Archive for the ‘On the Nature of Perception and Human Interconnectedness’ Category

A Conversation in Twelve Days: Reliquary of Remembrances

March 24, 2023
Line Holland America, Eurodam Cruise Itinerary
Line Holland America, Eurodam Cruise Itinerary


In Memoriam Papá


The ‘I’ believes in pleasure, laughter, good food, sex.   The ‘I’ believes in itself, sometimes it is proud of itself but sometimes ashamed of itself.   Who does not carry the stain of shame, a faux pas [*a moment of embarrassment], a lost opportunity that, just remembering them, cures us of the threatening hubris of believing ourselves, in Mexican terms, the mero mero [*the cock of the walk], the cat’s meow, the king of the forest, the bee’s knees?

Carlos Fuentes, This I Believe: An A-Z of a Writer’s Life; The I. p. 315. Bloomsbury Publishing, London; Translated by Kristina Cordero, Copyright 2004. [* My translation].




Writing for me is the result of reasoning through experience, sifting agenda whether mine or those of others.   In shaping my narratives, the process inevitably extends long beyond the scope of a story.   I cannot define my emotions unless I have spent time examining them.   Unlike a professional journalist, on purpose I avoid writing on commission or for any kind of financial gain.  For a few years now, owing to the Covid Pandemic, I have substituted writing for my brushes and painting studio.   Spontaneity defines these narratives just as it had my abstract paintings.   I struggle for disinterestedness:   a universality intrinsic to every work of art. 

Thus, a narrative’s introduction is ironically an epilogue.  Initially, the conversation taking place between David and me had not been set.  It is through the course of this cruise that evocations are gleaned from the past.  They are our way of understanding ourselves as spouses.

This exploration of the West Indies and the Caribbean held des énigmes.  For us, it was the exploration of an unknown continent. Among these southern lands resided that Little Venice [Venezuela], the source of my current distress:  Why did I have to leave there a half century ago for a frigid Western New York?  This story illustrates both my father’s culture and my own perspective.

In the mutability of time, confessions seek understanding.  Memory comes from/out of habit, opinion, desire, pleasure, pain, and fear.   Each manifests a change.  Like jetsam in times of distress each one of these resurfaces, though not preserved, but transformed into something new.  The succession of worn-out ideas is an act of replacement.  

A wanderer’s hope and prayers I add for those left behind.   In pondering these memories, I examine my own validity and ambiguities.  This reliquary of contradictions stands between intuition and fact.  I seek the readers’ empathy as a transition.

Each alliance of loyalty between fact and intuition can place us in a better universe.  It is our beliefs that the human spirit can rise above life’s vicissitudes.

Here, I wish to include special thanks to Professor Andrew Irving, Ph.D., head of the Department of Anthropology, University of Manchester, England, for his generous support and guidance.  I have known Andrew for the past 26 years, and once I had the opportunity to collaborate on a research project, entitled The Art of Life and Death: Radical Aesthetics and Ethnographic Practice (2017).  Since before the publication of my WordPress’s web page Observations on the Nature of Perception (Visual Art, Aesthetic Plasticity, and a Free Human Mind) – a repository for short stories published as of 2008 – I had already shared with him a number of testimonials on aesthetics, which became crystalized in my post Acts of Individual Talent (2009).    These had evolved over our conversations in the course of thirteen years, starting in 1997 since we met for the first time:

Ricardo realized that the true measure of a painter is the making of art despite the obstacles and challenges one has to endure.   Ricardo was particularly motivated by the fact that there have been innumerable artists whose accomplishments did not depend on engaging with the marketplace.   He was drawn to “all the great works by anonymous artists from Greek and Roman Antiquity, that were plundered, destroyed, and stigmatized during the Dark Ages,” as well as Cézanne, who endured forty years of obscure labor before landing a first one-man-show, and Van Gogh, whose sublimely “outsider” creations were only recognized after his death.   For Ricardo, the term “outsider art” often denotes a prejudice toward individuals perceived to be riddled by some sort of physical or psychological health impairment.   As such, both academia and the art establishment tend to divide art on the basis of its cultural import or through an underlying bias that Ricardo suggests evolves according to market demands.   Another term is folkloric art, deemed to refer to the art of the colonies or the cultural heritage of a nation, which is associated with ideas of shared roots and lived experiences.   “Are these terms in some way similar or different from the issues involved in art produced during the struggle over chronic or terminal disease?” Ricardo asked after reading this chapter, “and while the notion of mutuality is essential to understanding the shared human condition, can it also help to expand sensibilities about understanding human expression in an interdisciplinary scientific context, bound by the myriad circumstances that may engulf human pathos besides biology, be it in sociological survival to fit in or as an effort to therapeutically survive a chronic or terminal disease?”   Ricardo’s response and analysis continued:  “There is great intelligence in the creative efforts made by the human mind to survive any circumstance.   Besides, it is undeniable that bodily pain and mental pain are ubiquitous in life, be it one of privilege or alienation.   The logical concepts of cognitive science with averages, classifications, and algorithms will serve no other purpose than to provide a mere approximation to understanding the complexity of human expression, its diversity, heterogeneity, and inenarrable nature. Can we really come to understand the ways in which different modes of inner expression – such as people’s ongoing interior dialogues, un-articulated moods, imaginative life-worlds, and emotional reveries – if they remain hidden beneath the surface of public activities, hence hidden from research?   Ultimately, that which is mystical about the cycle of life and death may not be elucidated by a tactical approach, but through a profound introspection that is very difficult to articulate.”   In 2008, Ricardo was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer associated with AIDS that affects white blood cells and can emerge when the immune system is weakened for prolonged periods.   Throughout his illness, chemotherapy treatment, and convalescence, Ricardo spent many months sitting in silence in his chair. Beds and chairs are often dynamic sites of thought, expression, and memory for people living with an extended periods of illness, whose thinking ranges freely across the past, present, and future.   People remain thinking and speaking beings even when lying or seated in silence for long periods and may be negotiating critical issues, dilemmas, and decisions regarding treatment, work, or faith and be engaged in emergent streams of interior dialogue, thought, and emotion.   It was during this state, which Ricardo describes as one of “high inertia” that he came to recognize the simplicity, power, and aesthetics of silence, especially “when compared with all the noise and visual cacophony of the tangible world at large.”   Of course, a silence is never simply a silence.   Different days are mediated by different silences; an uncertain silence, a good silence, a heroic silence, a surreal silence, a painful silence.   A silence can contain the faces of the people closest to you, thoughts of suicide, images of the world outside, daydreams, and future-orientated life projects.   After months of dwelling in silence, Ricardo wrote a Manifesto of Silence to help him think through and articulate his thoughts. It begins as follows:   “The verbalization of an aesthetic reality implies its own death; no matter how precise, its very accuracy of words resists the magnitude of that reality.   It is found in the open space of silence, in the virtuous stillness of a meditative contemplation, in the freedom itself of the known, free to observe with a heightened attention, where questions are unnecessary and responses trivialize the very observation.”  After finishing the chemotherapy, Ricardo came down with severe tendonitis, which meant he no longer had the requisite strength to stretch canvases in order to paint.   Consequently, when he started painting again he did so on hanging scrolls.   Ricardo came to understand the scroll material and how it behaved in its simplest of terms and in relation to his own physical limitations.   Between 2009 and 2010, Ricardo started to work on a scroll series called Metaphors of Silence, in which “it was this incidental simplicity of the medium of scrolls and my empathy for the nature of silence that produced the subject matter.”

Andrew Irving, The Art of Life and Death: Radical Aesthetics and Ethnographic Practice (2017), Chapter 3, To Live That Life; Observations on the Nature of Perception, pp. 119-24

When I last revised the post Acts of Individual Talent in 2020, I concluded with a question:   . . .would we not need to assess the irrationality of our system of valuation, perhaps even our own cultural rationality?

More recently, on February 3, 2023, Andrew and I also had a long discussion via Zoom, which was based on my WordPress post Meditations on Ortega y Gasset (2022).  At that time, he provided a critical analysis with extensive bibliography, which, he felt, would enhance my perspective about the Enlightenment and its limitations. 

Furthermore, I extend my gratitude to my friend and editor for the past 36 years, Billy Bussell Thompson, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Hofstra University, Department of Romance Languages.  It is thanks to Billy that I remain hopeful in developing my skills as a writer.

Fort Lauderdale, March 24, 2023


. . .think only of the ambition of men, and you will wonder at the senselessness of their ways, unless you consider how they are stirred by the love of an immortality of fame.

Plato’s Symposium:  Diotima; on the wisdom of Love, location 29406.

Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Kindle Edition by Titan Read, Plato: The Ultimate Collection; Copenhagen, Denmark.



Clouds loomed, as if mountains, over the horizon.  From the balcony of our stateroom, we watched the wake’s effervescent whiteness.  Gulls pierced rolling waves and cawed their disputes.



Our travels across the Bahamas and along the coasts of Central America had begun two days ago on the Eurodam.  On January 4th we had left Fort Lauderdale.  Already we have passed by Cuba and Hispaniola.  Now, five days later, we are approaching Aruba, a mere 76 miles from Venezuela.  A pilot boat will guide us to moorage.  But a fire alarm has gone off, and the stench of diesel permeates the air.  A few minutes later the captain announces: Everything has been brought back to normal.  The emergency has been aborted.



David and I are speaking; emergency lights are still flashing.

  • It’s been fifty years since I left.  I was 17.  



We disembark in Oranjestad.

  • Eighty-five years today my parents were ostracized from Germany.   Five years later they married in the United States, where they lived happily until their deaths.
  • For my parents, leaving the country was never an option and their marriage was unhappy.
  • Did you ever come with them to Aruba?
  • Only as a child.



  • How was your relationship with them at that time?
  • My parents emphasized independence.     For me they were a bridge to the country, still.     They understood I had to go abroad.   There was no other choice.   From my love for them, ties to Venezuela have never wavered.     Our proximity now, however, elicits no nostalgia, only recollections.    I do care, though. 



  • You must have some memorable moments from then?
  • Camping out with the Boy Scouts on the Andean plateau.  That honed my vision.
  • Anything else? 
  • I remember the ashrams of the Universal Fraternity.  There were monks, followers of Serge Raynaud de la Ferrière (in Valencia, Maracay, and Caracas).  I frequented all three of them, during the summers.  These ashrams schooled its attendees in a mixture of natural sciences and Buddhism:  For me this was more stimulating than listening to church sermons, with their evocations of sin and the shadows of shame.  That’s when I began yoga and meditation.
  • What impressed you the most?
  • I was drawn by the emphasis in self-denial.  But I disliked being dependent on other people.  I just wanted to expand beyond myself.  



