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By The Hand of Prune


These are the Writings and pictures of Paul Nathanael Berland.

Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Paul Nathanael Berland.


MIT (1989)

A swarming wooden structure commands an elevated expanse of dark loose gravel and chopped pavement.  The desolate hill is surrounded by four painted walls and a painfully vast white sky.  Moving through the field of rock, the building draws near: wood beams outline its giant box-like form; within: thousands of wooden beams mill about, carried by racing workers, bouncing from each other, to and fro, carrying out some frenetic purpose, in a mindless chaotic scramble.  I am here to join them.

Cosmic Joe (1990)








Dancing (1991)

Dancing is like going for a swim

in the air ---

oops I meant

in the music

and time....

Dancing is just an excuse not to sit down




Red Spring (1990)

Nametags (1992)

When red space monsters ride blue motorcycles through green tunnels

do little green rocky things sprout blue stalks bearing red fruits

or should blue objects wearing red clothing and green features

with green nametags bearing blue letters with red shading

send parameterized messages to object-oriented polling systems

while hash tables parse token lists of tagged pointers to

mutable data structures in modeless piped environments

while prioritized threads of execution output to stream

devices representing virtual machines running in parallel

with generalized algorithm-determined performance benchmarks?

Doris (1992)

The steps to Doris are clothed in platinum

a chute bethroned by stairs

steps into the underworld

in chambers vast and lifeless

Bedecadent by wreathes of webs

Asplendorous by rotting mushrooms

dead animals dying insects

Welcome to Doris.




Excerpt from "The Big Question" (1989)

Jethro: "...I know every living being has its own goals...but...for what purpose were we brought into existence?"

Fritz: "...If you believe in God, then we were created simply to amuse Him...."

Jethro: "...what if there is no rational being who brought life forth to accomplish some task?  Then we were put satisfy some law of physics....such as conservation or thermodynamics."

And as Jethro sat there, ...he heard a dull thump beside him.  Startled, he looked over to see a big apple tree.  On the ground in mushy chaos were apples.  "What a mess," he thought dimly, "someone ought to go clean it up."

Philosophy of Good and Evil (1989)

1. Life is the most valuable thing.

2. Life is greater than the sum of its parts.

3. Good is to create; evil is to destroy.

4. There is good in all things.

5. It is easier to destroy than to create.

6. "Nature" is good; "Nature" is God.

7. Forces in the universe are neither good nor evil.

8. There cannot be good without evil, creation without destruction.

9. "Nature" (God) has given Man much power.

10. All power comes with responsibility.

11. Power is the ability to change.

12. Time is our temporary gift, as is life, with which we are blessed.

13. The ultimate evil is murder (destruction of life).

14. The ultimate good is creation of life.

15. Comfort and enjoyment and happiness can be derived from good or evil.

16. Happiness derived from good is "true happiness".

17. Happiness derived from evil is "selfishness".

18. "Nature" (God) "fights" evil and entropy with the powers of lots of time, evolution, and creation.

19. God cannot (or will not) destroy; God is purely good.

20. Man's power to destroy is becoming overwhelming.

What is Evil? (1990)

If you cast a molecule into the sun, is that evil?

If you cast a rock into the sun, is that evil?

If you cast a mountain into the sun, is that evil?

If you cast a moon into the sun, is that evil?

If you cast Mercury into the sun, is that evil?

If you cast a fly into the sun, is that evil?

If you kill a fly, is that evil?

How about a living cell?  Bacteria?

A rat?  A tiger?  A monkey?  A tree?

A blade of grass?  A forest?  A cucumber?

Does a rat have a soul?  A monkey?  A dog?  A man?

Is it evil to destroy a planet, a race, a galaxy?

If we have souls, is there after life?

If so, why are we here?

Is it evil for God to send me to Hell?

Do animals go to heaven and hell?

JUSTICE (1990)

Justice - the punishment of injustice.

Injustice - the violation of another's rights.

