Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Curvature Of Nature - Reprise

"The cause of all our personal problems and nearly all the problems of the world can be summed up in a single sentence: Human life is very deep, and our modern dominant lifestyle is not." - Bo Lozoff

Bo Lozoff started the Prison Ashram Project with Ram Dass in 1973, which has grown into the largest interfaith prison ministry in the world. Bo’s book, We’re All Doing Time, now in its 17th printing, is widely referred to as “the convicts’ bible” and was named by Village Voice as “one of the ten books everyone in the world should read.”

For over 30 years Bo has traveled around the world giving talks in thousands of prisons, churches, and community centers. His many roles include author, spiritual teacher, friend, counselor, musician, and modern day mystic.

For more information on the work of Bo, his wife Sita, and the Human Kindness Foundation, please visit

Here's a real lesson, I believe. Manifest reality works in ragged lines, often curved, never perfect. Human brains like straight lines, instinctively know that they are the shortest distances, and without sophistication will expect the flatness they see to the horizon is the truth of things.

Humans want things in the world to work just like brains do. And they do, sort of, once you get past the illusions. But humans like to hang out and fool around and not take so much responsibility too if they can. In these matters they don't have time between getting food, fighting and fucking. Raising kids just like them. And all the other things they get involved in. They don't have time to see clear, would rather see straight because it is so much easier. Besides, it's close enough for government. You get a C on the test, you pass, even though the price may be high, but you can't have an omelet without breaking eggs, now can you? Often humans hate other humans who see better and will persecute them. We all know the usual examples of that.

Especially in America, we like technology but not the nerds and geeks who produce it, like science but deeply distrust scientists who might be able to tell us how to live safely on the planet, and now we are paying the price as China and India grow better scientists than we have.

I like poetry. I think poetry is very often reminiscent of the true short lines of nature, the ones that curve all over the place and take us home more certainly than those God damned straight jacket lines of the people who think they need to run things.

The Curvature Of Nature

The best lines nature
offers are curved and crooked
like the veins in leaves,
and in our bodies,
like the paths that rivers take.
Why then should we think
that good lives are straight,
that good men should be upright,
I be an arrow?

February 20, 2009 8:09 AM

The Curvature of Nature first posted on Friday, October 23, 2009
I have added the photos and Bo Lozoff as new elements.


  1. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of straight lines. I think men prefer straight lines. Women know that life is messy, non linear, organic, circular.

  2. I really dig this poem Christopher. I've collected many of yours. This one shall go next to that one...the swell of a woman's hip between.

  3. The best lines nature
    offers are curved and crooked

    Which proves Nature is a true artist!

  4. Leaving aside all obvious comments on straightness (:P) and agreeing with you wholeheartedly, I think people do prefer the ragged, we just don't want to admit it. Remember fractals, remember the golden mean: they come from and are reflected in nature. It's when people try to over-intellectualize those beauties that it becomes aggravating; thankfully, only a handful of math and science people do that, and the rest of us can be surprised by the variations of a fern for hours.

    Well, ideally, at least. :)

  5. Joseph...LOL. Of course I wouldn't think of that and you would. A curvy use of language.

    Straight lines are a little like cheating in a way. They lead to efficiency but always at a price. When you have a large and open world with somewhere to put the left overs and it doesn't bother you that someone or something else is paying a price then major things can get done and that is the story of our technical civilization. But when the world is closed like ours is becoming, then it is ourselves that pay the price. Waking up is a bitch because karma is by now overwhelming, the burden too heavy to carry and too much to repair completely. Lately we fear that it is too late and we are caught in our own trap.

    Straight line thinking tends to be criminally forgetful of others. In Holland and in Europe more generally we have been forced to think more curvaciously and Europeans are a little bit ahead. In India and China where straight line thinking did not dominate until recently, the passions for comfort and success are making recall of planetary wisdom difficult.

    Straight lines are in the heart of a certain simple mathematical thought and this thought is not only relatively easy but is in potential in most four footed brains and some birds too. Thus we are not the only ones to behave poorly, but we are the only ones to develop it beyond very small localities. The point is that it would be a mistake to consider this kind of thinking unnatural. However it is surely not sophisticated and we can die of it after murdering much of the planet. If we were to die of it today it would already be after murdering much of the planet.

    One of the things we do is try hard to hide our left overs from ourselves. We are modestly successful at that, unless we are sufficiently low class, in which case we are immobilized by poverty and are left behind or pushed into the dump.

    Try not to take what I have said too seriously without pondering all that I have not said. Otherwise you will encounter straight lines. That's the trouble. Our very language tends to be linear. This is why poetry can be important. Poetry is not so linear.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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