Friday, September 28, 2007

Robert Minichiello, 28 April 1942 - 26 September 2007

Robert on Angel Island (early 1970s):

You would never hope to meet a greater devotee of the music of Mahler than Robert Minichiello. If you named a Mahler symphony he could whistle its themes! Tonight I was at the San Francisco Symphony with Paul Harmon to hear Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, with baritone Thomas Hampton and tenor Stuart Skelton (a performance being recorded for release on CD). I believe that Robert wanted everything in life to be orchestrated, and so it was highly appropriate to attend this performance on the evening of the day following his death. I had expected that this would be a great opportunity to have a good cry, but looking at that magnificent singer, Thomas Hampton (from my own county in Indiana) I could only see Robert’s eyes. I was still in his hospital room trying to read what those eyes were trying to say after he could no longer speak. The Song of the Earth ends

‘I stand here and await my friend;
I await his last farewell.
Oh, my friend, I long to enjoy
this evening’s beauty at your side.
Where are you? You are leaving me alone so long!
I wander back and forth with my llte
along paths covered with soft grass.
Oh beauty! Oh world, drunk with love and life forever!’
He dismounted and offered him the drink
of farewell. He asked him where
he was heading, and also why he had to go.
He spoke, and his voice was soft with tears:
‘My friend,
fortune was not kind to me in this world.
Where am I going? I go to travel in the mountains.
I see peace for my lonely heart.
I’ll turn toward home, where I belong.
I will never stray far.
My heart is calm and awaits its hour.
Everywhere, the beloved earth
blooms in the spring and
is newly green! Everywhere and forever
the distances are blue and bright!

View from Robert's room at Marin General Hospital:

Everyone who knew Robert – friend and relative – knew that he could be sweet and kind, or he could be a difficult case. I tend to summarize his troubled and troublesome side as “passive-aggressive co-dependent”: If he came for a visit, you waited to hear him say, “Couldn’t I just move in here and stay with you?” Or, “I am going somewhere, may I store all my possessions with you for a while?” “I’ve moved out of my apartment, the neighbors are too awful; I am at the corner of Haight and Masonic with all my stuff – Can you come pick me up?”

I suppose, before giving up trying to understand, most of us at some point asked, “How are you surviving? What do you live on? When are you going to settle some place and stick to one purpose?” and I think he simply felt that none of us knew how to be free, and that we did not understand his struggles when it came to architecture (“fortune was not kind to me in this world”). Robert, 1969, UBC Project:

I saw a T-shirt once inscribed with “Everybody’s crazy,” and I agree with that. We all have our foibles, and that’s that. So when his sister Judy was asking for feedback for her to use to write an obituary, I tried to capture the facts about him as I knew them. I wondered if I wasn’t going over the top in giving a positive spin on them, but I ended up believing in that spin, and thought for now, all thing past and forgiven, I would not be modern and add one honest person’s remark, perfectly true: “Robert was a pain in the ass.”

What I wrote for his sister Judith Montes and his friend Zoe Borkowski is much too long for a newspaper obituary, but there is no reason I cannot print it on my blog:

“All the great scholars are not in universities; some, like recently deceased Robert Minichiello (28 April 1942 – 26 September 2007) are faithful to the kind of passionate search in the service of hard-earned principles that cannot be compromised and that institutions inhibit. Of his two loves, painting provided solace while architecture tormented as professional architecture firms, which are businesses in a mercantile society, fail to execute the works of visionary architects. Robert, to preserve the audacity and originality of his vision, had to follow a solitary path. Like one of the architects he admired, Erich Mendelsohn (creator of the “unorthodox” Einstein Tower, constructed to meet the particular needs of a particular astronomer) who designed curved and organic structures long before their current general accepance, Robert designed buildings to satisfy specific needs, yet saw no reason why they should not be imaginative and delightful. He often took it upon himself to design an urban project that surprised city officials rejected, but, awakened to a site, later had some simpler, less imaginative plans drawn up by the large firms that corporations favor over visionary innovators. (Many of Mendelsohn’s buildings, too, remain visions on paper.) Robert has been one of the many international architecture students who, in their twenties, served a summer internship learning by helping architect, Paolo Soleri, to construct his experimental town, Arcosanti, in the Arizona desert, in accordance with his concept, "archology"--the fusion of architecture with ecology, demonstrating ways that urban conditions can be improved while minimizing destructive impact on the earth.

