When I was in Seattle I saw a book and on the cover was a hyper-reflective asterisk. A fresnel footnote. An interference-patterened maybe in the middle of a life currently defined as mine. Read the subtitles. Everything is under the skin.

The woman I was with saw me standing there looking. Elliott Bay Bookstore. Wooden stacks holding tomes of the recently published. Raincoated patrons milling between glossy headshots of this writer or that, looking literary in Ansel Adams tones. Writing a book turns you black and white, apparently.

I would like to say the latte' in my hand was steaming into the gray Seattle cloak called weather, but it had gone lukewarm by then. My eyes, bleary from the sleep I pretend in hotel rooms, I could barely read the titles but at least I wasn't alone. A day to kill, kill with me I asked her without asking. Do you like books was what she wanted to know in the killing.

Do I like books? Do cows like the pope?

What? Bears, I mean bears. Wait, what are you saying? Ok I'll meet you at Elliott Bay, is what I'm trying. Where's that? Do I need a plane? Oh, you're not from here. Feet you need feet. I have those. Because it's just up the road from where you're staying. Nine o'clock. Ok I'll be there.

A latte at the Starbucks on the corner. Home of Starbucks. Hey, here you are, you found it. Yes. It was close like you said. So, cool. Go browse I'm going to go up there. Looking for something. Ok, I'll be here.

I'm right here.

The titles, the author's names came unglued from the paper and floated airborne, dust waiting for the sunbeam. Everything in the air. She has this Nordic energy that makes me imagine her riding reindeer for some reason. Then her hand crossing my visual plane. Here I am. Underwater and she's dived in.

I'll buy it for you, she said without saying, taking the asterisk from the rack in front of my eyes, leafing through. Stared at the architectural photograph of the author. A present. I have to give you something. Why? I don't deserve anything. Yes you do. I say you do, so you do.

I told her I didn't even know what it was about, but it didn't matter. She smiled and put the refractive asterisk on the book in her hand. Isabelle Allende. Ever read her? No, I hadn't. Not at all.

Short love stories. You really should. You'd like them. They're like poems. Meant to be read to you. Maybe we'll go for lunch at my favorite place and I'll read you one.

Okay, what will that mean I don't say we start reading each other love stories I don't say maybe we should go to the music museum I don't say maybe. Or yes.

Blink. You've become my asterisk.


What do you think it's about? I don't know, but it sounds interesting. After you're done send it to me. Ok. But how will I get it to you? How will I find you? You're all over the place. You don't live anywhere. Don't worry. You will. When I need you to, you'll find me I know you will. You know how.

How do you know?


I just do.


There are two books and two movies I've just consumed. This book is called "Blink". That book is called "A General Theory of Love".

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink. Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard Lannon (all M.D.s) A General Theory of Love.

Kinsey: Liam Nesson, Laura Linney,etc. Code 46 Tim Robbins, Samantha Morton, yadda.

These four things are the same to me. It's all about how your intuition is oh so right and oh so wrong. How love comes from nowhere that lives in your limbic brain. It's not cerebral. The logical cortex doesn't fathom love. The reptilian brain is a biologic automaton. The simple state machine that runs the heart and lungs.

Love comes from the limbic system. It comes from the knowing without knowing.

Kinsey studied sex, which is not love. A point made after 90% of the movie is over. After everyone has had sex with everyone else, and two of Kinsey's assistants are battling it out in the office. Each has had sex with the other's wife, but one opposing pair has gotten too attached.

Kinsey had seen it coming, but was powerless to stop it. The connection between sex and love hadn't happened in his science. Love was too ephemeral. Too fuzzy. Too unscientific.

A General Theory of Love and Blink both put love squarely in the limbic system. The seat of the unconscious.

There's an experiment they both reference. The researchers put in front of the subject two decks of cards. The cards implement a game. The game is this: turn over a card, win or lose money. Each subject is given $2000 in fake money. The objective is to turn over cards until one deck is completely turned over or your play "bank" goes to zero. At that point the game is over.

One deck of cards awards people money in increments of $50. The other, in increments of $100. However, hidden in the deck of $100 cards, are big penalty cards. In the deck of $50 rewards, the penalties are fewer and less severe.

The subjects know nothing about the decks and how they're stacked.

Within the first thirty card turns, all subjects correctly divine the strategy for success is to turn over the cards in the deck that has been awarding them in $50 increments, but they don't know why. They just know it works.

The experimenters do PET scans of the subjects while they're turning over cards. They see a "premptive", anticipatory "wave" of action sweep through the brains of the subjects before they turn over a card. The wave gets stronger and stronger as the "correct" algorithm is determined.

But the subjects have no idea what they're doing or how they're doing it.

In another experiment, people are simply asked to push a button at certain intervals on the clock. Observers watching their PET scans see the "anticipatory" wave sweep through their brains BEFORE the people are cognizant of the need to push the button.

