Digital Conscience

"Lyin', cheatin', hurtin'—that's all you seem to do..."

- Led Zeppelin, Your Time is Gonna Come

"Daddy is he a goodie or a baddie
Daddy can I be a warrior
Once upon a time there were cannibals
Now there are no cannibals any more"

- Mark Knopfler, Cannibals

I started this essay two hours ago, on paper, with four different quotations: The Moody Blues, EJ Pratt, Scott Merrit, Willie P Bennett. It's so easy to touch the subject of conscience!

But what does the digital have to do with conscience?

Well, it's handy to characterize our era as digital, for obvious reasons—pretty well any discussion, inquiry or debate these days can be settled with a quick browse on the net. On the other hand, conscience is universal in human development. If conscience is not currently something we bring to mind on a daily basis—if it’s too often “off”—then the juxtaposition of the digital with conscience may be fruitful, even meaningful!

In The Western Canon, Harold Bloom waxes gloomy over the threat of a pending Theocratic Age in literature (literature is “where cognition, perception, and sensation cannot be wholly disentangled.”1C’est la vie, eh!? If religion helps us stay mindful of our conscience, theocracy may be a method of coping with the usurpation of universal, real conscience by digital conscience. If that makes you wince, be soothed by the wisdom of the Koran: “There is no compulsion in matters of faith.”

It’s time to get ready for lunch—lucky me!

May 12, 2007

Harold Bloom, The Western Canon (Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994), page 441.

- 30 -



The night is of the colour

Of a woman's arm:

Night, the female,


Fragrant and supple,

Conceals herself.

A pool shines,

Like a bracelet

Shaken in a dance.

Excerpt from “Six Significant Landscapes” by Wallace Stevens

A fine snow fell yesterday. A gibbous moon (waxing) is perfectly positioned for eloquent interaction with scudding or hazy clouds just when we’re scuttling home for dinner.

Jeff Warren (The Head Trip) teaches that we dream constantly and speculates the concomitant—we’re also conscious as we dream. “Thus water flows over weeds.”

Are we not created to create and thence to have a constant communal colloquy of consciousness? “Let your conscience be your guide!”

Dawn, November 17, 2007


"I have my books and my poetry to protect me..."

- "I am a Rock", Simon & Garfunkel

Listening to the quiet discussion of the elders sitting in the next room, around the dinner tabletwo married couples, relaxing before bed, keeping company til the last one finishes her bathis calming. Such effortless attention to one another in this shelter from the cold and wet outdoors, such accustomed civility rewards the respectful listener with awareness of the possibility of future peace.

And where does the discussion lead? Laughter, tonight; memories later; a tendency to tolerate when fear threatens, perhaps. In using channelsbody language, a look, a tone, aural magnetismthe channels are deepened, the connections established. See the towers straddling the valley, ask how the first wire was drawn across the gap!

My brain is failing with age: it often takes so long to think of a word as I speak that I have time to remind myself not to fret but instead to be grateful that the words come at all. This is my best excuse for the inordinate amount of time I spend looking for the right version of the song in my head, the song I want to add to the growing list of favourites I put on my YouTube channel. I feel as though I have grown up developing a playlist for my YouTube channel and I have a little time to pick them before I forget them forever.

Jane Jacobs must have had fun writing Dark Age Ahead: nobody would call her, even hershe who was so devastatingly detailed in her reckoningto account for not making her last book longer with more evidence of mass folly, like conspicuous consumption and a naive fondness for the convenient. She'd be preaching to the converted.

"And for all the little piggies, life is getting worse."

Piggies, The Beatles

A good sleep and pre-dawn meditation bring the sweet rejoinder: "Kiss the joy as it flies!" (Nin?)

Ichinomiya, Japan
14, 2010

Awareness and survival

“In the garden of consciousness
in fertile mind there lies the dormant seed.” One Voice, Smith/Daugherty

“Sometimes I wonder about the road I’m on
When I feel like a stranger in my own sweet home
When happiness comes so easy, still I can’t be satisfied
There’s no rest for the wicked
And I feel so tired.” No Rest for the Wicked, Colin Linden

There will come a time when human awareness of the delicacy and preciousness of all life is acknowledged as the basis of all life—of survival, too.

The urgency of our hunger to know the meaning of life increases as more of us accept that our home will not sustain us much longer—we will die off—unless we respect the creative forces in it.

Average global levels of carbon monoxide exceeded four hundred parts per million in May, 2013. It has become realistic to pray for the survival of our species, a novel aspect of our relationships with our creator.

Will you bicker about what the creator asks of us? Our survival depends on our collective repentance and our openness to what happens when we turn from seeking safety, security and comfort; when we address our vulnerability with a matching humility.