“Before our age of restoration of older buildings for the preservation of architectural heritage, in a period when developers were trashing San Francisco Victorians and more monumental buildings, Robert dubbed himself “the rubbler,” saving fragments that provide glimpses of the beautiful architecture destroyed. Meanwhile Robert, the wandering scholar, energized and educated others with an overflowing stream of fresh cultural information, a stimulus his friends will greatly miss. Asked by the daughter of Bay Area architect, Stafford Jory, to archive her father’s work, Robert wove Jory’s work into a treatise on California architecture which he presented before the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, with a public exhibit of Jory’s drawings in the Rare Books Room of the San Francisco Public Library. Besides his many sketches of buildings, animals, and people, and his architectural plans, Robert Minichiello’s heritage is spread through the minds of everyone who ever knew him and were led into a deeper experience of life and a more profound understanding of art. He made beauty an everyday gift, along with the laughter induced by his whimsical nature.

“Robert (Roberto Antonio Paolo) Minichiello – who sometimes used a professional name of Brad Mitchell – was the son of George Minichiello and Angelina (“Chulie”) Repici Minichiello of Boston. He is survived by brothers George (and spouse Ellen) and John (and Kim), and sister Judith Montes (and Dan Montes); 4 surviving uncles and 4 surviving aunts; 6 nieces, 4 nephews, 3 great nieces, 8 great nephews, and many cousins. He will be remembered with love by his many friends, including Linda Beaumont, Zoe Borkowski, Joan Chapman, Sherrill Cheda and her sons Andrew and Marc Perry, Jim Eilers, Charles Perrier, and Dr. Lynne Portnoy.”

Robert in one of his favorite spots, the Mill Valley Library:

View from Robert's Window, Dawn, 26 September 2007:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About Robert Minichiello

Robert Minichiello (who is currently in hospital) in October 1972:

Throughout this entry, you will find aspects of the building Robert envisioned for the site now occupied by Davies Symphony Hall.

It is too bad that reality does not melt and give way to great dreams. If great visions held sway, instead of the winning entry for the renovation of San Francisco’s Union Square being an expanse of concrete where a human feels like an egg frying on a grill, we would have enjoyed Robert’s Union Square. Truth would have entered the Square as Robert’s plans amended the meaning of the Dewey monument at the center of the square. In May, 1898, the U.S. Navy under Admiral George Dewey attacked the Spanish Navy in Manila Bay in the Spanish colony of the Philippines, and the Filipino forces, convinced by General Emilio Aguinaldo that liberation was at hand, attacked by land, which resulted in Spanish surrender. After the demoralized Spanish forces were routed from all provinces, Emilio Aguinaldo, from the balcony of his house in Cavite, proclaimed the independence of the Philippines on 12 June 1898. Aguinaldo was elected first President of the Phillipines by the Filipino people, but the United States refused to recognize Filipino independence, and took over the country. Admiral Dewey received instructions to distance himself from Aguinaldo and his independence cause.

Robert’s attractive plans for the Square balanced the tall pillar of the conquering hero Dewey with four glass pylons inscribed in English and Tagalog with quotations of Filipino patriots during their struggle for independence from the Spanish AND the USAmericans.

Here is the quote from A. Bonifacio: “The nobility of a man does not consist in being a king, nor in the highness of the nose and the whiteness of the skin, or in being a priest representing God, nor in the exalted position on this earth, -- but pure and truly noble is he who, though born in the woods, is possessed of an upright character; who is true to his words; who has dignity and honor; who does not oppress and does not help those who oppress; who knows how to look after and love the land of his birth.”

Having first met Charles Perrier’s old teenage friend from Boston, Robert Minichiello, in the early 1960s, there has been enough history to make it impossible to “sum up” Robert. The first or second night I met Robert we were walking around in North Beach, and I don’t know what I sensed in him that made me say, “You’re thinking of suicide, aren’t you?” It was obvious from his shocked “How did you know that?!” that I had guess right.

He and Charles became apartment mates (I joined them sometime later), and one night Robert called me where I was staying and said that he had dropped acid and asked if I would come over. Later he told me that when he took the acid he was imagining that he was committing suicide and so that made it a very bad trip, things crawling out of the walls, etc. I had not tried acid yet and so I didn’t know what he was experiencing or I might not have thought that reading the ecstatic poetry of William Blake would help, but I guess just having someone there helped him get through the bad trip.

