Introduction

I was the engineer, sitting in the cab of a freight train locomotive, stopped by a red signal. There was nothing to do till the signal changed, so I took out a book and started reading. When the conductor, sitting on the other side of the cab, asked me what the book was about, I told him it was about how the brain works, to which he replied, “Your brain is like the telephone: you don’t need to know how it works to use it.”

I am no scientist--I only have a vague idea what an amygdala is--but I am a science-oriented layperson, and another story will illustrate why I think it’s important to know, at least in general, the nature of the apparatus that we live in:

When he was a young teenager, a friend of mine, Terry Lewis, was at the movies with his girlfriend, and he jokingly put on her glasses. When he looked at the screen he was dumbstruck: so that’s why people go to movies! He had never known till then that he was nearsighted, and that he was missing what most other people took for granted.

We are all in the position of my young friend in a sense: we can’t be sure if we are seeing the world as it is, or some version of it that is drastically limited by deficiencies in our organs of perception. Is the world really what it seems to be? Am I the person that I think I am? I live in the vague apprehension that I may one day discover that everything I think I know is severely distorted.

So that is my primary concern: to understand the nature of reality as it relates to my perception of myself. Most of what is available here to be read or listened to is about my attempts to untie that Gordian knot, but that’s not my only concern:

A friend of mine once said to me, “You’re not so complicated: you just want to have fun.” That’s true, despite all my heady peregrinations. My favorite ways of having fun these days involve photographs, 3D animation, video, and music, some examples of which you will find here in abundance, but I enjoy many other things that haven’t yet made their way to cyberspace. I can’t seem to do everything I want to at once, so things are strung out in time. Someday...

Meanwhile, The Journal has become a book: High School Zen.