Let me say that again. The neurons in the brain fire before the people "know" they're supposed to push the button. Something in the brain, below the cortex controls this.

Researchers in A General Theory of Love exposed subjects to a seemingly random pattern of graphics and then showed the subject a landscape under different times of day and differing weather patterns. The algorithm (called a "hash") for matching the weather to the pattern was so complex a computer would generally be required to figure it out. Yet after 50 tries, all subjects of all levels of intelligence, age, sex, etc., were capable of determining the weather and time of day with seventy percent accuracy by looking at the complex graphics.

And they had no idea how they were doing it.

This is what we experience as intuition. This is a part of our mind, which has learned something our cortex does not fathom.


Code 46 is a near-future, post-apocalyptic science fiction about a man with remarkable intuition, who falls in love with a woman who is so like him genetically that it is illegal for them to marry.

The operative idea being that through state-sponsored IVF, this woman who is almost 15 years younger than him, has a genetic structure almost identical to his own mother.

And his intuition screams love to him. And her intuition tells him he is the man she has been dreaming of her whole conscious life.

Blink highlights a psychologist who can look at a couple from a distance and predict with 90% accuracy whether they will stay together or separate. Body posture, tone of voice, gesture, these things radiate internal conditions. A General Theory of Love tells us we are predisposed to fall deeply in love with people who fit the patterns of thought burned into our neural networks by years of our own lives. Some of the patterns are genetic. Some are learned.

There is a limbic connection that occurs between two people looking at each other. We can see this on our instruments. Somehow, the midbrain communicates while the cortex goes blind to the transfer. The window directly to the soul drives feelings we have no way to comprehend with our the language that lives on top. No way to explain with the giri of Broca's area. The temporal lobe. All that stuff is down deep where memory lives. The pineal. Glands we can dissect, put into spectrographs and chemically analyze.

What is it doing? The software impact escapes us.

Love is a mental state. It can be broken down and observed with PET scans. Reductio ad absurdum. We are all our molecules and mental states. Sixty years ago, Alfred Kinsey could have told us roughly when we started masturbating, when we first experienced or gave oral sex, what our favorite position was.

But he had no idea, and made no attempt, to connect that activity with love.

No sex no love. Maybe. Asterisk.

Probably because at one level, it doesn't connect. And at another, it always does.

Blink. She can see you across a room. One set of eyes in two thousand, and know it's you. You can see her getting off a plane. The crown of one head bobbing among hundreds. A voice that cuts through the din of aircraft engines.


She tells you that you can put a tape recorder on a grave and hear the voices of the dead. She tells you there are spirits in the woods who told her about you. She tells you she's been dreaming about you since she was ten. That last night, she dreamt you were here. And now you are.

But I can't stay.

It doesn't matter. It hasn't to now and it never will.

Then what?

She shrugs. The world is bigger than me. So much bigger.

Where will you go? How do I find you?

You will. You just do. That's how it works.

My asterisk.

Do you believe me?

2005.05.30 at 21:49 doyle says re May 30, 2005 : life is in the mundane details--the key to happiness is not just knowing this, but believing it--you have a head start as a mick--just having food on the table is a fucking miracle. god bless. the baby is coming in the next 36 hours-a

2005.05.30 at 21:49 doyle says hunch, but a strong one.

Wisdom plus prognostication from the Good Doctor! And how can we argue or doubt him? Well, my wife is hoping that he’s wrong with his prediction at least, since that would most likely make the new baby’s birthday the same as my three year-old son’s, but frankly I could care less, since the two anniversaries are going to be too close for little kid comfort in any case.

I was thinking about what Doyle said while I was meditating today. Of course, that’s a no-no. You’re not supposed to be thinking about anything, really. Then again, you’re not supposed to get distracted by fighting the inevitability of random thoughts either. But hell, it’s that damned-if-you-do-and-don’t essence of Zen that attracted me to it in the first place

I should backtrack a few hours. Heather, Declan and I went to Northwest Folklife at Seattle Center this morning. Our first stop was a stage where some girls were doing Irish dancing (god help me!). Now Declan loves dancing, but he was a little queasy from the bus ride down, so he kinda just sat in his mamma’s lap and watched, rapt. I pulled the stroller over to the side of the stage so I wouldn’t be blocking everyone’s view. In front of me were two toddlers, girl and boy, slightly smaller than my boy, dancing away to the infernal Hibernian strains. The little girl was a gorgeous strawberry blonde delight, clearly a danger to hearts decades hence. And she twirled with delight and abandon. A plain day miracle. My favorite kind.

Then I felt someone touching my shoulder. “Paul? Paul Mullin?” I turned and saw a familiar face, though the woman was at least a decade older than the image in my head. “Kim” was the name that flashed into my head.