  • In those years, I was attached to nothing in particular.  Was I a dilettante? 
  • You were inquisitive; it was a time for discovery. 
  • I went to seminars on musicology; I took German lessons; it was a time for Hesse, Kafka, Gibran, Thoreau’s Walden, and Skinner’s Walden Two.



  • I read, but unsystematically.  I liked philosophy, history, painting, and writing, but I wasn’t yet dedicated.  Only slowly, did it all become part of me. 
  • These things awakened your spirit.
  • I was free from obligations and they expressed my relationship to the world.
  • You were learning to be original.  You sought your own voice.  You didn’t mimic other people.
  • The more I felt, the greater my involvement.  It was just a way to express myself.  I wasn’t looking for success, or distraction. 



We disembarked and walked over to the shopping malls.  From Main Street we veered into the side ones.  On both sides, most storefronts were boarded up.  The façades showed signs of a better time, perhaps, from when Venezuelans were flamboyant.  Now only makeshift stands crowded the sidewalk, manned by folk with a distinctive Venezuelan lilt:  In friendly conversation, the word marico floated amongst them.

  • Papá once watched me sitting on the curb of a street next to an old watchman who worked for us on weekends and was known for having an unpredictable temper.  The watchman awaited my family’s departure to the city.  I had often befriended him, peppering him with questions.  Later, Papá said I was the only person who related to this man.
  • Your resilience was your best attribute. 



  • In the late sixties, our family hosted the daughter of Venezuela’s President Rómulo Betancourt, Virginia.  She and her husband stayed in one of our houses in Valencia.   At that time, Virginia Pérez was the head of the National Library in Caracas.   I was thirteen and Papá asked me to take my paintings from the rooms where the guests were staying.   According to him they were out of place.   One day, after having finished lunch, I brought a framed watercolor over to Virginia and began to speak.   My father objected, but she said, disavowing him:  “No, please, leave him alone.”   I continued:   “It shows the spirit of a young man in search of freedom.”    Sweetly she responded:   “I like your way of thinking; I want to hear more.”   Words now failed me. 
  • (David chuckling), you told me this once before.



  • Can you tell if you fit into a pattern, or is your life just a series of episodes?
  • I don’t see the disconnections; I can’t say if there’s a pattern.   I was just bold then.   My speech, vocabulary, and the way I looked must have seemed provocative, perhaps, even epicene.   I threatened expectations.   I was different from my older brother, who was athletic and had lots of friends.   I was a loner.   For my lack of sport, maybe Papá found me not only vulnerable, but also naïve.   Was it dissatisfaction or was it nonconformity?   I only found solace in my private inventions.  Shortly afterwards, I erased, slashed, tore two years of paintings, only to regret this later.   Papá said I was rebelling against my own culture.  
  • Your father knew you couldn’t survive a world of machismo and its deeply rooted biases.
  • That’s the point.   I hadn’t understood that yet.    Papá saw my creativity as a target for victimization.   He told me I couldn’t be a lawyer.   I wouldn’t fit in.   When I argued I could go into international law, he was equally incredulous. 
  • Perhaps, for that same reason, he never got involved in politics; he knew human imperfections carried their own risks; he recognized the kind of dishonesty that pervaded Venezuela.   He wanted you to be safe.  That’s why you had to leave.



  • I’ve come to understand that exceptionalism is a myth.   Disappointment is powerful.   I had to leave. 



  • Even if I am surrounded by falsehood, I must not be cynical.   What does that serve?   Human imperfections can’t be freed from themselves.   I feel uncomfortable, however, when people ask where I am from, as if they are diagnosing who I am.
  • Most people don’t mean anything by it.
  • It’s my own reaction.   I suppose it proves I am not comfortable with English.   It feels as if people are placing me in a niche.
  • Most people can identify with that, I do for one.   Few of us ever get the questions right.
  • Does anyone, really?   If they did, answers would be unnecessary. 




That night, it rained.   A full moon unveiled itself from behind the clouds.    We stepped again onto the balcony and admired the kaleidoscope of twinkling lights across the island.

  • In the first few years outside of Venezuela, I was enamoured of life in the United States.   Long before going there, my Aunt Lina’s place in Buffalo had filled my dreams.   She was able to flee the Holocaust.   Her rose garden was just what I had imagined.   Her graciousness was the same as when I had met her in Venezuela.   Her garden left a lasting impression on me. 



That morning we anchored in Willemstad, Curaçao, surrounded by a rumpus of pelicans near the pier. 

  • On my first visit back to Venezuela, Papá asked me what I thought about the inflation in the United States.   I never knew why he posed that question.   Its irony was not lost on me 50 years later, when Venezuela has accrued one of the highest rates in the history of the world.



We went sightseeing in Willemstad.   The city’s old buildings, streets, and bridges were reminiscent of Amsterdam.   We took photographs and wandered around slowly.   Then thinking of our families, we shopped for table linens.

  • Do you think your father foresaw the disintegration of Venezuela? 
  • The world where I grew up was always on the brink.   Papá used to say he did not know how we were going to manage without him.   He feared for every aspect of our lives, and even for every Venezuelans’ families.   He even feared a total civil brutality in that landscape of pervasive dishonesty.   How could it be prevented?



Keeping to ourselves, we had a full day at sea.   We ate alone.   We had little in common with the other passengers:   all two thousand of them.

  • After twenty-four years later, I came back.   Without a gallery’s contract, again I have thought about destroying my paintings.   This time, I was tempted to burn them, but the flames might have engulfed me and my home.   This thwarted me.   I could only store them.
  • Couldn’t somebody have helped?
  • Papá did the best he could, even inciting jealousy among my brothers and sisters.  Perhaps, he felt sorrier for me …. When I was interviewed by a local newspaper concerning my work in the United States, a lot of our neighbors thought the interview self-serving.   Then Papá died and I became even more of an outsider.
  • What happened to him?
  • By the age of 70, he had become delusional, untethered from his own will.   His last five years coincided with Venezuela’s disintegration, and family members sought safety in Europe and elsewhere in America.   For me art became secondary.



  • What about your brothers and sisters?
  • It’s sad to say.   Their sense of entitlement has complicated matters.   My older brother claimed the right of primogeniture, though he had no legal authority for such.  We denied it to him, but lacked the resources to challenge him.  He kept the rents mostly for himself.  With the passing of years, the properties have lost value and some have been taken over by squatters, and some even expropriated by the government.  Out of concern for his safety, I made an offer to help him.  He rebuffed me saying he counted on the first Lady of Venezuela.  He added that he could not leave Venezuela and lose his identity as a lawyer.
  • These explanations are puzzling.   And what about your two sisters and younger brother?   What has happened to them?
  • My youngest sister moved to Madrid with her husband and two young daughters.   My other sister and younger brother have stayed in Venezuela.   They protect each other as well as they can.    For the last ten years, I have been helping them and my paternal aunts.
  • I remember meeting your aunts.   That was when I traveled to Venezuela with you.   We celebrated your mother’s eightieth birthday and your older brother’s remarriage.   I also remember his son’s grief.   He seemed inconsolable.   Didn’t he move to Argentina with his partner?
  • Yes.   We also did our best to console him, such as when he met my former partner, Nelson.   He felt reinforced by our presence, and my relationship with Nelson triggered a validation that his father had always feared.    All along my nephew sought his father’s acceptance.   I told them there was no place for shame.



Not too far from where we are, in a small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela stands a plinth.  It pays homage to guerrillas sent by Cuba to Venezuela in the 1960’s.  Their campaign collapsed.  Five decades later, Hugo Chávez helped achieve Cuba’s fantasy – this time without firing a shot.

  • I cannot judge Venezuela nor its history, for I no longer am part of it.  I have not suffered the lash of Venezuelan repressions.  For the past 50 years, I have been in the United States, where measures of rectification constantly challenge authoritarianism and kleptocracy.  
  • Recently, you spoke to my friend Cindy, who is an analyst at the US treasury.  She told you quite frankly that the American government’s sanctions on corrupt Venezuelan individuals are not simple issues.  The flight of fortunes from countries like Venezuela cannot be easily controlled where there is flagrant corruption. 
  • Indeed, that’s a reality no one can manage.



  • In your opinion, is there any hope for Venezuelan stability? 
  • It’s complex.   It is inexplicable how, for instance, billions of dollars are acquired out of nowhere by the children of local politicians.   They care not at all for its constituency or for their country:   A nation of laws has ceased to exist.  



  • Have you ever interacted with Venezuelan officials? 
  • Only indirectly, through second and third cousins (who worked in the executive branch and the Ministry of Foreign Relations) as well as my own brother (who was a circuit judge for the State of Carabobo).   Aside from them, I have only engaged a would-be reformer, who now lives in Florida.   In 1999, he was a congressman involved in writing  the last Venezuelan constitution.   Currently, among expatriates, he has a large following.   In one of his podcasts, he took issue with me over the lack of maturity in Venezuelan politics.   He replied furiously to my allegations of self-interest:   ¿Y quién coño eres tú?” [And, who tha fuck are you?].   Later, I sent him a text “in general most reformers fail to address what they intend to reform,” and he replied:   ¡Ay, por Dios, éste es un gran maricón! [Oh, my God, this man is just a faggot].   Then he blocked me. 



We arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, where we toured the old walled city and the Fortress of San Felipe.   Long undulating promenades (covered by trellises draped in bougainvillea) were delightfull and hugged the walls of the malecón.  The guide spoke of the father of Greater Colombia, Simón Bolívar, who had died at Santa Marta.  He pointed out a wine-colored fortress where Gabriel García Márquez had resided.  

  • Even though I did not take part in the protests, with my keyboard I favored dissenters and insurrectionists alike.  This was my cri du cœur.  Though we have all failed, for me the morality of this call has never gone silent.
  • It’s your voice.
  • Time itself is an instrument that balances the absence of truth, the swing of delusion, and the debris of extremism.  As time unfurls, it allows us to come to an understanding. 
  • It heals our madness.
  • Maybe, justice will prevail.   Maybe, harmony will be achieved in a new generation.  
  • Also, when we least expect it, despots may usurp our freedoms.