I don’t mean to make a theme of “suicide,” and when you know someone that long, the number or kind of stories is apt to spill out in one direction or another. There were the evenings of his big spaghetti dinners, selections from the choice collection of classical music records that he preserved, cleaning the disks so that I doubt if there are any scratches on them even after all these years.

There was the time when, after I endured a terrifying mugging, he took me to the local swimming pool often until movement through water helped undo my tightened, traumatized body (and then I could also play the role of a drowning man so he could practice the training he had learned for saving drowning people).

But, except for a time in the 1960s, Robert came and went, never quite attached, seldom in the Bay Area for a great length of time before moving on, and he was always unhappy about not finding a place for his visionary architecture while never able to be part of the kind of cohort that makes it possible to realize such private and personal dreams. Perhaps that is why he seemed half self-deprecating clown; half angry, stubborn intellectual. But a Summing Up, including that one, is not possible. The notion of a Summing Up is unnatural and comes too soon, and yet we are trapped into a premature Summing Up.

At some point, long ago, as he bounded back and forth among certain cities, I made a foolish effort to guess what was going on with him and tried to give advice in a verse:

For a Friend Departing for Seattle

Well, I must speak of your coyote loneliness
who could be such a happy farmyard dog;
who fears barbarians because he bears their curse.
This curse you well might lay aside.
It is the last of all those foolish lessons
Kith and Klan impart til Kith and Klan
do melt away in universal heart.
Then all coyotes be and, crippled so, be
whole again as only aliens stumble on
the earth as something new and so discover
human selves which never any animal pack
could bring their children to.
Lay off the chain that, link by link,
leads us ever toward the blind Wolf who howls
in the blind passageways of Hell.
Ah, let it mourn, and go your own way.
Some never see the light of universal Day.
Not that I do – I only know a certain way not
to go is awkwardly in sorrow for your birth.
Each thing bears in itself its universal Right.
Its birth has sealed the lips of death
and muzzles the vengeful Wolf if we but blink.

I am trying to tell you, I am trying to tell me:
practice makes perfect, but playing beats them all.
Love is yours now, and it comes
from the future like a great snowfall,
and then a smile, surprise, and nothing past.
Only your willingness for a future,
free-falling in your grace, can turn the key
in Seattle in the door where love sits,
smiling, in a chair. It’s just desserts
to be a human (and that means loved).
The Blessings of the AllWay Go With You.

– James McColley Eilers, copyright 2007

In one of the more mellow periods, in San Francisco, he was a welcome destination:

Hot Sunday, April 14, 1985, San Francisco
(This has a second column, like a marginalia, that won't print as such on this blog, and so I have capitalized words from the lefthand column, and put lines from the second column in parentheses.)

(A haiku (or senryu) writes itself)
(as I set out, walking)
(through the Mission District.)

(The industrial neighborhood I)
(pass through evokes memories of)
(childhood among the Indiana)
(country poor.)

(Song of the Clerical Worker – )
(energy-draining Monday-through- )
(Friday never far out of mind.)

(After arriving at)
(Robert Minichiello’s)
(flat, respite and friendship.)

– James McColley Eilers, copyright 2007

Robert in 2007, just before his hospitalization…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Impeach at the Beach

15 September 2007. People on Crissy Field in San Francisco beginning to gather to create with their bodies the words IMPEACH! morphing into REASON morphing into TREASON.....

...while more powerful demonstrations were happening in Washington, D.C. The three times the IMPEACH event has occurred in the "backyard" of Nancy Pelosi,who made the mistake early of saying "Impeachment is off the books," can be seen at Here are rough photos of the photos taken at those events by John Montgomery and David B. Page:

Among the first to arrive...

Code Pink activists were to create the letter C...

Abbreviating my message urging impeachment, and providing the addresses where you might send them:

Why press for impeachment of Cheney and Bush? (1) The hearings will help educate the public about the actions of the Bush administration; (2) the legislative branch will regain its constitutional powers; (3) future presidents will not inherit the dictatorial powers assumed by the current president. Recommend the hearings to The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, 235 Cannon HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515 and The Honorable John Conyers Jr., 2426 Rayburn HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515. Recommend that all representatives and senators be given a copy of the soon to be released DVD of the documentary, NO END IN SIGHT, and a video of the Bill Moyers program featuring irrefutable reasons to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Brave Hoosier