“It’s Kim! I knew it was you. Mark said he was sure because of the scar.”

“Of course. Kim. We worked together at My Friend’s Café.” I was starting to put it together. Kim and I shared one of the shittiest restaurant gigs ever, 50¢ over minimum wage plus zero tips, slinging breakfast at Green Lake yuppies in a café run by a grand Canadian git named Wayne.

Then Mark walked into my field of vision. His name flashed into my head much like “Kim” did. He, too, looked a decade past my memory of him. Did Mark work at the café, too? I couldn’t remember.

And then Kim was kind enough to piece it together for me, while not letting on that she knew I was half clueless. The short story is this: Kim hated the café gig even worse than I did. She was desperate for something new, and my then live-in girlfriend, soon-to-be-ex-wife, who was banquet manager down at the Rainier Club, landed Kim a job waitressing down there. Mark was a busboy at the club. Kim met Mark-- I think their first kiss may have even been at one of our notorious parties—and the rest is history, except for Annabelle. Annabelle is the future.

The strawberry dancing miracle that had delighted me to begin with. Kim and Mark’s two-year old daughter. Annabelle.

It really wasn’t that extraordinary an episode at first glance. I’d half-forgotten about it until I was sitting there in zazen, thinking about what Doyle messaged. But let’s break it down for a moment. If it hadn’t been for me, slaving away in the steaming food grime and coffee grit of that café another lifetime ago, then meeting Kim and introducing her to the great failed relationship of my life, then this little wonder wouldn’t be. And it wasn’t anything in particular I did. It wasn’t the power of my words as a playwright, or my sharpened perception or deepened compassion as a Buddhist. No. It was just me, living, struggling connecting to someone else, living, struggling: and, thirteen years later, here’s Annabelle!

Lao Tzu, via Ursula Le Guin’s “version” says: “Live long by looking long.” In Tao years, Doyle’s six-hundred and forty-nine years old. Today I’m exactly one day older than I am.

And Doctor Doyle, if you’re reading this, we’re approximately six and a half hours into your 36 hour window as I type.

There are few remaining places in this world, as the song goes, ‘this planet full of strife’, for people like me. Of all the places I have seen, or visited, none satisfies the specification in my mind of the kind of place I can be comfortable in my own skin in. Except, of course, for my beloved Everything, my one remaining sanctuary- only even this doesn’t count, not being a part of the universe in which I live, but a universe in its own right. This doesn’t seem to make sense- surely, there is a place for everybody in the world, surely, in God’s omniscience, in His scheme of things I have an assigned part? Surely, I am also a cog in the universal machine, surely, there is somewhere for me, somewhere where I fit? Or, can it be that I really have no significance, and therefore have no place in the universe, and truly don’t belong? This is, very much, the impression one receives after seventeen years in my position- indeed, I feel, after reading the beautifully chilling ‘Brave New World’ for the second time, that Huxley kept my spirit locked away in a jar all those yers before my conception and studied it, wrote it into his novel and named it John. And later transferred the rights to Harper Lee, who renamed it Boo. The only people I can truly relate to are fictional characters. That is eye-wateringly sad, but true. Oh, so true. To this world of five-fingered gloves, I contribute nothing but a six-fingered hand. To make things worse for me, God built my soul out of pure love, so I cannot hate, as much as I want to-- I simply cannot hate, I have no choice but to unconditionally love that which has so often rejected me, tossed me aside like a piece of fat clinging to a shoulder of lamb, treated me like a dirty word for seventeen years+, since my conception some time in August 1987 to the present day and beyond. I am what happens when a bull of a man comes home out of the cold and meets his mouse of a wife. I wasn’t planned, I simply was. I love that which has so often rejected me, not by my own volition, but by orders from that Higher Power which put me in this position.
Well, now I am miserable no longer, and feel I can laugh at the absurdity of the previous side of A4 of ranting. It seemed to gradually progress from wondering to despairing. I’m quite done, now.

I just received a very nice /msg from jrn in regards to my homenode and its message regarding nuking my own nodes. I wrote him back a bunch of /msgs, but I have a tendency to ramble so I thuoght I'd toss together a daylog and point him at it.

I wrote the note about nuking my nodes my homenode during one of my more petulant phases, but I don't think of nuking as killing them off, I just moved them to my own private area. I was just a bit irritated with what I saw as the direction of E2 at that time. So, I wanted to protect them, to hold them in my own private area.

I've got no idea what E2 is like anymore, I spend less than half an hour here every week. So, my observations are about an E2 which may not exist anymore.

I found that as I wrote more and more very specific nodes, I felt happier about what I was writing. I could node factual things about a subject that wasn't covered by someone else, I could do research about a subject I enjoyed, and often it was rewarded well with voting. My mistake was that, despite all the warnings, I did not ignore the node's reputation.