We were now in the Panama Canal about to enter the Gatún Locks.  Pulled by trains on each side, the ship climbed up through three locks until reaching the waters of Lake Gatún.  The architectural feat of the Canal sparked my imagination (suddenly I thought about the Egyptian Pyramids).   We reached the shore of the lake on tenders and from there we made a tour by bus.  We zigzagged through hundreds of military buildings and army barracks until we arrived at the Locks of Miraflores on the Pacific.  From there we drove to the Old City, where we photographed its colonial buildings and plazas.  Clustering across the bay, we could see the skyline of present day Panama City.  Then we drove to Colón on the Atlantic.   Just before boarding back on the Eurodam, we walked through a small zoo leading to the pier.  Roaming around, among mammals and tropical birds, we saw a giant anteater and its long tongue, swallowing a thousand morsels.    David brings up politics: 

  • No country is exempt from the excesses of partisanship.
  • But we don’t always know the reasons behind.
  • Do you think an apolitical consciousness is called for?
  • I only know that extremism is no remedy for human uncertainty.
  • The danger is always that polarization can turn into warfare.





We arrived in Costa Rica, anchoring in Limón.   We disembarked to board a tourist bus.   Then we got off to navigate in small boats through the channels that ran along the edges of the jungle.  In heavy, intermittent rain, we saw monkeys, sloths, toucans, snakes, alligators, and crocodiles.   Once the ride was completed, we got back on the bus, which took us to higher altitudes.  When we arrived, we took a cable car into the heart of the rainforest until reaching a research lab, a butterfly garden, and a trail that led to waterfalls.  The wooden stairs of the path were slippery from rain.   Unable to proceed farther, we heard the thunderous sound of the cataracts.

  • I was born in a land of wealth, which is what attracted my ancestors.   They came to Venezuela as early as 1745, both from Europe and the Canary Islands.   Between 1799 and 1804, the German geographer, Alexander von Humboldt, in his writings, lauded the colony as a paradise for the advancement of science.   Today this paradise struggles for its own survival.  



  • On May 13, 2014, I received an answer to one of my queries from the White House’s website for foreign relations, on behalf of President Obama.   The email bore the letterhead of the White House, though obviously pro forma.   In closing, it read … With our international partners, the United States is continuing to look at what more we can do in support of that effort [i.e. ‘for an honest dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition’].   America has strong and historical ties with the Venezuelan people, and we remain committed to our relationship with them.   Their fundamental freedoms and universal human rights must be protected and respected.
  • To an impartial reader this email may seem either empathetic, or even propagandistic; but the reality is that Venezuela may need the United States, not the other way around, at least not at this time.



The last two days at sea, we dined in private restaurants.   I took notes of our conversation.   David indulged my writing and editing until he complained that I wasn’t paying enough attention to eating.   Writing seemed to be the one habit I could not ignore.   It was my solace.   That last night, when passing along the southwest coast of Cuba, the rough waters of the sea made walking unstable.   Before midnight, we packed our bags and placed them in the hallway outside the cabin door.

  • Past, present, and future time collided:   Chávez’s death in 2013 led me to think about Papá’s in 1997.   The year before, I had taken him to Urgencias at a private hospital.   A neurologist there said he had suffered a brain injury and there was little to be done.   He was 74.    He could no longer speak.   Suddenly, surprisingly, he sat up in anger; something obviously gnawed at him deeply.   He threatened.  
  • To the bitter end, your father was tormented.   You could neither appease nor redeem him.



Next morning was our twelfth and last day, as we arrived in Fort Lauderdale.   We went to breakfast on deck two and, again, we ate alone.   Then, returning to deck eight, back in our stateroom, we waited to disembark.   We were the third group, color red, and, finally at 11 am, were summoned.   We went down to deck one and lined up with the other passengers.   After our ID’s were scanned, we walked down the ramp to the terminal, collected our luggage, and exited.   We called a Uber to take us home, where we arrived 12 minutes later.

  • Papá’s and Hugo Chávez’s death spared them both from the torment of national crisis.
  • For Venezuela’s new generation, social inequities are rooted in differences of ideology.
  • Is the new generation a throwback to the Cold War?
  • Can the new generation examine itself?
  • As long as the inquiry is not reactionary:   i.e. an inquiry into truth.
  • This dilemma is not unique to Venezuela.   Over this, the whole world struggles.




. . .he whom love touches not walks in darkness. . . .    Love . . . .the God who . . . .   “[g]ives peace on earth and calms the stormy deep,/ Who stills the winds and bids the sufferer sleep.”

Plato’s Symposium:  Agathon’s encomium on Love [location 29229].

Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Kindle Edition by Titan Read, Plato: The Ultimate Collection; Copenhagen, Denmark.


Love’s grace suggests a continuation of learning.   As David raised the shades (allowing the sun’s rays to stream into our living room), he hummed:   “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”    In response I:   “How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.”   David continued:

  • Life is soaked in uncertainty.
  • The measure of our limitations is uncontrollable.
  • Hope is always an option.
  • Faith is bigger than ourselves.
  • Strife never conquers it.
  • Tranquility defines it.
  • Action fulfills it.
  • Least said. . . .


The End

Ricardo F Morin

Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson



Meditations on Ortega y Gasset

December 19, 2022




First, I would like to share with my readers my utmost gratitude to Billy Bussell Thompson (b. November 23, 1942), Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Hofstra University, for his generosity in being a mentor and editor.       His scholarly trajectory goes from 1963 to 1993.        Among his most salient publications in English, we have:       Relic and Literature . . .; Bilingualism in Moorish Spain; The Myth of the Magdalen . . .; etc. . . .


Since 1989, our friendship has extended over more than three decades.       We have worked in close proximity on at least a dozen articles and short stories (published in WordPress).        I have been fortunate to count on his frankness and support.       He has never minced words.       He has been blunt, when any of my drafts seemed without merit.        When that was the case, the articles went into a shredder, and I was satisfied by the integrity of his prose, as well as by my understanding of my own limitations as a writer.        Prof. Bussell Thompson (B.B.T.) usually compares the skill of prose writing with that of a narrowing cone of vision.         This selective cone of vision is akin to the aesthetic integrity of a visual work of art.       With the present endeavor, Prof. B.B.T. believed, from the very beginning, in the possibility of bringing forth this story as a team.       Even though we live in different regions – geographically far apart – of the USA, we have had no trouble communicating via phone and email.


This narrative seeks to explain the confusion found in society and politics, and even their seeming lack of purpose.     For this reason, I dedicate my narrative to the readers.


Initially, I knew not where this would lead.           I submitted a five-paragraph draft to professor B.B.T.       As he began to read, he paused and asked if I was alluding to Plato’s allegory of the cave.     Surprised, I asked him to stop.       I replied that his reference to Plato placed me in a different perspective.       Gratefully, I added that his question was most welcome; at that point, I wanted to read more before continuing.


He encouraged me to reread Plato’s dialogues.       To this he added that I take into account any ambiguity associated with Plato’s conception of the ideal authority of the State (politeia) or Nation.       He referred to the Platonic ideas controversial in current discussions.        He also recommended reading José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955).        He included The Revolt of the Masses [1929] and The Dehumanization of Art [1925].         He suggested that I be aware of Ortega’s meritocratic liberal perspective (though we believed that Ortega had not been known for openly endorsing any political ideology) and to heed the relevance Ortega gives to the man who is aware of his limitations – opposed to the man who is unaware:     both the bourgeoisie and the mass man (who exemplify, for him la razón sinrazón [the reason for unreason]) – as explained in The Revolt of the Masses.       And finally, I focus on the distinction between “content” and “form,” to explain the break by the avant-garde from the bourgeoisie.


Professor B.B.T. and I also had an exchange of ideas over the parallels between the Platonic and Orteguian thought.      He advised me then to read anew Meditations on Quixote [1914] both in Spanish and in English.      There, B.B.T. thought that I could find a significant or productive landscape of ideas on which to reflect and, thus, be able to develop my own interpretations about the nature of knowledge, its limits, and how to find the meaning of the ideal of truth.


In writing my last short story, entitled In Darkness, Professor B.B.T. had already urged me to note the meaning for circunstancia1 (“circumstance”) as defined by Ortega in Meditations on Quixote.       It was clear to us that both Ortega’s phenomenological approach to “circumstance” and Plato’s thesis on the transformation of the individual (through knowledge) shared commonalities, which nurtured my own narrative.


But, the narrative journey proved to be just as challenging as Professor B.B.T. had pointed out.     His criticism, even then, never ceased being constructive and energetic.    His compassion was present as long as I was mindful of the necessity for clarity and precision.    Often, he would cite Ernest Hemingway’s authenticity and precision. 


Time and time again, I experienced enormous pain in trying to comprehend what I wished to express.    Freeing my prose from superficiality was like taking a deep breath to exhale the vagueness of my anxieties.    Sometimes I was unable to get away from the obvious.    Other times, either I hid behind the complex, or I would cling to abstract and cryptic thinking:    the reductive jargon of the social sciences.    Professor B.B.T. repeatedly suggested succinctness:      I needed to respect the simplicity of language and find a way to its accessibility.    Bringing Plato and Ortega to the reader was my responsibility.    I was not to imitate them nor to think like them, but to represent them authentically.    My first obligation was to the reader.    For this I had to avoid euphemisms, randomness, and diversion.    The affirmation of effective communication is an objective worth the effort.      I would only understand myself, if I were to understand the reader.


B.B.T.’s exhortations and criticisms, I welcomed enthusiastically.    His challenge became mine.  He has been exorcising my limitations for two decades:    Every time we have worked together, I have discovered something new in myself.    I have become more attuned to both English and Spanish.    I have had to be my own translator.     In these instances, I have grown more respectful of the two languages.    I have had to capture their essence by comparing them:     the one informs the other.



In Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus [circa 369 B.C.E.], Socrates proposes that the extraordinary extraction of ideas is like bringing forth a new life and purging what is unnecessary.    Likewise, the aim here is to produce and discuss what enlightenment is, and the obstacles to its achievement.    Socrates has helped me in my definition of knowledge:     Is morality universal, or is objective morality even possible?    For these ideas I am indebted both to Plato and to Ortega y Gasset.

Ricardo F Morin, December 19, 2022

Editor Billy Bussell Thompson



Plato, Roman marble bust copied from Greek original, 4th century B.C.E., Capitoline Museums, Rome.


Socrates, Roman marble bust copied from Greek original, 2nd half of the 4th century B.C.E., Capitoline Museums, Rome.


José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), detail of photograph of his impersonation of Honoré de Balzac, circa 1900.


One way to objectivity is to recognize one’s own subjectivity.    Metaphors for understanding reality are rare.    One sees the world primarily through one’s own experience.    It is difficult (though not impossible) to understand what one has not experienced.    Truth never rests:  It is not singular, but always plural.