To be just - to be very careful not to violate another's rights.

Some rights are more important than others and to be just sometimes involves weighing the injustices caused by justice.

Insects (1991)

If there is justice for animals, will there be justice for insects?  "No preposterous"...

Philosophy of Virtue (1991)

The virtuous act is that which is good for society.  The act of vice is that which is bad for society.  What is good or bad for society is that which improves or degrades the state of humanity.  The state of humanity is the sum total of the evaluation of the condition of every human being at every point of time from now until infinity.  The motive to improve the state of humanity for the moralist is a love of humanity.  For the non-moralist, the motive is reinforced with justice.  Justice cannot possibly always work, but if enough moralists exist, the overall system will work.  The true moralist should be impelled to work outside of justice and change the justice.  The system today lacks the required number of moralists and the state of humanity is uncertain.

Individual and Society (1991)

I think that it may be the case in our particular society that the advantage to the individual is statistically more often the opposite of what society expects of the individual in a given situation.  The reason why this is usually false in most societies is that the individual human being does not, and probably cannot, acquire the knowledge or power to steer his/her own course most advantageously, which is the reason why society and civilization is such a good idea.  However it is those people who steer (call them blind) courses off the beaten path that create and destroy our present and future as a society.

Freedom (1991)

One problem with most simple (as in based upon fundamental axioms of good and bad, pleasure and pain as universally qualifiable) idealistic beliefs is that they are based on a static (time independent) view of the human condition.  For an extreme example, Christianity's axiomatic Heaven and Hell depend on a hypothesized condition of eternal bliss (static throughout time) or eternal punishment (static also).

The most important thing, though, that I want to say is that if you discover a particular truth, and it sucks, remember the dynamic nature of things and realize that that truth is only one possible configuration of things which tomorrow and then the next day will begin to change into something else (if at least only your conception of it).

Philosophy, Religion, and Paradox (1991)

(6) Philosophy is actually the shedding of knowledge (conducted properly).  Therefore, (7) all these things are actually false (the Victorian 11th commandment) including this statement.  (8) Only paradoxes stand a chance of being completely true. (ie. God and the devil) (9) Religion is the calculus of paradox.

Judgment (1992)

THE LAW OF PASSIVITY --- No single judgment can encompass all possible outcomes.  Therefore do not rely on any one judgment too heavily, especially when that judgment imposes on others that have done well in the past.

THE LAW OF ACTIVITY --- Be always in some phase of judgment production.  New judgments will always be necessary in this world.





Infinity (1989)

Limit as x approaches infinity calm equals harmony.

Limit as x approaches infinity obnoxious equals evil.

Limit as x approaches infinity cool equals calm and obnoxious.


Stoned (1990)

I'm stoned

snapshots recurating

tick tock

smiling, blinking

women want inflated egos

depressive snobbery

out of touch with reality


I be hangin with older people,

for some status

I'm a worm

All I want is respect

not love?

I want love but my demands are

too high

I am evolutionary up from

previous race

I think I'm so hot because

of my creativity

and precocious social prowess

in earlier years

and because I'm smart ("wise")

I'm too proud I'll eat myself

before lowering respect for myself

that's why I lie, drugs, etc.

....Proud: want of respect

....oh paper just flew in

....Women want foundless confusion/courage.

And asking that question means you are not humble.

Humble=unsensitive.  You are sensitive.

You can read body language, moods, souls?  Yes.

....Proud people self-destruct.

....You must be more humble and less self-destructive.

....Your soul sensitivity is just a fraud it's pride or delusion that makes you blind.  You think other people think like you do.

....Maybe I should look for dominant women.  But dominant want submission with humility.  That would be a cool combo.  You'd get a lot of respect then.  You're so proud that you want to be humble to gain more pride.

....You've got to stop sliding down path of least resistance or I will kill myself.  Fight your own pride. Oh shit I'm stoned.  Fight your vices....

I got to survive in the real world.

