“People whom fate and their sin-mistakes have placed in a certain position, however false that position may be, form a view of life in general which makes their position seem good and admissible. . . . This surprises us when the persons concerned are thieves bragging about their dexterity, prostitutes vaunting their depravity, or murders boasting of their cruelty. But it surprises us only because the circle, the atmosphere, in which these people live, is limited, and chiefly because we are outside it. Can we not observe the same phenomenon when the rich boast of their wealth-robbery, when commanders of armies pride themselves on their victories-murder, and when those in high places vaunt their power-violence? That we do not see the perversion in the views of life held by these people, is only because the circle formed by them is larger and we ourselves belong to it.” (Resurrection, Leo Tolstoy, trans. Louise Maude)

New Readers:

Please start reading with my first post "A Cup of Coffee". Originally posted on March 19, the archival date changed when I made corrections on May 13, which is the date under which you can find it now.

I'll learn to manage this all more smoothly someday, but at present I have at most only an hour online each day (that thanks to the San Francisco Public Library system, without which I would be lost).

Friday, March 29, 2013


Saturn, God of boundaries and limitations, turned retrograde on February 18.

Don’t count on your luck.

Even though you may be one of those people for whom traffic lights turn green as you approach them, or someone for whom buses materialize at bus stops just as you get there, know that your luck has ended.

Saturn, not merely a God but a Titan, now slips backward in the sky, retracing his recent steps. This isn’t just a time (as your optimistic therapist might say) to “Be aware of your limitations and respect the boundaries that you and others have erected.” Between now and July 8th, you will come to know your mortality and your fallibility. You will feel necessity bind you, its wires wrapped tight around your shoulders and on down around the rest of your body, all the way down to your feet, your legs squeezed together and your arms pinned stiff and straight down your sides, like Saturn bound by his rings..

This is not “Close your eyes and trust the Force, Luke”: this is Keep your eyes open and your wits about you because Force is closing in all around you. No more lucky breaks. No more reasoning with authority. No exceptions. No excuses. No escapes.

You will do well to learn patience and persistence.

And, as always, “You’ll all do well to learn politics, or I’ll lay your soul to waste.”


It is coming down out there. I don’t mean that it is raining. I am talking about the cold.

When you live in San Francisco, you are reminded every day that the North Pacific is a very big -- and very cold -- neighbor. Even on the sunniest days, when you might actually find yourself sweating as you hurry along Market Street, about to be late for some appointment, or as you break into a trot to make the bus that is just then reaching the intersection, hoping you catch it so you won‘t be late for work, even then, when you are sweating, if you step into the smallest bit of shade you feel the deep chill.

The second you are out of the direct blast of solar radiation, under a tattered awning perhaps or just in the meager shade of a barren winter tree, the air grabs you and reminds you that a vast, close-to-freezing body of water begins maybe a mile or two from where you stand and from there extends for five thousand unbroken miles beyond, a power immense, indifferent, and inescapable.

Tonight, after a number of unseasonably -- even scarily -- warm days and balmy nights, Winter has risen up again and stands towering above us, a sentry at the dark gates of the Pacific night. The wind swirling around Him bites. Your ears and your hands hurt after just a few short blocks.

I walked no more than five blocks tonight, but in every block those who sleep on the sidewalk were already hunkered down. Blankets, quilts, sleeping bags, cardboard or paper, any covering at hand, shrouded not only their bodies but their heads as well. It was early, before nine o’clock, but every one of them was already wrapped up tight, breathing and re-breathing the stale air caught within their thick cocoons.

I remembered the warmth of that damp, exhaled air, thinking back to times in my youth when I went camping high in the Sierra or out by the sea, keeping my breath wrapped close around me in defense against the bitterly cold air under the impossibly crowded sky of stars.

What stars you can see in The City these days can be counted on your fingers, our ambient light blocking out the heavens. And even though we blind ourselves to them, the Gods and Titans still rule there. Even though we do not look to them, or even see them, they nevertheless continue to wheel across the heavens, with their “disinterested, hard energy.” Nothing we here below can do will block out the descending cold.

You who stand in the dark, upholding the icy stars and allowing the sea’s menace, watch over those who are not housed tonight, keep them -- Your frail and harmless creatures -- through this night. They did not ask for any of it. Dare not to let harm befall them.

And let not one of us who are housed tonight think that you are not also out there, feeling your own weight press your bones against the hard concrete and feeling the freezing night itself pressing down from above.

We are all out in the cold.

We are all far from home.