  • 1. Awareness of the Transformation of One’s Self:

The highest principle of inquiry is consciousness of one’s self.    In inquiry lie the beginnings of change.




  • 2. The Absence of Trust:

In our age of disbelief, the stories we tell each other about the past and the present seem to be in a state of collapse.    There is a lack of continuity in the social order, increasingly suffocated by misinformation and distrust.  We challenge each other over what is real and what is not.



  • 3. The Unassailable Truth:

For most of us an ultimate truth remains unattainable and the stories we share from the past and the present no longer seem useful.    Along with the disappearance of our past stories, both the person who seeks truth and the act of giving a person his due are in crisis.     Our society finds itself defined by a decline in trust both in government and its institutions.    Despairingly, the challenge is that the creation of new stories has become an act of preservation.     Likewise, autocracy is on the ascendance.    A lack of faith has sown aimlessness.    What can change this course of despair?    What will bring enlightenment to us?




  • 4. Consciousness:

Knowledge is constantly changing and the result of this destabilization carries us into greater disorder.     For this reason clarity is more necessary than ever to understand ourselves.     Even if clarity is not always possible, to know oneself is imperative.    Thus arises the tension between continuity and change.    Here lies the quest for survival.




  • 5. Not Knowing:

Not knowing is the essential condition of existence, despite one’s apparent desire for knowledge or for authority.     To know is to inquire.     Reality, though fleeting, inspires reflection.     Change begins with the recognition that one is not in isolation.     Not even the one (who seeks self-sacrifice for his spiritual advancement) by absolute cloister could get rid of his entanglement with the world.    It is by relating to other people and his environment that this person comes to know who he is.     Not even he (who despises the symbols of fear) is capable of freeing himself from his anguish.   The fear of not knowing hangs over all of us.     It is possible that striving without measure (in the aspiration for rationality) only leads us to end up being irrational:     Here lies the origin of complexity given the absence of innocence.




  • 6. The Energy of Life:

In his theory of cultural attributes (Meditaciones del Quijote, Meditación preliminar; Índice 8, La pantera o del sensualismo, pág. 21), José Ortega y Gasset gives us his concept of razón vital2, which means reason is expressed through life itself.    Ortega parses the European mind into two archetypes:     the Germanic and the Mediterranean.     The former is meditative and the latter sensuous.   Of the sensuous he says:     The predominance of the senses usually implies a deficiency in inner powers.    What is meditating as compared with seeing?     As soon as the retina is hit by the arrow from without, our inner personal energy hastens and stops the intrusion.     The impression is registered, subjected to civilized order; it is thought, and in this way it is integrated in the building up of our personality, and cooperates within it – Evelyn Rugg and Diego Martín’s translation – Notes and Introduction by Julián Marías – pp. 85-86.     The Orteguian admonition here is to find the balance between extremes:   between the excesses and deficiencies of these two archetypes.




  • 7. Human Agency and Its History:

A second source for my understanding of the mind and the senses is found in Plato’s Republic (politeia) – Socrates’s dialogue of the allegory of the cave at the beginning of Book Seven.     There have been many interpretations.     Mine differs.     My purpose is to rid suffering from the mind of the freed slave.     Once freed from shackles, the mind of the freed slave (who ascends to the mouth of the cave) discovers its own vision of the world.     Despite the sun’s glare, the uneducated mind is transformed by the newly found ideal of truth.     But the awareness by the prisoner (who has remained behind) is inseparable from the condition of the freed man:      The slave (remaining in shadows of suffering) is not entirely separable from the memory of the freed man.     Because of suffering, the freed man’s mind is aware of its inability to know.      At the same time, the freed mind learns how its own transformation may be dependent on the new course of its history.     This mind’s actions allow participation in change, and change is possible through self examination.      The mind examines itself through meditating.     Meditation is not an obligation, but a necessity.     Meditation is the result of the mind’s freedom and it is the means to understanding its own choices in its approach to truth:     But this effort is only an approximation to the infinity of truth.     The freed mind (facing the visible world) is lacking here.    Thus, the freed mind recognizes that neither its actions nor the course of its history is predictable.     They (i.e. the mind’s actions and the course of its history) come from multiple possibilities about belief.  

The freed mind realizes that time is an illusion:     Time is fleeting, false, and deceitful.     The mind, habitually trapped in its past, remains mired in pain.     Anger (which comes from the past in search for justice) has for its sole purpose the manifestation of resentment.     But anger only manages to put its existence on hold, awaiting compensation.     Just as time is an illusion for the mind, the quest for emotional reparation is also an illusion.     For the mind, there is no vindication by being trapped in the labyrinth of illusion.     Only the rationality of active love can compensate for anger.     If the mind of the lover of truth can project itself lovingly in the direction that it resents, then a liberating sense of bravery arises towards itself.     Anger and sentimentality are one and the same.      As the force of love sheds sentimentality, one’s desires dissipate and with them anger as well.     Thereby, violence ceases to exist.     Socrates’s allegory of the mind (freed from suffering) carries all these implications and comparisons towards a goal of Ideal Truth.




  • 8. Alertness:

In an effort to understand Ortega’s concept of circumstancia (“circumstance”), his Meditación preliminar, Indice 6, Cultura mediterránea, explains to us that when he goes through the landscape of ideas he has to meditate with alertness on the influence of his experiences.     Needless to say, this includes all his past and present relations, the geographies he has occupied, and everything he has done in life.     Ortega forewarns us of the risks in this act of meditation:   We are accompanied by a keen suspicion that, at the slightest hesitation on our part, the whole world could collapse, and we with it.    When we meditate, our mind has to be kept at full tension; it is a painful and integral effortIndex 6, Mediterranean Culture, translated by Evelyn Rugg and Diego Marín (Introduction and notes by Julián Marías [a favorite student of Ortega y Gasset]), p. 34.     In Plato’s dialogues, the same “effort” is found:     Through the act of meditation, Socrates’s freed man draws transformation and redemption from the narrow crevices among ideas.     Meditation helps the lover of truth get closer to his existential condition; it offers him the possibility of reacting differently, and sustains him with the very energy that life provides.




  • 9. Faith:

For the one who fears meditation, having faith in one’s own actions and changes are not sufficient for inquiry.     History is not alive for him:     It is at a point of no return; it is dead.    This person is in a world of despair and surrounded by the proverbial dancing of shadows.     This person is bound in his own chains, is overwhelmed by a lack of confidence, and is, without trust, unable to make a leap of faith.     Neither the notion of individuality nor the concept of free will seems satisfactory any longer.      This person relinquishes personal power and is unaware of the forces influencing his mind and his senses.     His refusal to face reality becomes a conscious decision for the suppression of truth.     This refusal is antithetical to life itself.    For him, life becomes enslavement and stands in opposition to the freed man, who fearlessly ponders the reality of the visible world, and passionately delves into the exploration of the unknown.   The mind of the freed man represents Ortega’s concept of razón vital, desirous to be absorbed by it.




  • 10. Deliverance:

Distractions can be multiple.     In Ortega’s playful analysis, he implies that if meditation is extraneous to the fears of the mind, it can succumb to obsession, and even fall despairingly into manias.      Ortega values the relevance of every influence.     He understands that a human being and his landscape are not separate.     The unity of the two means his salvation by circunstancia (“circumstance”):   Thus his appreciation of circunstancia:    Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia, si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo – Al Lector, Índice, pág. 41 (which I translate as “I am myself [in a world of perceptions] and also the material world that surrounds me; if I don’t save them, I don’t save myself”).     Incidentally, here Ortega preempts his conclusion with what he has read in the Bible:   Benefac loco illi quo notus es3  (loosely translated into English as “do good in the place where you are known”).     With these remarks, Ortega reinforces the idea that he is unable to disassociate himself from his surroundings.    If he is to flourish and to find salvation, it will be necessary for him to understand and protect what he shares with his environment. 

Parallel to Ortega’s analysis is Plato’s Socratic allegory, which teaches us the effect that the visible world has on our mind.     From these two perspectives, the mind tends to be discouraged by what it does not understand.     Awareness of the visible world’s influence is for both thinkers an instinct for survival.     To be aware, therefore, means to be silent, away from the deafening sound of fear.      As long as there is fear, promoted by the progress of civilization, there will be no movement or separation from distractions.     Confronting fear means dispersing it, making it disappear.     Dispersal of fear is fundamental to the understanding of self.      Releasing oneself from fear is confronting one’s not-knowing.     Enslavement (at the depth of the cave) is equivalent to accepting the impositions of fear.     Both, for Ortega and Plato, the opposition to indifference is found through meditation; thereby one is able to be alert and know oneself.




  • 11. Perception and Storytelling:

​True confidence is living in uncertainty.     An overriding fact is that human beings organize themselves around the making of stories.      Every story we create is an act of piety that consoles the mind.      Yet new stories and old ones are provisional tools that fill the gap of our faith, filling in the void of our ignorance.      Whether the story be true or not, storytelling rescues us from ourselves.      Storytelling is our razón vital.    It seeks to expose us to the best possible meaning of ourselves:     Meaning in storytelling is found by investing oneself with the willpower to exceed adversity.    Meaning is found by creating something new within oneself.    Meaning is found in one’s vulnerability and in the constant pain to overcome it.      The process of finding meaning reveals that one cannot control Truth.     Happiness depends on how one accepts the absence of control, and how we can stop disliking our limitations.​

Storytelling persuades us to think that one’s actions will spread deeply into one’s consciousness.     One may not always be able to defeat the element of preconception, for bias is always with us.     As long as suffering, uncertainty, and the effort to overcome them exist, bias will persist.     Bias lurks behind our thoughts, quiet and insidious, yet it is there for a reason in spite of its harmful effects.    The irony is that if one banished preconceptions, there would be no further progress.    In any story, if the hero overcomes the villainy of bias4, it is because he is able to change:     If one does not overcome bias, one does not grow and there is no transformation.     Success is not as important as the struggle to overcome bias.    Every time adversity comes to us, it is an opportunity for the recognition of those preconceptions that still reside in ourselves.     Success does not provide happiness.     Happiness is only possible through self discovery.     As such, one becomes symbolically the whole of humanity.     This is its highest expression:     The creation of something new as we face adversity, and the worse the adversity, the greater the opportunity.