No more childish pride.

So I must become virtuous.

....Hopefully you'll become humble and receive further enlightenment....

Pleasure and Pain of the Soul (1990)

My clock was reading pi and my stereo was bouncing tunes as I staggered about the floor looking for a moment that time forgot.  Then I became a planet....  The rest of the time is raw pain....  There is no cure.  I accept the pain I call my soul, for as long as I must live....

Karma (1991)

Sometimes me and these VAX things down here in the basement of building 4 get down to some serious business and the karma flows like zillions of tiny electronic bumble-bees.  But sometimes I walk in here and I can feel the karma is dangerously low, and the computer crashes and crashes and crashes.

Open/Closed Mind (1991)

Keep an open mind and lose your knowledge keep a closed mind and live happily....From babyhood, life is one great struggle to close your mind.

Chair, Crickets, and Fridge (1991)

Why is it that this damn chair has a metal back, while all my other goddamn chairs have cushions and this one is the one I always sit in when I'm not wearing a shirt?  Couldn't someone have invented a method of writing that wasn't so slow compared to thinking?  Maybe I should learn short hand.  This is Paul.  This is Paul on eggs.  Do crickets ever really start and stop chirping?  Maybe they're always there and we just notice every once in a while.  Maybe chirping crickets means that it's time to eat, kind of like an auxiliary backup system when stomach growling doesn't work.  Hey you, fridge.  Stupid fridge started humming at me.  Humming fridge, crickets or locusts or something, cars, a damn fan somewhere like across the street.  Katie yelling down the hallway.  Hmm, I could get up, step over the green chair, step on the green chair, then on to the rug, then walk over to my fridge, which just now stopped humming.  I could also change the record if I did that.  But I'm much more uncomfortable in this damn metal chair and my back is starting to groan.  My stereo just clicked at me.  So did my dresser (it creaked).  Maybe I could get up, get a shirt, then flip the record, and then get something to eat.  But then I might hear people outside my door like I'm doing now and go to sleep.

Food, Life, and Points (1991)

Yo Mr. Diary --- too much talk about food because you think its funny for some reason and not enough about what I did with my life while I was here on Earth surrounded by trees and plants who struggled every day in each of their own personal epics and all I can think of to mention is that I'm hungry, god damn it, and off the caveman goes hefting his club, angry at everything but himself, or the self he would be if he really were only the vegitable that he wants to be, rather than a time-endowed traveller in a video game with a sack of quarters bigger than the youth can imagine; but each day we load the quarters into the machine, and then sit in the lower-lefthand corner of the screen as all the other players venture more freely, blowing wads of money but racking up [points]....

House Music (1991)

House music in Europe is a much different ballpark; less ego and more animalistic/meaning-deprived than American music (and therefore people).  Americans on their own little comfortable egotism.  This makes them all harmless, passionless, and obnoxious (3 seperate issues).  Civilization at the expense of the spiritual....Do people really think life began about two or three hundred years ago?

From the damp doomful depths of MIT (1991)

Wow sometimes you get so gloomy and depressed that you don't realize that the reason you're all gloomy and depressed is not because the human race is a horde of barbarous monsters, but because




there's clothes and books and papers and tapes and boxes and bottles and cans and junk and junk and junk and the furniture is all on top of itself and the sink is funky and all you can do is lie around and mourn the loss of order in your life until one day you clean it up and suddenly the world is a happy place and you celebrate and celebrate and celebrate for days on end until partying becomes a drag and you sit around and listen to music all day and start getting gloomy and before you know it you're depressed and then you're all gloomy and depressed and sit around thinking about how life is meaningless and how you're leading such a sloppy lifestyle and how you couldn't care less if you get run over by a car, when you suddenly realize it's not that you're a barbarous monster unfit for society but