So many stories like this one....The thousands of military personnel resisting service in Iraq, going to Canada, etc., and organized against the war. When the soldiers refuse to be used in that war, that war will end. And then, just as people objected to the in-your-face tactics of Act-Up which finally brought funding for AIDS patients, Code Pink is fighting the fight that all U.S.Americans should be fighting. It is a good sign that those on the side of death are cursing those on the side of life. I hope Code Pink and MoveOn.Org know that personal insults from President Bush are a great sign of progress. As Roger Alvarez said once, "If enough of us little fleas bite the dog, the dog will get up and move." Not that "the little fleas" are not the true American heroes. Here's a little portrait of one of them, discovered on the website of a war resistance group in Indiana - a real hero, someone who understands what "democracy" is supposed to be (perhaps the following would have to be copied and pasted to your search engine):

Monday, September 10, 2007

Impeach Bush and Cheney?

The House and the Senate have made it very difficult to access them -- No more lists of their email addresses, but you might explore ways to contact them, especially Representatives Pelosi and Conyers (who has said he would introduce impeachment hearings if Pelosi won't). I have come up with this wording. Let me know if you would word it differently:
(1) Even if a vote approving impeachment does not occur, the hearings will help educate a public that often avoids information about the reprehensible actions of the Bush administration; (2) Without an effort to impeach, the legislative branch will have relinquished its constitutional powers, and future presidents will inherit the dictatorial role assumed by the current president. Without impeachment, there is no more democracy. Journalist Bill Moyers is generally considered a man of great awareness and integrity. I must hope that every elected official, especially at the national level, will have seen the documentary, NO END IN SIGHT, and will have read a transcript or seen the video of the Bill Moyers program featuring irrefutable reasons to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Early Works of My Falling Friend, Robert Minichiello

I have so much of Robert Minichiello around my house -- and I imagine I have a lot in storage or in unopened boxes in my closets that I won't see again until the next time I move. I especially remember some sketches he made of animals that I loved. Appropriate that he is currently reading NATURE'S ENGRAVER: A LIFE OF THOMAS BEWICK by Jenny Uglow.

Fort Funston:

The American War in Vietnam:

Details of The American War in Vietnam:

A sketch of Chartres Cathedral from an unconventional point of view:

Would that Robert had been as happy his entire life as he was when he returned from his scholarship in Italy, and travel in Europe, and showed us his many drawings. I think he said this church was associated with the John who wrote the Apocalypse of the Christian Bible:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our Lady of....

And click on the image below if you want to see larger:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Photos of Athletes

Among photos of special athletes in an exhibit in the gallery on the lower level of the San Francisco Main Library...

Junquan He, China, Swimmer:

Peter Hull, Great Britain, Swimmer:

My American Cap

Today I found this cap on the street. I have washed it. I cannot fix it yet as I am short on protest buttons at the moment. I want to find a way to add what I saw on a bumper sticker: "These colors do not run...the world." But look at the terribly ironic label inside the cap.

I came across my old copy of MARK TWAIN ON THE DAMNED HUMAN RACE, edited by Janet Smith. In this collection, he is the Michael Moore of his day, anger over U.S. actions turning slapstick humor to irony. Lynching was still very common in Mark Twain’s time, and the word “lynching” is hardly adequate to describe how those people were slowly tortured, mutilated, burned, hanged for the amusement of a crowd. I hope no U.S. citizen has been spared the horrific photographs documenting these crimes, with the grinning faces of white people who have gathered as if for a picnic.

The deadly “conformity” of U.S. citizens is a major theme with Twain, and all he says about it remains true today. I guess finding that theme in Twain is why at some point I inserted into the Twain book this paragraph torn out of a NYRofBooks article: “Following Kruschchev’s denunciation of Stalin at the XXth Congress of the CP-USSR, a voice from the back of the hall broke the silence: ‘You knew what was happening: Why didn’t you protest?’ Krushchev: ‘Who asked that question?’ Prolonged silence. Krushchev: ‘That’s the way it was with us.’”

Similarly, Twain argues that beyond a “mere atrocious hunger to look upon human suffering,” many in those lynching mobs were there because they were “afraid of his neighbor’s disapproval..afraid to stay home,” which would reveal that their racism was not as fervent as the community’s. “When I was a boy I saw a brave gentleman deride and insult a mob and drive it away.” Similarly, the My Lai massacre was cut short when some soldier in a helicopter saw what was happening, landed, and brought to a halt (much too late) the blind conformity of the soldiers following a homicidal officer’s orders. And that must be why I found, folded up in the book the now-yellowed page from the San Francisco Chronicle, Saturday, November 29, 1969.