It's hard to entirely ignore the reputation of a node. The difference between writing an essay for fun and writing one for E2, or a similar site, is the fact that you're expecting recognition for what you've written. The reputation is a measurement of that recognition, so it's difficult for many people to completely ignore it, due to your motivation in the first place.

I became very frustrated because I would write something I felt that was well researched, relatively free of grammatical and spelling errors, and in general a decent treatment of the subject. Then I would write a piece of fluff or I would dash out a poor treatment of another subject, but a subject that was more popular, and I would see the popular subject node or the fluff node thrive while the one I actually cared about would not.

I spent time thinking about why it bothered me and I came to the conclusion: it really doesn't matter. If I wanted to make a webpage about a subject I cared about, I could just make a webpage about the subject. So, I resigned myself to become a consumer of E2 rather than a writer.

I also went through and nuked my precious little nodes, the ones that I felt that people should just leave alone. You see, nuking isn't the equivalent of killing the nodes. No, nuking a node is just a way of making it private. Now, they're no longer part of the nodegel... they're my private nodes, hanging out in node heaven.

The one thing that I have learned. I have a LiveJournal now, I put a lot of the stuff that would normally go into a daylog. I noticed that as I stayed away from E2, I wrote a lot less of the things that I specialized in writing while I was in E2. I moderately regret that. I also am quite happy to have C! powers back, since I had nuked enough nodes to drop two levels. I had plenty of XP, I just never had the number of nodes.

I – Rest and Ritual are Overrated

Last week our MBA class had a one-week session at the school where we all stayed in a stone building attached to a classroom. The students would stumble into class after staying up all night reading or working on assignments. It was a tough schedule – usually 9 hours a day of lectures. In the end most of us would just sneak off during the 15-minute breaks to our rooms to catch a little nap.

On Tuesday, I had one of the most intellectually overwhelming days of my life. On Wednesday, the man I have been secretly sleeping with was at the front teaching. He is a good professor – well spoken, profound, kind-hearted - a winner. He is tall with these beautiful, active green eyes and a soothing voice. I spent most of the class folded in two – afraid that I would be sick with the mixed emotions. He was perfectly fine but spent no time looking into my eyes while he presented to everyone else.

Late that night, I said goodnight to my friend after we finished reading in the comfortable couches, brushed my teeth and sneaked up the stairs to the professor’s room. He left the door open just a crack for me so it would not lock. I went in and he looked at me hungrily right before we started. He put a pillow in my mouth to muffle the moaning sound. We were together like this for three intense, sweet, happy, nights. I came to class wrecked and tired but I was alert, creative and completed almost all of my readings. He looked tired too – but happy. Rest and ritual are overrated.

On Friday, I picked up my “A” paper and we finished one of the most exciting weeks of my life. At home, I missed my new friends from class already but a bunch of us had a fun club-night in Toronto. The professor came to town on Sunday as well for business. We had an amazing breakfast together at our special restaurant. He asked me to close my eyes and placed an art book in my hand. It was so sweet. It was fun to joke around and be friends – not everything limited to physical and intellectual things. Then we wandered to the bookstore and after saw a movie. I can’t remember the last time I felt so happy.

II – The Modern Slut

On Monday, it was back to reality and routine. I commuted past graffiti on the barriers to highway that said “This is Life?” on the way to my dreary office job. My boss commanded me to do some things in an off-hand manner. I escaped the rut to call the professor – we talked in hushed tones for hours. I felt so happy at first. But… suddenly it all turned around. He said some things that reminded me of what was really going on... They woke me up... Fuck…

His marriage may be comfortable and lonely but… he won’t act to change it. He gets angry at the University administration at times but… he won’t ruin his professional image by dating a student. And… he really really likes the sex.

I came to predictable mistress conclusion – this married man regarded me as a nothing more than a distraction. A recreational woman. I thought we were too smart for the rules. It felt so genuine and true – our minds and our hearts were engaged, not just our bodies. But… it was just the modern-intellectual version of “marry a good girl and have a slut on the side.” The modern mistress can converse thoroughly about economics and art. The modern slut is not just about wild sex - she is also a funny and sympathetic friend.

III – This is Life?

Today I was in a fog. My boss got mad at me for looking at her like she was “so stupid!” She turned red and told me to stop it immediately. I do think she is stupid at times but not as stupid as I am. I believed I could cheat the rules because I thought so much of him and it felt so genuine to me… but it meant little to him.

“Man Uses Woman for Sex”. So common that it is not worthy of a headline… but I could not see it. Tonight, I commuted past the “This is Life?” graffiti on the way home and looked at the cars and highway to answer the question – bland, fast-moving, repetitive, full of strangers – but at least going somewhere… and it is real. So… maybe this is it… not an inspired world as it has felt for the past week… but maybe that is just fine.

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