  • 12. Reasoning (sentience vs sapience):

Awareness of fiction is the appreciation of the paradox between what is and what is not.     Knowledge expresses not only the awareness of one’s own intuitions and senses, but also the reasoning about those intuitions, senses, and impressions.    That is, every time we examine the perception of our memory, we are editing our understanding.    Thus, the way we organize and observe ourselves comes from our desires and senses at that moment, and this comes from our memories.    For instance, it is difficult for us to agree on a common origin or a common thread uniting us as a species, even if that may be true.     Whether we wish it or not, we define ourselves by the histories we create either in groups or in countries.     In doing so, we are actually imagining separate and fragmented believes that we belong to separate locales, cultures, and races.     Yet, there is an unavoidable thread that connects us as a species.     Such composition is found in our common and preponderant origin, though our perception may resist being part of it.     We endow ourselves with differences dictated by the conditioning of our perceptions.     In The Revolt of the Masses, Ortega refers to this condition as la razón de sinrazón (“reason without reason”), which explains our deeply rooted irrationality and fragmentation.        Knowledge implies greater content than what is gained through the form of our perceptions.     Our minds tend to abbreviate history, even believing that it does not exist. Yet the more expansive the “circumstance” or condition of apprehending truth, the greater the maturity our existence demands from us.




  • 13. Maturing Emotional Intelligence:

If a human being is the measure of all things, then also one comes to appreciate that knowledge is always inconclusive.     Thus, meditation strengthens our mind, our memory, our learning, our attention, and our self awareness.     Meditation on the past, the present, or the future depends on emotional intelligence.     Emotional intelligence is based on capturing the import of influences from all areas of a man’s life, from one’s behavior to one’s relationship with others and one’s environment.     Ultimate reality depends on the level of maturity of a person, and it is through meditation that one matures.     Hence, how a person chooses to act depends on meditation and his level of emotional intelligence.     For the fanatic (obsessed with fear) meditation seems impossible.     For the fanatic, doubt is not the issue.    The fanatic seeks to reiterate cycles.     The fanatic fails to understand that fear of change is irrational because it is inevitable that the world is constantly evolving.     The fanatic seeks to change what is beyond his control.     From the Orteguian point of view, this person, within a closed valuation system, does not find consolation because his mind fears what it does not understand.




  • 14. Our Connection to the Universe:

From Ortega’s perspective of Cervantes’s Don Quixote [1605-15], we learn that the courage granted by Love – not hate – impels us towards understanding …the useless remains of a shipwreck that life, in its perpetual surge, throws at our feet. – To The Reader, p. 31.    Love is a divine architect who, according to Plato came down to the world – ὥστε τὀ πᾶν αὐτῶ ξυνδέδέσθα – so that every thing in the universe might be linked together:      Separation means extinction.     Hatred, which separates, isolates, and pulls apart, dismembers the world, and destroys individualityTo the Reader, p. 33.

Hence, Ortega explains that the imperative for the individual is to reflect on one’s circunstancia (in medias res), … to arouse the desire of understanding the universal in its particulars. – To the Reader, p. 31:     To ignore the fact that each thing has a character of its own, and not that we wish to demand of it, is, in my opinion, the true capital sin, which I call a sin of the heart because it derives its nature from lack of love.     There is nothing so illicit as to dwarf the world by means of our manias and blindness, to minimize reality, to suppress mentally fragments of what exists.     This happens when one demands that what is deep should appear in the same way as what is superficial.     No, there are things that present only that part of themselves which is strictly necessary to enable us to realize that they lie concealed behind it. – p. 62.




  • 15. A Heroic Perspective:

Knowledge comes before fanaticism.     Fanaticism is, for Ortega, the rejection of the perspectives of others.     Ortega points to reasoning as an act of charity, which uncovers differences, and suggests that understanding is akin to the circling of an eagle in flight.      To be oneself, for Ortega, is the same as it is for Cervantes.      The act of being a hero takes place through a sensitive exploration of the nature of reality.      In Ortega’s view, as well as for Cervantes’s, the will of the hero belongs only to the persona of Don Quixote:   Because to be a hero means to be one out of many, to be oneself if we refuse to have our actions determined by heredity or environment, it is because we seek to base the origin of our actions on ourselves and only on ourselves.      The hero’s will is not that of his ancestors, nor of his society, but his own.     This will to be oneself is heroism. – First Meditation, 15, The Hero, p. 149.    
I do not think that there is a more profound originality than this practical, active originality of the hero.    His life is a perpetual resistance to the habitual and customary.    Each movement that he has to make has first had to overcome custom and invent a new kind of gesture.    Such a life is a perpetual suffering, a constant tearing oneself away from the part of oneself, which is given over to habit and is a prisoner of matter. – First Meditation, 15, The Hero – p. 149.




  • 16. The Fear of fate:

A Socratic life is heroic, but if unexamined, of no value.     In the pain of living, one has to embrace the fact that the examination of fear is part of life.     Alongside this examination, fate is never artificial.     Fate does not deceive, even in our misfortunes.      Fate is not illusive, though our perception of time may be.      Instead, fate challenges us to change.      In change, fate protects us from stagnation.     What appears to be random is, in fact, an opportunity for learning.     Consequently, fate exists not for attacking, but for stimulating our transformation.     Fate does not move against us, but challenges us to change by confronting obstacles.     Fate attacks fear, because one’s fear takes away one’s ability to make choices.    Narratives of fear turn out to be self-fulfilling prophesies.      Fear deceives and defines us.     It hampers survival.     Fear prevents our evolving, it paralices us:     We resist giving up habits because of fear.     Thus one languishes and fails to overcome disbelief.




  • 17. Boundlessness and Humility:

The shadow of shame represents one’s flaws.    The shadow is what one wishes not to be, though its shadow be part of oneself.     Only, when the shadow is accepted with humility, do its flaws dissolve in the act of loving oneself with compassion.     Ultimately, the fanatic will recognize his incompleteness and become aware of his own insignificance:     The incapacity for completeness looms over all of us.     Only through risk does one learn the extent of one’s bounds and how much further one may go.     We advance through humility and humility appreciates neither truth nor falsehood.     Humility is the acknowledgment of one’s inexorable estrangement from an infinite truth.    Only the humble voice recognizes the struggle for understanding and change.     Both depend on a flight from despair.     For Ortega and for Plato, the mark of the highest values is found in our vulnerability.     If we surrender absolutely, then we find redemption.




  • 18. Epilogue:

My perspective treats Plato and Ortega outside of any theistic justification.     I leave aside any application of Plato to theological thought.     Likewise,  I ignore any attempt to ascribe religious respects to Ortega’s theory of values.     For me their notions, when applied to theology, are not credible.     I understand Plato and Ortega in their search for the limits of human perception and rationality.     Efforts to apply their philosophies as religious foundations are outside of my purpose.

The depth of Plato and Ortega’s thought is not to be found in a method for objective morality.     Nor is it ethical relativism, nor even is it found in a claim of universality.      Ideologies on morality are derived from norms dictated by theologians, seemingly unwilling to relinquish authority.    The role of the lovers of truth is not to dictate virtue nor to define the godhead.    Their teachings are centered on rationalism.    Their humanism is based on a concept of justice that is antithetical to fixed norms.    The paradigm of true knowledge – according to Plato and Ortega – is derived from love based on the originality of heroism.     This love does not reside outside of the individual.     This love is not found in the promise of a transcendental world.     This love finds man’s salvation in the present.  This love calls for self examination.   And above all, this love is a liberation from the numbness of the mind.



1 For Ortega circunstancia, is a representation of the sum total of influences in the consciousness of a man, thus expressing the reason for his existence.

2 Razón vital stands as Ortega y Gasset’s philosophy which views that reason is, in of itself, an expression of life.

3 I failed to find this Biblical citation.



  • Meditaciones del Quijote:  Meditación Preliminar y Meditación Primera, by Jose Ortega y Gasset.  First Edition, PUBLICACIONES DE LA RESIDENCIA DE ESTUDIANTES, SERIE II.—VOL. I, Universidad Central de Madrid, MADRID, 1914
  • Meditations on Quixote [1914] by José Ortega y Gassett, translated by Evelyn Rugg and Diego Martín, Introduction and Notes by Julián Marías, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1961-01-01. New York, NY.
  • The Revolt of the Masses by José Ortega y Gasset. Copyright 1932, W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York. Copyright 1960 translated by Teresa Carey.
  • La Rebelión de las Masas de José Ortega y Gasset, first published in 1927 as a series of articles in el diario El Sol, and on the same year as a book.
  • Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus circa 369 B.C.E. Translated by F. M. Jane Levett; Jackson Wylie and Company in 1928, University of Glasgow.
  • The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha – 4 Volumes in 8 Books, Limited Edition No. 71/320, translator John Ormsby (1829–1895), 1st  Edition, Published by Harvard Publishing Company, 1893, Harvard University, Massachusetts.
  • Ortega y Gasset’s biography:
  • Edward Sarmiento, Blackfriars Vol. 31, No. 365 (AUGUST 1950), pp. 356-363 (8 pages). Published By: Wiley.
  • A Bibliography of Works in English By and About José Ortega y Gasset
  • Fundación José Ortega y Gasset Spain (in Spanish)
  • Fundación José Ortega y Gasset Argentina (in Spanish)
  • Holmes, Oliver, “José Ortega y Gasset”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
  • Newspaper clippings about José Ortega y Gasset in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW

    “Memories of Herta”

    January 6, 2022


    Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

    In the summer of 1975 I took a painting-studio workshop under Herta’s instruction at the University at Buffalo: from that time evolved the bonds of our friendship. Herta’s wisdom came from her own vibrancy; her curiosity seemed boundless. She would explore various new subjects, from computer art to Japanese calligraphy. All this enhanced her as an artist. As a teacher dealing with students, she had little patience, and many of them felt intimidated by her demands. Most memorably, she taught me that an artist had to evoke the meaning lurking behind every image. Art was not a progressive evolution; nothing was new: everything had already been done; the imperative was to make something of significance.

    Herta identified with the stories I shared about my family, and especially about my mother. She also told me stories about her own parents, particularly about how much she admired her father. Through the years, Herta’s loyalty was constant. She was as nurturing as a mother. Being 26 years older than I, she wondered why I wanted to spend so much time with her. I responded people of my age bored me.

    The last semester of my junior year, Herta invited me to lunch with her husband Ernest, a cardiologist at the Veteran Administration Hospital next to the university. That morning, some students had set a fire outside my door. I called the university police but I accused no one. Later I told Herta what had happened. She and her husband assured me every thing would be fine. That afternoon we listened to the music of Handel and Brahms, talked about the poetry of mathematics, and discussed the polemics of anthropology of art. That night I did not return to my dormitory room, but stayed with a Polish graduate student of architecture: Jurek Pystrak invited me to stay with him until things were sorted out. Little did I know how significant Herta and Jurek were to become.