On one side of the paper are photos, “Earthrise on the Moon,” one photo showing that moment, another showing Apollo 12 astronauts walking on the moon; beside that, a story, “Astronauts Arrive in Honolulu,” along with other items that have gained in meaning since that time. Among the items on the other side of that sheet of newspaper was a story, with a graph, “U.S. Casualities [in Vietnam] Pass 300,000" and “Saigon Force Ambushed in Delta – Heavy Loss;” and then, the reason I must have inserted the paper into the book at the time, “Massacres by the Army,” because one of the selections of Twain’s writings in the book was an account of the massacre of Moros in the Phillipines that exactly duplicated My Lai: men, women, and children all massacred in a pit, a crater, fifty feet deep.

The article began, “On a chill, sun-drenched December morning in 1890, troopers of the United States Army’s Seventh Cavalry surrounded a large band of Sioux Indians near the Badlands of South Dakota….Within a few tumultuous hours, nearly 300 Indians – men, women. and children – had been shot and killed.” In the same language used to justify the Marine rapes and murders in Iraq, the massacre was explained: “The butchery was the work of infuriated soldiers whose comrades had just cause or warning.”

”The massacre on the prairie at Wounded Knee, S.D., was the first of two noteworthy massacres – before the alleged [still “alleged” at that date] Song My incident – involving the shooting of men, women and children by soldiers of the United States Army. The second massacre occurred on Jolo Island in the Philippines in 1896.” The Moros were still resisting U.S. domination six years after Filipino General Aguinaldo had announced that he was accepting “the sovereignty of the United States throughout the Philippine Archipelago.” While the Sioux, under a white flag, were giving up their weapons, one, faced with such a “sovereignty,” changed his mind and decided to use his weapon, triggering the soldiers’ panic.

General Wood was present when not a single one of the men, women, and children among the 600 Moros, weapons limited to knives and clubs, survived as the Army fired down into the crater. Twain quotes President Theodore Roosevelt’s telegram to the general: “I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag.”


When I was in the first grade, in the era when Roosevelt was president, schools were very special places, and teachers were esteemed as highly as priests and ministers. Our nation had not yet been "privatized." Parents and children came together for programs that represented the community around the school, not just the process of education. It was World War II, and we would sing rousing tunes like "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" or "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli"--I did not know what the songs described, I only knew that they were very singable and everyone sang them loud and strong. We were not required to mention God when we said the Pledge of Allegiance of the Flag, but I remember how good it felt to hold a hand over my heart while looking at the pretty American flag. It had stars on it! The horizontal stripes, when rippled by the wind, made an impression of water. It was not much different from the feeling you had when you said a prayer while looking at the gentle Mother of God, offering to you the palms of her hands as if invisible rays of mercy and kindness radiated toward you.

The religion evaporated from my life, and, as for patriotism, it puzzles me. I see people who are happy to rise and sing the Star Spangled Banner, hand over heart, and I wonder how they can forget how far we have fallen from being a compassionate and just society. I want much more. I don't want such an easy love.

Until a global identity becomes paramount, is patriotism just an echo of religious belief? How can I enjoy a feeling like patriotism when it is more often exemplified by a blind chauvinism or in the mindless fantasy of individual heroism in absurd and sick films like INDEPENDENCE DAY, where two American men can save the world from all danger? The nature of the overwhelming mass force of patriotism in the U.S. seems no different from the swelled-up hysteria of sports fans: Is that a safe or sane state in which to consider the country's decisions and actions?

I know that the consequence of giving up the group identities associated with religion and patriotism is that one must live with the reality of death, but that reality was always with me anyway, nagging me with the truth from an early age, as belief in God and country weakened and finally gave way. I still think the American flag is pretty, but find it limiting--There are so many different colors that would look beautiful waving on the air.

I know some of the things that have made the U.S.A. the hope of many around the earth, but I am not certain that I see self-aggrandizing self-love as being part of that hope.

