Monday, July 7, 2014


Gentle Reader,

What you’ll find below is an upside-down anthology of sorts: a journal of my frequent morning musings from January 2008 till now, in reverse order.

Much of what I write here is verse in traditional rhymed iambic pentameters, old fashioned in form but contemporary in topics and idiom. It asks to be read aloud so that the effects of rhyme and meter may be felt.

Sometimes I write brief prose essays, but even my verses are essays, or attempts, pursuing a line of thought to some conclusion, though more sonorously than those in prose: discursive verses, I call them.

In either case, you’re the reader over my shoulder as I write, which makes my writing different than when I have no audience in mind but only a vague urge to express. So I thank you for whatever attention you give my words and thoughts and feelings because you might so easily attend to something else, and you soon will.

To beguile you to linger longer, though, I’ve coupled most of my compositions with a photo or image I’ve taken or borrowed, which often corresponds with my words of that day.

Thank you for visiting here.  I hope you enjoy your stay and are moved to come back soon.

—Alan Nordstrom

* * *

“I BELIEVE that in our good days a well-ordered mind has a new thought awaiting it every morning.  And hence, eminently thoughtful men, from the time of Pythagoras down, have insisted on an hour of solitude every day, to meet their own mind and learn what oracle it has to impart.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Inspiration”

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        A Global Wisdom Culture will entail
        a full critique of all the ways we fail
        by principles and practices both sane
        and prudent, calculated to sustain
        a thriving biosphere and elevate
        the consciousness of all, setting us straight
        about the wisest ways we should behave,
        devised to liberate and not enslave.

        But as things are, our race remains enthralled
        to values that must now be overhauled,
        foremost of which in our new consciousness
        is our determination to own less
        and simplify our lives so all may share
        sufficiently, for nothing else is fair.


Sunday, July 6, 2014


for Copthorne Macdonald

    The quest for knowledge, one might well surmise,
    Is highest education’s highest aim,
    And yet one higher—that of growing wise—
    Makes an imperative and vital claim.

    Though learning all the truth of what may be—
    The what, the where, the when, the how, the why—
    Is a foundational necessity,
    It’s value that must finally apply,

    Which is the realm that wisdom comprehends:
    The judgment of what’s laudable and apt,
    Discerning what serves best the highest ends
    By which our errant species may adapt.

         Acquire first the knowledges we need,
         Yet realize: it’s wisdom will succeed.



   I think my sometimes muddled memory
   Is the price I have to pay for poetry
   I write by rummaging in my mind’s hoard,
   Deranging all to find the aptest word.
   Each rhyming sound my memory supplies
   Should seem inevitable yet still surprise.
   Such seeming ease means I must wrack my brain,
   Which suffers afterwards from undue strain,
   Refusing to serve up some needed fact
   No matter how importunately wracked.
   The only help is to relax and wait
   Until the strain and agony abate.
        Though writing poems may my brain abuse,
        That is a sacrifice I’ll yield my Muse.


Saturday, July 5, 2014


     We’re brainwashed and addicted to our stuff,
     Induced to feel we never have enough,
     When what we need to do is simplify
     Our lives, reduce our needs and only buy
     The true necessities: good goods that last,
     Not bought in emulous fear of being out-classed
     Or motivated by unseemly greed:
     Goods only meant to serve a vital need.

     Why not indulge?  Why not acquire and splurge
     If you’ve the means to gratify each urge?
     Because the Earth cannot supply demands
     Of bursting populations in all lands
     With unchecked motivation to consume:
     For that way lies this glorious planet’s doom.


Friday, July 4, 2014


     All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee; 

     All Chance, Direction, which thou canst not see; 
     All Discord, Harmony, not understood; 

     All partial Evil, universal Good: 

     And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite, 
     One truth is clear, "Whatever IS, is RIGHT."

                        —Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man”

     “Whatever IS is RIGHT,” we might believe
     If such belief could cause us less to grieve,
     If pain and loss were part of God’s kind plan
     To demonstrate His love and care for man;
     Yet for such anguish there is no recompense,
     And human suffering has been immense
     Throughout all history: it is the norm
     To which all mortal creatures must conform,
     But most especially men, with memories
     Of personal and general agonies.
     The more we learn, the more we see our plight:
     Whatever is that’s evil is not right
     Nor rationalizable as God’s great plan:
     One cannot justify such ways to man.



by Nichols Maxwell

We need to promote awareness of just how important it is to transform universities so that they come to seek and promote wisdom, and not just acquire knowledge as at present—wisdom being the capacity, the active endeavour and the desire to realize (apprehend and create) what is of value in life, for oneself and others, wisdom thus including knowledge but much more besides. 

We urgently need our institutions of learning to be devoted to helping us resolve our conflicts and problems of living, including global problems, in increasingly cooperatively rational ways, so that we may begin to make progress towards as good a world as possible. 

What we have at present, universities devoted primarily to the pursuit of knowledge, is damagingly irrational.  The extraordinarily successful pursuit of scientific knowledge has led to much of great benefit: it has made the modern world possible.  It has led to modern industry and agriculture, modern medicine and hygiene, which in turn have led to all our current global problems: population growth, immense differences in wealth and power around the globe, destruction of natural habitats and mass extinction of species, the lethal character of modern war, pollution of earth, sea and air and, most serious of all, the impending disasters of climate change. 

We urgently need an academic revolution so that the pursuit of knowledge becomes a part of the more fundamental task to help humanity learn how to tackle problems of living in increasingly effective, intelligent and humane ways.

Why is this important?

We face grave global problems.  Climate change may become a threat to civilization.  There is no more important task confronting humanity than to learn how to tackle our problems of living - including our global problems - in wiser, more effective ways than we do at present.  For that, in turn, we require our institutions of learning, above all our universities, to be rationally designed and devoted to the task.  At present, they are not.

Transforming universities so that they become devoted to helping us make progress towards as good a world as possible is the single most important thing that we need to do as far as the long-term interests of humanity are concerned.