    While studying for finals, someone I didn’t know introduced himself to me. It seemed he had been my bodyguard since the time of the fire in the dorm. I never found out why he was surveilling me. Later Herta commented: “… the university must have taken stock of how lax its security system was.”

    After I went off to Yale for graduate studies and Jurek had moved to Berlin, Herta and I stayed in touch. Sometimes we met in Manhattan and would go to museums and galleries. After having finished my studies at Yale, I worked as a stage designer in Manhattan. In 1988 I visited Herta in Buffalo. Her husband Ernest had died two years prior. Herta and I went to the opening performance of Abingdon Square by María Irene Fornés (1930-2018) at the Studio Arena Theater. That night Herta and I had the opportunity to speak with her (I had executed stage-designs for three of her plays, which had premiered in New York City). Again in 1989, I visited Herta in Buffalo; there we attended a retrospective by the painter Seymour Drumlevitch, who had been both of ours academic advisor, artistic mentor, and friend.

    In 1992, Herta came to my first one-man show of paintings in Manhattan. Though I did not see her then, we kept in touch by phone. Jurek’s partner Karl in Berlin told Herta that Jurek had died of AIDS in 1984. This came to both of us as a shock; it explained why we had not heard from Jurek for eight years. Herta was instrumental in connecting us to Jurek’s past. Karl then visited my painting studio in Tribeca. Afterwards, he invited Herta to a river cruise for a night on the Rhine to commemorate his impending death (he had dismissed my optimism about antiretroviral treatments as a missionary sentimentality). I had told Herta his outlook was totally fatalistic.

    When I firtst met Herta, I intuited that she was struggling with depression. I learned later much of her search for affection h
    ad been uncorresponded. Her husband was also battling depression, having attempted suicide had it not been for his wife. Herta then looked after him through a long period of illness. After his death her circle of friends shrank. She thought herself unwelcome by other couples. In those years Herta was alone and riddled with guilt. Bewildered, she would knock at my door late at night, long past midnight, asking for support. Now in the 1990’s our roles were reversed: she was coming to my aid. Herta fed my optimism and helped me recover from the suicide of my partner of three years.

    Then, in the spring of 2005, Herta met David, my partner of five years. As I walked to the avenue to help her catch a taxi, she told me that she only wished she had met some one like David for herself. Her statement did not surprise me, though we were touching each other’s past just on the edges. I understood that David reminded her of her desire to have met, during her lifetime, someone as sensitive as he.

    In May 2008 David and I attended Herta’s 80th birthday party in Philadelphia. We met the entire family, including her grandchildren. Prior to that, Herta had often confided to me her insecurities about being a grandmother. She doubted how her grandchildren and son-in-law perceived her; whether she was accepted by them. She was self-conscious of her German accent, though she would glorify it as an appealing distinction. Although, these were significant years for Herta, the burden of a new life weighted heavily on her mind.

    In 2011 my mother died from Alzheimer’s at age 84. During the preceding years I had mentioned to Herta that I used to call my mother in Venezuela to read to her “Don Quixote.” From time to time my mother would react with guttural sounds, which I took for affirmations of laughter. During these conversations, I began to become aware of Herta’s own difficulties in her perception of reality. She became easily agitated. She often felt misunderstood. She repeated past events, as if they were taking place now. I listened quietly, hoping she could regain her calm. I tried to interest her in other matters. Was this why she told me that it was important for us to be in contact? Thereafter I tried to call her until it was no longer feasible. After what seemed to be a long period of silence, her daughter Vivien called to let me know that Herta needed 24-hour a day care. David and I drove from Manhattan to visit her in Pennsylvania. In 2016 she was still able to talk. I thought she remembered me until our parting, when she said how nice it had been to meet me.

    During our visit, Herta appeared alert. After we had shown her pictures of our place in Fort Lauderdale, she had made several whimsical remarks. Brashly, she criticized cushions that looked like doughnuts, and were completely out of place. Her wit was as sharp as ever. She even recounted her recommendations for graduate school, in which—to my horror—she had called me of the caliber of Leonardo da Vinci. The point is she relished being controversial.

    The summer before her death, Herta was much more limited in movement and speech; she seemed listless, though she smiled often in what appeared to be simple resignation. In our banter with each other, she scowled and rolled her eyes mischievously glancing at everyone. We grinned at each other and she gasped with glee. Following this, Herta gestured, her hands around her mouth, as if asking why did I need a moustache. Then I showed her one of my geometric paintings. She looked at it, raised her brows, opening her eyes wide, and said “GOOD!" I was moved by her approval. She looked to be in command. As she continued savoring vanilla ice cream, she played aimlessly with her spoon, but she refused to let anyone help. When we said good-bye, we mentioned we would return in the spring, and she vouchsafed with the same facial expression, “GOOD!"

    Memories about the loss of a loved one are painful, precisely because we have loved them. Accepting their past with humility is the one and only choice for their loss. It is an absolute; we embrace our existence through their memories. Grief is the time to endure suffering with forbearance.

    Written by Ricardo Morin and edited by Billy Bussell Thompson

    Herta Lager Kane

    December 29, 2021



    Edited by Billy Bussell Thompson



    Herta Lager Kane (1928-2021) was born in Vienna.  With her family, she came to New York City in 1941–via Switzerland–fleeing Nazi persecution.

    Herta began her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, School of Art and Architecture, before obtaining a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University at Buffalo.  

    Photo provided by Herta’s daughter Vivien Kane

    Herta began her career as an adjunct professor of Painting in the University at Buffalo, and then spent most of her life as an associate professor of graphic design in the State University College at Buffalo. Herta’s paintings on the plasticity of geometric abstractions as well as her refined constructivist drawings have been exhibited at Buffalo’s Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and various alternative local cooperatives dedicated to video research and development for theater and television.

    In her work Herta searched for a new direction in the depiction of pictorial space, resulting from the great legacy of our mentor Seymour Drumlevitch. In her own words, Herta aspired to arrive at the power “… of a mystical ambiguity and elusiveness.”



    An Elegy


      Herta always had a generous warmth for and a profound insight into humanity.  Even when we were most fragile, in our moments of trouble, we did not have to say much to assure each other that everything would be fine; even in silence, we supported one another with a sense of wonderment, at times even with great humor.
    From the time when I first met Herta in 1975, as a painting instructor in the University at Buffalo, she shared her wealth of knowledge and always provided encouragement.  She looked after my well-being until she was no longer able.  Our friendship attested to the fact that no one has control over his destiny, though our love persisted beyond such boundaries.
    Herta’s confidence—in the labors of becoming a visual artist and surviving the myriad uncertainties of a professional career—enabled my finding answers to managing whatever fate provided.
    Her humanity, dignity, and intelligence were a fountain of inspiration for all of us, who had the good fortune of knowing her.  More than a mentor Herta became a loving and loyal friend.  No one else could fill her place in my heart.  
    Herta and I had strong bonds.  I owe her my standing, not only emotional maturity but also my intellectual development.  Without her, I would be different; to her I owe the inspiration of authenticity and thoughtfulness.





    In Memoriam Herta Lager Kane




           Fate and chance drew out of our tears a smile 
    and brought solace to our failures;
    then we looked up after we'd sunk
    with the confidence 
    of climbing back.
           In loneliness
    we found for ourselves company,
    and in helping others, we were helped.
    In our pursuit of the impossible good,
    we came to know our failures.
           In the brevity of each moment,
    nothing seemed to fit for being possessed;
    when we marveled at the great arc of time,
    this never died,
    even in the absence of hope.
           The ups and downs from the goddesses, the three Moirai and Tyche,
     in their dispensation of favors and troubles,
     couldn’t keep us from moving on,
     even if we met each other and were
     hopelessly aware of our imperfections.


    Ricardo F Morin, December 29, 2021, coauthored by Billy Bussell Thompson




    Herta’s Art


    Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 49 5/8 7/8″ x 50″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection 2002


    Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), Painting entitled “Untitled”, c. 1980, Acrylic on Canvas, diptych, 57 7/8″ x 37 5/8″, Gift of the artist to the Burchfield Penny Art Center Collection, 2002.


    Herta Kane, American artist born in Austria (1928-2021), work on paper entitled “Untitled”, Acrylic and collage on paper, 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978 to the Burchfield Penny Arts Center Collection, 1978.


    Herta Lager-Kane (1928-2021) American artist born in Austria, work on paper, “Untitled”, 1978; acrylic and felt tip pen on drafting paper, 10″ x 21″, Gift of the Arts Development Services, Inc., 1978.

    In Tenebris

    December 11, 2020

    Coauthored by Billy Bussell Thompson


    In memoriam José Galdino: my father.



    I share with the reader my utmost sincere gratitude to Billy Bussell Thompson, PhD in Linguistics, Professor Emeritus at Hofstra University, who has been a lifelong mentor, editor, and closest friend. I also express my deep appreciation for the nuance of sensitive and perceptive editing contributed by both, my perspicacious sister Bonnie Morín, playwright, producer and director of the Madrid Method Workshop in Spain (, and by her daughter, the talented niece Natalia Velarde (@nix.conbotas), graphic artist and author. I also give thanks for a much awaited reunion with her other daughter, the unequaled niece Camila Velarde, Lic. in philosophy and choreography. Last, I thank my dear husband David Lowenberger, whom I consider to be the most influential in every aspect of my life. Their perception and wisdom served as inspiration and guide for the realization of this short story.

    Ricardo F. Morin T., 21 February 2021



    Choking On One’s Own Saliva

    My father once said how dismal his life would be were his identity lost to the orthodoxy of religion. It was no coincidence that, in reaction to the pieties of five generations, my father was to become a criminologist. For most of his life, he thought that the traditional stories about complementary retribution, binary belief in reward and condemnation, were fantasies, harmless until they became radicalized as replacements for inquiry. As a young man he based his own doctoral dissertation on such principles. Unfortunately, those convictions he deemed delusional were ultimately his own at the end of his life.

    I think that, except for the instigation of violence through the search for meaning and its attachment to fiction, whether the violence arises from retribution or self-preservation, a person has no reason to become fearful or destructive. The only remedy to violence is knowing the difference between fantasy and reality.