The destruction of the World Trade Center ... Survivors and the relatives of survivors asked that their grief not be used as an excuse of war. But for the country as a whole, this horrendous tragedy triggered a mindless jingoism on such a scale that Americans, never questioning those they endow with Authority, wholeheartedly backed a military action that they erroneously believed to be connected with the World Trade Center destruction and, in their fervent patriotism, they were not willing to be disabused by the facts -- proof, it would seem, that patriotism is dangerous and untrustworthy. The American Way of Reaction has been scripted a thousand times in their favorite violent fantasy world, in the revenge films of Bronson, Schwarzenegger, etc.: Kill the hero’s wife in the first scene, and set the terminator in motion. It’s the “justified killing” that permits the audience to feeds on homocide -- oops, I mean homicide.

I confess that as I watched the towers fall what flashed through my mind, unbidden, because of that initial sense of unreality (“This can’t be happening”) were images from Godzilla films, The War of the Worlds, etc. – cities destroyed by special effects -- and then, again unbidden thoughts, it was as if the two towers bore two names as they descended into dust: Hiroshima and Nagasaki,

followed by a ledger sheet of U.S. crimes against humanity, the overthrow of democratically elected governments, the arrogant notions of Empire that alienate everyone. Then grief became general as one must consider how the self-interest of all earth’s countries reinforce the divisions of nationality and religions, leading to horrific tragedies on all sides yet all stubbornly hold to those toxic identities And then one learned of the individual lives lost in the catastrophe.

I understand the initial reaction of anger, the fear of what may be coming next, especially felt by those on East Coast with its great control over national attitudes. If someone tries to destroy you because of a certain identity, you are going to defend that identity. I suppose part of the reason patriotism did not take with me is that I have lived a long life and, as a gay person, most of that life I was told that I was not part of America – more than that, not part of living existence. I was, in an emotional sense, a spy, waiting for some one, any one, to see that I existed, while trying to evade being brutalized or murderered.
I guess those who are fervent Americans have always experienced being American as something that nurtured them, whereas I had to live in fear of Americans. How could I identify with those who hated and excluded me? It is probably too late for me to live my life in any way other than that of an outsider. I am not unhappy, however, that it frees me to identify with those from other nations and with something beyond nations.

I wish the flag represented the people I know who are involved with people to people good works around the globe, separate from the anger, arrogance, paranoia, and us-versus-them mentality of the patriots who proclaim patriotism loudly. Reasons why I am not a "good American": (1) I am a nontheist and wish all religions would disappear (with the good works some of them perform surviving the disappearance of God and afterlife). It would be great if they could retain their community solidarity without the mythology. (2) I don't believe in an American Empire that should take over the world any more than I would believe in any other totalitarian movement. (3) I believe in very un-American traits that are the opposite of arrogance, cynicism, and aggression. (Jokingly, I tell friends that I wish the American mascot were not the eagle, but the oyster). (4) I believe in self-examining doubt and a lifelong quest for as much knowledge and awareness as we can achieve – difficult when so many sources of information are controlled by government or corporations.

Like most people before they mature and become this wised-up creature, the human being, Americans want something unchangeable and eternal to believe in that would excuse them from ever having to think again, whereas life and our definition of reality is ever changing. The new pope had in mind specifically the recently deceased American philosopher, Richard Rorty, when he spoke of the “tyranny of relativism”—“tyranny” is an odd word to be used by the head of one of those systems that have the most tyrannical hold on the human mind. The learned talent, like riding a unicycle, of living in a universe where everything is literally relative and ever-changing is what humans need to be taught in order to be sane and never duped by false leaders who want them to believe that all the answers they will ever need are in The Book. Oddly enough, if they were to study the New Testament (recognizing that it is a confused and disjointed manuscript) and really understood the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, they would know that it is not in the static “law” of things, but in a developed “sense” of everchanging reality that we will find our only reliable guide (which is not to say that one may escape the inherent "law" that teaches us that we must live with the consequences of our actions).

I would love to love the American flag the way I did when I was six years old, but it is obvious that not being able to love the American flag really signifies that I am not able to love the American people as I detect from the way they vote how materialistic, "privatized," mean-spirited, and cold-hearted so many Americans have become. The Americans I love have identities much larger than "the U.S.A." The other Americans scare me.

I wish I myself could have what most of us may long for—because of eternal feelings of insecurity and because of our fear of death—something eternal and unchangeable that we could sway our way through prayer or flatter through election—but we have something better, the everchanging flow, which no-one may seize by storm or conquer with weapons, but, paradoxically, may receive quietly with simple acceptance, and turn to the joyful business of loving the earth and all eartheans.