embodies the rights of nature. We must control our population to make room for nature, just as we must make room for cultural variety among our own species. We must not let the media trap us in a vortex which leads to cultural homogenization . Here is the challenge: how can we have one modern world without borders and still preserve cultural variety? Are nations a necessary prerequisite for cultural variety?

March 11, 1976
There are few things in life more beautiful than taking a shower. It is a shame our culture doesn’t encourage sharing this experience with each other.

Mar 27, 1976
We learned how to make the bed squeak just about the time that the kids got big enough to ask questions.

May 1976, Myrtle Beach

Sign at entrance to gated vacation community, embellished to show implied meaning:


(Rich people only beyond this point.
All others turn around and
go back to work,
so we can get richer)



We ate at Lum's today
    where all the dishes
    get thrown away
The food is served
    on a plastic tray
The silverware comes
    in a sterile paper bag
Teenagers wipe the table
    with a wet rag
They don't serve vegetables
    or anything nutritious
But the cokes and the french fries
    sure look delicious!

Redwoods are the highest form of life.

June 20, 1976

What the world needs is an epidemic of idealism.

Oct 20, 1976

If its the right thing to do it will be easy.

There is only one right thing to do and it will be as easy as the decision to do it. If you agonize over a decision, it is because you have doubts. “All of you" doesn’t agree on the issue. These doubts don’t disappear upon making a decision, but continue to present themselves for further evaluation. Who is being chagrined if the doubts don’t materialize?

Science is a religion. It is a way of life. It is a view of the world, of reality. Like other religions, those running the show are not always the most religious.

To tell the truth I know that I’ve been lied to heretofore...

We, the enlightened ones
thanking our lucky stars
that we live in the modern era
and not in the ignorance of the past.
Just a little bit further . . . .
Then we can liberate ourselves
and see the folly of our enlightenment
We are where we are
because of our dismissal of past "truths"
We can’t quite grasp where we might be
if we could only dismiss the present “truths”

All of us need something we can’t get where we are,
yet most of us have something right here we could never do without.

Thanksgiving, 1976

         Slaughter Beach

We all walked
on the beach after dinner
The wind was blowing hard
We threw rocks
and found some stuff
to take back for Frank's yard
Glenda went and Donna too
little Kristen ran nearby
while Kenny observed the geese
and gulls and others in the sky
Alison found a turtle shell
and a smooth stick
washed up from the brine
Donna found a horseshoe crab
and Glenda found peace of mind


Sign on board fence:

"Smoke dope; catch a glimpse of the truth"

(about yourself?)