    As I reflected on my own father’s contradictions, I remembered what he had told me when I was a child, that lying was a survival skill. It enabled a person to hide himself in secrecy, not necessarily out of moral incompetence. It arose either from charity or from the fear of being judged. For him lying was part of becoming a competent adult. It was a way to hide imperfections and vulnerabilities. However, if sincerity or honesty were to threaten my father’s survival, it would be because he wanted rather to invent a story instead of looking into his ignorance and diminished understanding of his own importance. Was it natural for him to hide behind lies, or was it his own hubris? Perhaps he was choking on his own saliva during his entire life. He suffered from the delusion that he could avoid truth, or that he could control not facing up to it. Was this a fear of loosing control? Was that a reason why he could not find self-understanding? The mystery was centered not in his self-questioning, but in his fictionalizing his own life, no differently from our forebears.


    Gangs of West Harlem


    The Process

    For the third time I was serving on jury duty. As on previous occasions, I introduced myself as a visual artist during the voir dire. This time the defense lawyer inquired if I was a portraitist. I reasoned to myself the question was intended to probe the degrees of observation a painter aspired to. I replied that my interest as a visual artist was in the conceptual processes of abstract art, no different from that of a portraitist or any other representational painter, seeking to observe and interpret the essence of a subject. What I chose to represent through abstraction or conception was just as concrete as that of a sitter for a portraitist.


    The Rules

    The trial concerned the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy, and I was selected juror number 12. Previously, I served on civil cases. In civil cases, the preponderance of the evidence is the determining principle. In a criminal trial, the ruling principle is the measure of reasonable doubt. The rules were cautionary and aimed to avoid bias on the part of the jury. In their deliberations jurors were to concentrate on the evidence presented and not on background. Also jurors were not to share information with other people outside of their own forum. I did not know how my participation in a murder trial would affect me. The day after the trial began, juror number 11 was replaced by an alternate.

    Testimony lasted 17 days. During that time our electronic devices, cell phones, laptops, and tablets were allowed. On the 18th day, when jury’s deliberations started, these devices were taken away from us. Before this, we had been permitted to speak on matters not related to the trial. We were a diverse group and had very little in common. During court hearings, we had been allowed to take notes while we sat in the jury box. After the days’ proceedings, our note pads were left on our respective seats. When deliberations began, we could take our pads back and forth between the jury box and the jury room. Only then, were we able to study our notes and refer to our observations. Only then, could we begin to talk about the case with each other.


    The Jurors

    The foreman of the jury was an office manager, who felt comfortable in his role as moderator. His communication skills were excellent; even when he disagreed, his manner never expressed condescension. Some jurors were reticent and never voiced a judgment one way or the other. The youngest member of the jury did not find the witness of the crime unreliable. Other jurors were open minded. A teacher remained calm throughout; she listened to others before expressing her own views. Another juror was impatient about the length of the trial. She complained that she had a toddler to care for at home. Aside from myself, there were two other retirees, one of whom was a corporate lawyer, who reminded us of the distinction between civil and criminal cases. Reasonable doubt existed in varying degrees for every member of the jury, save for the youngest one.


    The Defendant: In dubio pro reo

    The defense lawyer had her client plead the fifth amendment. The accused gazed solicitously, with a kind of clawing eagerness. He looked seven years younger in his freshly starched white shirt and tie. His hair was a cropped Afro, and he had across his upper lip a straight mustache. His dress was conceived obviously to attest to his wholesomeness. Since the time of the murder, he has been a detainee at Rikers Island. Sitting barely 30 feet away from the jury, the accused bore a grin across his face whenever he looked towards the jurors. Some members of the jury interpreted his countenance as gloating. Others saw his expression as self pity or abjection, even an attempt at winning us over. His grin, a kind of twisted grimace, was unflappable and even disturbing to us. By the end, however, we dismissed our apprehensions. It was impossible to know whether the accused was remorseful or just trying to beguile us. More important, was the question of consistency. If doubt was to play a part in the case, it had to arise from the evidence. Key was whether the accused was a lone assailant or whether there might have been others involved. Certainty had to come from the assessment of facts, and not be based on appearances.


    The Prosecution

    The prosecution charged the defendant with “first degree” murder. This implied premeditation with malice aforethought. The prosecution added two other charges: murder in the “second degree,” suggesting lack of premeditation. The third charge was for felony murder: death caused during the commission of a felony using an illegal weapon and with extreme indifference to human life. Rendering judgment on these charges rested on intent. Each member of the jury would have to reach an approximation of the truth, and no other reasonable explanation could explain the evidence presented at the trial. The verdict, of course, would have to be unanimous. Proof of the direct involvement of the accused was paramount. The evidence had to show the accused had committed the crime. Was the victim’s death the result of self-defense or was it deliberate? The question before the jury was whether there were circumstances outside the control of the accused. How did his instincts and fears come into play with his own actions. Could the jurors differentiate all of these aspects?




    July’s weather was overbearingly hot. The air conditioning in the jury room was old and as inefficient as it was in the court room; the jury room was even more stifling than the courtroom, particularly between the long intervals of each day’s proceedings. The room was barely large enough for the long table and its 12 uncomfortable chairs. In this tight space it was almost impossible for the jurors to walk around, to go to the water-fountain, or even to the single restroom available. Lunch breaks were much appreciated. On the few days when there was a breeze, we could open the windows, but had to put up with street noise. In the court room, no such liberties were permitted


    By the third week of the proceedings, the judge began standing with his arms folded against his hips. With a baffled face, he would turn around and stand behind his chair, his black robe half unfurled, and his necktie loosened. At times, he assumed what seemed to be a meditative expression with both arms folded over the back of the chair. Other times, he supported himself with one of his elbows over the back of the chair. One of his hands was placed against his chin, giving him a certain look of abandon. For me, this informality broke up the monotony of the case, as if it were helping him stay awake, and mollified the stultifying heat.


    The aspects of this case had been under investigation for seven years. We, the jurors, were astonished at the lack of cohesion to the accusations. The statements by the witnesses in no way corresponded to the arguments made by the prosecutor. In fact, the prosecution’s case was stale. One wondered if there was any justification for this trial. The only merit to the case seemingly was using the authority of a jury trial to render a verdict, either for exoneration or conviction.


    According to testimony given by the police, the crime resulted from two rival gangs. The gang members’ ages ranged from 12 to 40. The defendant’s lawyer provided their pictures to the jury. The pictures showed them in expensive clothing. Both groups seemed to be showing off, as if they were the source of the neighborhood’s pride. Each group had its own hand signs as mottoes. According to the police, on the night of the murder the two gangs fought over their territory for the peddling of drugs. The defendant became the prime suspect two years into the investigation. According to one of the detectives, the defendant sought to intimidate younger members of the opposing gang, as a means of establishing his own authority over them. The defendant’s motive was said to be an attempt to sooth his own anger for being “dissed.” The jury found these to be speculative. For us the only facts credible were those of the struggle between them.


    The first eyewitness, aged 13 years at the time of the murder, was the centerpin of the prosecution’s defense. He had been a close friend of the victim, and his proximity to the deed made him valuable. During the course of several days of testimony, two officers escorted him in dressed in an orange jumpsuit, both hands and ankles shackled. They removed only his handcuffs when he sat down on the stand. From the defendant’s attorney, we learned that he had been in custody for two years on a different murder charge. The defendant’s attorney asked him: Are you here today in exchange for lenience for the indictment you face? He thrust his arms and shoulders forward. His answers seemed evasive while the prosecution objected. The question was withdrawn, but the jury would not forget it. His hand partly covered his face, especially his eyes and nose. His head shifted from side to side. He pointed to the defendant, rubbed his chin, and accused him of being the killer. Yet, his deportment was indiscernible and seemed manipulative. Obviously he had not seen from where the bullet had come. His allegations sounded implausible, as if they had been rehearsed. He had an air of entitlement, exuding hatred. During the prosecution’s examination, he revealed his conversion to Islam, and stated he had become a better person by the teachings of the Prophet. For the jury, however, his demeanor was that of an unrepentant malefactor. His lack of doubt hinted at a life of crime, without a sense of any morality.


    The prosecutor’s second witness spoke softly, yet his testimony seemed tentative. By his own account, he had been at the edges of the riotous horde. A circle had formed around the hooded individual and the victim. When questioned by the defense, he hesitated before admitting having seeing another armed buddy. But at the end, he relented. He recalled that other gang members had shot into the sky. He acknowledged that other guns had been used, thus accounting for multiple shells found by the police. The bullet, however, that pierced the victim’s heart was a mystery. The jury was at a loss as to what had gone on. Was it retaliation? Was it the shooter egging on accomplices? No answer was forthcoming, neither from this witness nor from the previous one.


    Even though, the defense attorney tried to unravel the credibility of the prosecutor’s two eyewitnesses, she tripped over her own words. Not unnoticed was her assertion that the gunman might have carried a gun inside the pocket of his hoodie. Since no one had yet claimed to having seen him draw a gun, her attention to this matter seemed out of place. Was she trying to negate the hooded man’s innocence, while at the same time admitting to her client’s involvement? Jurors never understood her purpose, since the identity of the person in the hood had never been made clear. For the defendant her digression was inconsequential. But not for the jury because it augmented our doubts. Nevertheless, the defense attorney rebutted the evidence gathered by the police.


    On the night of the murder, a pedestrian called the neighborhood foot patrol’s attention to a commotion on the street. The patrol did nothing until the police arrived in their cars and found the body of some one killed. The crowd around the victim had already dispersed and none of the neighbors willingly spoke of what they had seen. The jury was dismayed that the arrest warrant was issued two years after the event. The defense lawyer emphasized that, in the course of those two years, any witnesses’ recollection surely must have faded. She argued: “… just to be pointing a finger at an alleged culprit, out of a desire to seek closure, should not be deemed evidentiary in and of itself.”


    The Evidence

    We asked to see the video evidence before and after the shooting. Witnesses had stated that the defendant on the night of the murder had gone to a tenement looking for a gun, which was shared by all members of his gang. There were two cameras, both of which had restrictive angles of vision. The video was grainy: the product of low resolution security cameras. There was no sound and the imagery was choppy. The lobby camera showed someone descending the stairs to exit, wearing a baseball cap underneath a hoodie. Only his lips and chin were visible. The jury’s dilemma was how to identify the person. The woman with the child at home emphasized “…those features could have been any member of either gang.”

    The crime took placed at midnight. There was no traffic and the street was poorly lighted. For a second time, we examined the tape from the outside camera. We concentrated on the footage just before the shooting. It was murky and it showed the person in the hoodie stepping outside the building. The victim’s back was visible and his friend was behind him. There were several flashes of gun fire with one of them coming from next to the victim. A person in the hoodie faced the camera wielding a gun.