And you work and work and work for days and days and get miniscule amounts of sleep and walk around like a zombie and your mind starts getting crowded with all kinds of horribly useless things and you lose sense of what day it was when you last slept and "to party" seems like such an abstract concept and you work and work and work and work and work and work and work and suddenly you're almost caught up and suddenly you have a bunch of spare time so you sleep for dozens of hours and wake up and have absolutely nothing to do!  What a concept!  So you sit around and eat and sleep and listen to music and walk around randomly and watch TV and suddenly you're so bored that you sit in your room doing random activities and getting slightly gloomy as you wait for something to happen and the lighting is absolutely horrible and you sleep and you're getting too much sleep and suddenly you're all gloomy and the world is unbearable and the room's a mess and no I guess it's just me.  It's a weird life.

Glue (1991)

I had the most amazing experience.  I bumped my head on my right speaker and a bottle of glue fell over half on and half off over the edge of the speaker.  The glue ended up mostly on the left half of the jar and began spilling over to the right side.  When this happened, the jar of glue fell again and touched the floor where it briefly stood on end before toppling to the left.  Has time begun yet?

No That's Ridiculous (1991)

The very act that allows an artist to subconsciously incorporate things into his/her work proves that since creativity is subconsciously biased, the thought "No that's rediculous" is often a subconscious mind block of very relevant and damaging to the consciousness functionality to protect the conscience to lose its motivation.

Hiiya (1991)

Hiiya.  The sound of a misspelled greeting or the mellow karate master?  Left in ambiguity, this humble phrase becomes a work of art unto itself.  A gemstone to be perused by throngs of art critics troubled by the essential uselessness of language in disconnection with what one might have eaten the night before.

Art: Excerpts from "A Painted Prison" (1991)

The work of art is transformed into entirely another, lesser work of art if it is taken out of its entire context in which it was meant to exist....Just as corporations pay little heed to the ecostructures they ruin in their monetary pursuits and just as governments pay little heed to the cultures they crush in their expansionist pursuits, advertizers pay little heed to the synthesized ghosts that they create...with their constant "image-izing"....Images are picked out of the whole chain of images, and as extraction after extraction occurs, usually only a single "representative" frame of the whole stack of frames is left, bound to some composite ghost that serves as a pale parody of the original spirit.  This last image then survives like a tombstone above a grave where the original work of art is buried; the process amounts to a complete digestion and dismissal of a work of art by a society in the name of "pop-culture".

Octopus and LSD (1992)

In the kingdom of sleep in which I dread with the bottom of my left ventricle there exists a multi-headed slaps its many tentacles futilely against the glass walls of a gigantic fish bowl that stinks of rot and has many dark black cracks running across its surface and soon my legs will feel the power of a spiritual entity which I have no control over and I will do battle against my own bones and I will age years and I will hate myself forever after God I'm tired but I will not sleep ever I am awake in a world that I love but cannot love so can only hate my lack of energy and petition the devil for some kind of horrid stone prison where I can exercise magic spells in the peace of putrified degenerate life.

Subconscious Thoughts (1992)

The blood of dying seers runs thick and undetected through the unconscious valves of your mind, down the sluiceways of comprehension and digestion, to be erased within the sanitation of your dreams, if not plucked from subterranean streams by all of your own conscious forces, and spared from the rasping ego of the spoiled and hundred year old intellect who adeptly chunks and packages your precious perceptions into cardboard packages to be stored like the Ark in a warehouse of unqualified thoughts.

Population and the Environment (1992)

If over-developed countries and under-developed countries shared their resources in a global effort to establish SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIES, then population sizes will be able to grow and shrink as they will but have less influence on the Earth's resources.... population growth should best be considered as a cycle.  It is both the cause and consequence of the change in means of production (I think this finds its roots in Marx, but it definitely appears in modern anthropological controversies).  The role of population as a cycle in economic development negates hypotheses that implicate population (density) growth as an overall "CAUSE" or "CONSEQUENCE" (for lack of stronger words) in (long-term) economic changes (in anticipation of Occam's Razor).  In other words, it is often useful to remove consideration of population altogether to try to identify more basic causes and effects (such as technology, politics, media, culture, religion, etc).