We who have so much must let go. Our treasure lies elsewhere, as our hearts know.

September 12, 2013

Our Daily Bread

       Salutation                                                   Love


       Mother Earth and Father Sky                       We love and are loved

       Hallowed be thy names!                              are fed by and feed each other

       Thy consciousness be ours!                        as soil is rained on

       Thy ways be ours!                                       as water sifts sun.

       In our minds as in our hearts.


       Give us this day our Daily Bread

       and forgive us our trespasses                     Our thoughts distract us

       as we forgive them                                      and our needs we neglect

       who trespass against us.                             we breathe without thought

                                                                          unaware of our frailty.

       Do not reveal paths to destruction

       but deliver us from our folly.                      Patience

       For thine is the essence

       the source and the sweetness                     Help us pause, connect,

       beyond the measure of time.                      check our greed

                                                                          respect our boundaries

       Gratitude                                                    await and hold anticipation.


       With gratitude we are fed                            Compassion

       our relationship complete.

       In gratitude we rest                                     With compassion let us go then

       and are renewed.                                        riding a wave in the moment

                                                                          aware and submissive

       Joy                                                               engaged and inquisitive.


       Joy too is due and natural                           Faith (devotion)

       In stillness of joy we are held.

       Dreamlike, delicate, a gift                           As we falter, as we doubt

       in which we partake.                                   in loneliness, in pain

                                                                          your healing saves us

                                                                          the darkness becoming promise.

                                                                                                (For Father Malcolm)



Independence is the highest value of the USA; that's what they celebrate on July 4th. Let us instead celebrate interdependence.


A softball—the official one—isn't very soft, in fact. You need a glove to catch one, most of the time. A softball is also the name for an easy question, as in, "The reporter took it easy on the mayor—all her questions were softballs." Playing hardball is a metaphor for doing all you can to win.

In my privileged youth I played Five Hundred with my many cousins on the huge front lawn in front of my grandfather's house on a farm on the shore of Lake Erie. It's a game with a bat and a ball and gloves but the similarity to softball ends there: the batter hits the ball to the catchers, each competing to reach a score of five hundred so they can take over the batting.

Five Hundred came to mind this morning as I was casting about for a long-term goal (having recently and unexpectedly being deprived of mine, which was to reform the Green Party of Canada). Back in the days of playing Five Hundred with my cousins, the uncle with the most power over us—he ran the farm—ran for the Conservative Party, lost (which was unusual for a Conservative in rural southwestern Ontario) and shared a memorable lesson with me: "Jamie, stay out of politics; it's a dirty game!"

Softball is to me a lousy game because of how it was played when I was wearing the team jersey of Harlequin Enterprises in the league for publishing houses in the nineties (I chose number fifty-five, the year of my birth). I don't think I've ever been more frustrated or humiliated than when I was told it would be better for our chances if I didn't try to hit anything (I wasn't bad, it was just that the power clique had other plans).


Life on Earth is frustrating, to say the least, for most of us. Every day more of us believe we are doomed. Belatedly, we recognize the interconnectedness of the ecosystems that support life.

Those yet unborn and many young innocents who are beginning their lives are not being taught that doom is our collective fate. Yet children watch and learn; most critically, they depend on adults. They are our hope and we are theirs.

Until last week, politics seemed to me to be the sphere for making change; after all, it's rules that count, right? Then I fell afoul of the rule in the Green Party Members’ Code of Conduct that says you cannot support another party (as I did last year). Since I value creativity and perseverance, I came up with a better idea: play.

Good lessons

Given that we're all doomed and the best we can hope for is that some will survive and start over—probably from scratch—it would be good to pass on something that sustains hope. Abraham and Christ and Mohammed all had a kick at the can, definitely with great lessons. The good lessons for the children to come, though, must be both easy and fun to learn.

Stripping away the power paraphernalia of the game that brought me and my cousins together on that lawn way back in those leisurely summer days—doing without the bat and gloves—we are left with playing catch, an excellent framework for learning the sort of rules that might, in their entirety, guide society in its (greatly reduced and humbled) entirety.

Catch is collaborative, easily taught, quickly mastered and fun. Played with rules like those for Five Hundred, it can communicate how to help the weak (throw them the ball) and how to challenge the skilled (throw it harder). Without bats and gloves—tools for extending and mitigating power—the game is highly accessible and geared to unaided human ability.


"Imaginatively and not literally applicable" is how metaphor is defined. Who can predict how primitive life might become as our systems and supports fail? Whatever really/literally happens will call for ideas and lessons that are profoundly wise, easy to grasp, and scalable to all levels of ability and comprehension. Next time around (should we be so lucky) we'll all have to make sure everyone gets to play and the game is truly for everyone.

July 10, 2022