    Ballistic evidence showed that the trajectory of the bullet came from a short distance before it entered the body of the victim. Maybe the shot came from the position of the hooded man but this was only a guess. More importantly, no guns were ever recovered and we still did not know who the gunman was. In summary, the testimonies, the analysis, and the written accounts were all useless to us.


    The Community

    Jurors were in agreement that the accounts given by the two gangs and the community were not to be trusted. The two gangs lived in two adjacent blocks. Drug infested, the community had become their victim. Solidarity showed itself as hostility. Assault not only on the street but at home was rife. Mothers, brothers and, sisters commonly were attacked. The death rate was high, which in and of itself was evidence that this community was sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Teenagers commonly stole and murdered. Only the rare adolescent was exempt. No social program could help. We, as jurors, were we only agents of retribution?



    From the first days of deliberation, the jurors were uncertain if the accused had taken any part at all. On our fourth day, the young woman who had been most adamant about the guilt of the accused began to waver. Most jurors still thought him to be innocent, but four remained unconvinced. The more jurors accepted their own limitations, the more difficult it became to form an opinion. The phrase blind justice turned piercingly poignant.



    The majority argued with the four hold outs. Tensions rose with the thermometer. The heat of the midday, the humidity, and the noise from the street became increasingly unbearable. With the windows closed, we turned on the anemic air conditioner and became more fearful than ever of not measuring up to the task. Our disagreements put us on edge and were nerve racking. Slowly we moved towards common ground. One by one, concessions were made. By the time of the third vote, the foreman hesitantly voted against conviction. There were still three jurors holding strongly for conviction. We gave ourselves a minute of silence before voting again. The decision was unanimous innocent. Surprisingly, had we presented a wrongful conviction, or had we derailed the case?


    Announcing the Verdict

    Jurors summoned the guard and handed him a yellow manila envelope with the verdict. After we had returned to the court room, the judge polled us individually. Indelibly imprinted on us was the murdered child’s mother’s face. From the start she had sat alone on the back left corner of the court room. Her sorrow contrasted sharply with the defendant’s family. I felt wary of these families’ reactions. I was deflated, even felt inadequate, indeed insignificant. Knowledge here was slippery.

    An uproar reigned in the courtroom. The cries of the murdered child’s mother collided with the joy of the defendant’s family. Repeatedly, the judge admonished the room to be silent. He closed by thanking the jurors for their service, who were in a state of shock. Were we right or were we wrong?, I asked myself.


    The Randomness of Truth

    Chance dominated the jury’s participation. I recalled with fear my father’s imperative about hiding behind fiction as an instrument of self reliance.

    The jury broke up. The judge stared at us with a smile as we climbed down to the exit. We walked to where we had deliberated and collected our belongings. We moved to an elevator at the opposite end of the court house. Below, the family of the acquitted man awaited us and, as we approached, they shouted their deafening thanks. The corruption was now complete.



    Ended the theater of misalliance, jurors, the lawyers, and witnesses became actors in the absurd. Our verdict was uncertain: Lost of life and life was foremost. Society seems predetermined: Advantage and disadvantage are in confrontation. What a role do abandonment and darkness play in the human condition?, I pondered. It just seems as if indifference inflicts itself onto destiny.

    Ricardo F Morín T and Billy Bussell Thompson

    Metaphors of Silence

    November 24, 2010

    An artist’s Manifesto by Ricardo Morin: Viewing of his Jersey City art-studio where he engages with his paintings [2005-10]; some artworks are in progress and some are part of a recently finished hanging scroll series, entitled Metaphors of Silence.

    “Acts of Individual Talent”

    October 2, 2009
    Triangulation Series 225

    Triangulation Scroll Series Nº 225, 49 x 68 inches; oil on canvas; 2008

    Origins of Modern Western Aesthetics

    The concept of Aesthetics comes to us out of a wide variety of different traditions: from those of the West, the Chinese, the Japanese, the African, the Polynesian, and so forth. The Western traditions, of course, have different qualities from the others with regards to origins, to evaluative criteria, either in opposing or defending approaches to the making of art.

    From its beginnings Western aesthetic theory has developed in parallel with art criticism. The concept, however, of Aesthetics, but not the word, was first talked about by Joseph Addison (1672–1719), in a series of essays in The Spectator in 1712, as a “pleasure that is derived from the imagination.” Thus, pleasure forms the basis that will serve as the foundation of modern aesthetics. Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–62) most likely read Addison, and he sought to define Aesthetics as a science of that which is sensed or imagined in his master’s thesis Aesthetica, 2 Vol. (1750-58) at the Royal Prussian University in Halle. He coined the word for the German language; Aesthetics is derived from the New Latin aesthetica (the feminine adjective), and it is related to the Greek aesthetikos/aestheta (perceptible things) and related to the verb aesthetai (to perceive). Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), however, took issue with aesthetics as a science. Nonetheless, the term remained controversial, and it was not until much later in the 19th century when it was finally accepted in academic circles.

    Aesthetics is a specific valuation theory, or a distinct convention of what beauty is. It is an individualizing characteristic or a particular taste for, or an approach to, what is of interest to the intellect or pleasing to the senses: both visual or auditory (as in literature, the plastic arts, architecture, and music). By extension, the term Aesthetics may be applied to many varieties of human behavior–toilette, cosmetology, interior design, and so forth.

    For the avant-garde Aesthetics and Originality can be at odds with established social or political norms. Aesthetics, as valuation, is normative. Art criticism is the way in which the norms are established. Art criticism is transmitted both to collectors and to institutions (e.g., museums, in the case of the plastic arts and the market place, in the case of music and architecture).

    Although art criticism dates from antiquity, analyses of visual aesthetics or the plastic arts began as a journalistic effort. The art critic and the artist became mutually dependent, and what had once been new and refreshing by the closing of the 20th century, became academic, routine, and repetitive. Contemporarily, Harold Bloom (1930–2019) expressed that art criticism had become confused with questions of social justice and politics, and was no longer about the art product itself.

    Nothing, however, is really new; the concept of Aesthetics itself, as a means of expression, may be said to be a dominant force dating as far back to the origins of human cave paintings. At the turn of the 21st century, there no longer seems to exist an adherence to one current aesthetic or approach; art criticism now appears to evoke a wide variety of tendencies of the formal, moral, social, and spiritual.

    In the following excerpt, “Confessions of an ever emerging visual artist” from a YouTube and WordPress-audio-visual Manifesto entitled “Metaphors of Silence” (2010), I have given my own point of view[1], [2]:

    The usage which the visual arts serve is a complex demonstration of varying dimensions whose expression seeks not to explain meaning but to express its intent; to bring about a clearly independent act of interpretation, over which the artist exerts no control as creator. From this, arises the sublimity of the psychological condition that is partly visual delight and partly passion that renews and nourishes a spirit of partnership with the medium. The intent expresses one is what one perceives: i.e., it is a quality of energy and a temperament independent of the intellect, separate from the craft itself, and apart from the residue of the images.

    [1] Manifesto: Metaphors of Silence (

    [2] Autobiographical Statement: Ricardo Morin – Art – Paintings and Watercolors (


    Destruction of Ancestral Icons

    September 20, 2009

    The art of the hunter-gatherers, Australian Aborigines, since the early Seventies, has been disseminated, not solely from an anthropological point of view, but through its commercialization; thus disrupting the revelatory paradigm of concealment inherent to its culture.  As such the iconography from their rituals and bodily expressions of temporary characteristics, as well as from impermanent sand drawings—derived from communions with nature– has been translated onto a new protocol of objectification destined to paintings on boards or permanent murals on metal laminates, with the expressed intend to bridge the curiosity of an external audience: a process, which breaches confidentiality through its commodification as art objects.

    With a few exceptions, admittedly welcomed by its naive producers, the secrecy of ancestral iconography has been transferred into precious objects of acrylic paintings inevitably to be transgressed and purveyed among Western collectors and their publications; thus introducing a not-so-unexpected consequence for a dilemma. We refer to a dilemma that erodes the indigenous protocols of initiation, as the narrative of their imagery requires viewing and understanding of themselves. Evidently, it is not sufficient to isolate the undesirable Western dissemination from the eyes of the aborigines in the confluence of a global community.

    It is no longer possible to maintain the initiation rituals part of the cycle of their communal tribal powers while their objectified iconography becomes appropriated, or rather trapped between pecuniary bemusement and the attraction of a strange collector. In the effort to appropriate with the merits supposedly derived from admiration, an ancestral culture is corrupted with an external force that cements its adverse influence and dominance over their native communities rather than a mere preservation of the indigenous cultural acquis.

    A disruptive influence is imposed onto the fragile ecological balance of these cultures by the colonizing destructive powers brought forth by researchers and their acolytes, anthropologists and their funding institutions, collectors and their propagandist entourages, as well as insensitive local governments who are so hungry for international attention, perhaps in a misunderstood concept of atonement for their colonizing powers.


    Sept 20, 2009

    Cape Cod 2009

    September 9, 2009


    On a bright sunny day with temperatures in the mid 70’s, we rambled through the trails surrounding a delta-like Long Pond, after which came the much larger adjoining Mashpee and Wakeby Ponds, first in the morning sun, before lunch, and then in the cooler afternoon from 3 o’clock. On the shores, we saw men and women with their pets at water-play.

    The clearing views, unforgettable in the midst of the surrounding forests, were bathed by sun light. They blended verdant patterns rivaling those of timid Gothic structures made by man’s effort to imitate nature. Emerald moss-covered roots stepped up into translucent tunnels where we were led by random colonnades buttressing airy canopies. Freshly aromatic air filled to the exhilaration of the errant heart through gullies and groves; in peace with the rhythm of my accompanying soul.

    Platonic Scroll Series 2009

    August 6, 2009

    Platonic Series #99, 2009

    Platonic Scroll Series #99, 2009

    The aesthetic beauty and symmetry of the Platonic Solids have made them a favorite subject of geometers for thousands of years. They are named for the ancient Greek philosopher Plato who theorized that the classical elements were constructed from five regular solids: the dodecahedron, icosahedron, octahedron, hexahedron and tetrahedron–there are no other possible regular polyhedrons. The 92 Johnson Solids are irregular polyhedrons which, as the Platonic Solids, are also made out of triangles, squares and pentagons.

    The Platonic Scroll Series serve as analogy to our inter-connectivity and the imponderable quality of harmony that unify us.  It is to be noticed that there is no set manner as to how these manifestations may be perceived by any observer. Our reality is ever so much more interesting than any image representing it or anything that can be explicated.

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