Self-Organization I (1992)

The degree to which computer modulation can produce the most powerfully abstract and flexible theories can be most reliably measured by how "organic" the design of the computer simulation is.  As computer simulations approach greater amounts of "self-organization," the better they are able to model a complexity of the same order as biological systems....An example of a humanly manufactured object that approaches a certain level of self-organization is the Rubik's Cube....the presence of a computer often equates to an attempt at over-rationalizing the interaction state....For this reason, there should always be a human moderator....the whole concept of organic simulated computer moderated interactive states....Maybe...will have much less impact than has been predicted....However....I am guessing that Americans and computers will become greater linked together as various computer components become incorporated into a less egotistical and a more cognitively capable conception of the individual.  This may even result in a class of cyborgs (part man, part machine)

Self-Organization II (1992)

Self-organizational is only a descriptor of the goal you (the Australians too) are trying to achieve.  You want to find a cognitive state and the more successful cognitive states that have been observed are self-organized.  Besides, this is only a method which is independent of ends.  The "cognoscope" as you call it is a horrible mind prison using the human as a guinea pig in thousands of simulation experiments that carefully record each minute reaction.  Include the human as a subroutine to the program <conio.h>.

Self-Justification (1992)

Work is rewarding but what is work?  Flying leaves and twigs rustle my brain passages as neurological accidents trigger cataclysmic chemical reactions.  Where does the world stop and me begin?  I shall wonder until all the wondering is done.  My mind will wander through the wilderness of empty imagings, cold and distant landscapes that breath life into warm and friendly surroundings in the name of the preservation of species.  Some day I may even gain the strength to babble out loud and win for myself a questionable victory that vindicates nothing more than my own pathology for the day will never come when people can converse non-stop and the amount of energy I would steal from the world to approximate strange dreams would be better spent in profound degeneracy whiling the hours in spiritual attainment whilst all else suffers.  The elevation of me in order to create and reorder and elevate chaos to previously unknown dimensions in proportion to the deliberate will of the people and for their justification at the gates of post-eternity.  A false self-justification if there ever was one, worthy of the pope not at all and so I will swim among the waters of confusion until the day the bombs fall out of the sky putting an end to the long sequence of mistaken actions which bend their focii towards illusions of order when order is king and chaos fights forever for another breath, daring the rhythmic machines that house it to throttle their own necks which eventually must come to pass as Elric gasps his last breath and his loving companion Stormbringer pierces his neck and draws his soul into the land of undying scream beneath the cool ripples of the lake of gemstone souls.  Hasten me to a life of picking crumbs off the sponge like the ugly beast I truly am and leave the noble task to fools with greater capacities to invoke sympathy whilst I caper to shut off the mind that goads me on with drugs that punish the soul in subtle ways, give unto me the punishment I deserve for lacking the strength to fulfill my destiny to destroy the order that would bring all chaos to a conclusion locked in cold rocks and interchanging positrons in the world that science has wrought.  Long live the beast inside me who strives to celebrate the disappearing rays of sun with goofy ceremonies foretelling my doom.

Day-Glo (1992)

Any other color than day-glo and you can dismiss yourself with hatred --- you can hate the one who set that one up too --- conspicuous gloat and language damage futility disgust and dispair.

Technology (1992)

Technocentric exploitative unfettered market mechanisms presuming infinite substitution capability leads to the belief that all things are measurable by instrumental value and ignores the intrinsic nature of things.  The competitive struggle that goads us to the over-exploitation of the instrumental nature of things has been programmed into us after thousands of years of natural selection.  Still the only way to decrease use of exhaustible resources is through technological progress.

Endgame (1992)

At the end of my game I am in perpetual check.  My queen is off the board, and all my pieces are astray....Life at 7-11 continues in neverending boredom....So I will trip on down the stairs while the fishes in the clouds salute my fall.