I’m Sigurd, son of Sigurd (an easy rhyme is “triggered”). Wiktionary: origin: Old Norse Sigurðr, from sigr (“victory”) + varðr, vǫrðr (“guard”); from Wikipedia: Sigurd appears in Norse and German tales that vary, but with some common themes. Sigurd slays the dragon Fafnir at the request of his evil-minded foster father, Regin. After, he (tastes, drinks, bathes in, … depending on which version of the tale) the dragon’s blood, he gets new powers – to understand the language of the birds (and learn of his step-father’s plot against him), invulnerability, prophecy. J. R. R. Tolkein’s 2009 book, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, has two long poems based on the tale, inspired by traditional poetic forms.
For most of my life, I’ve striven to understand System (frameworks for understanding the world) and Spirit (the life-force that pervades world), and to better understand and manifest will towards self-development. Some of my interests are shared by few others. This web site might be a way of finding kindred spirits.
Spirit: I’ve encountered a variety of religious traditions. Our family attended the local Episcopal church, our neighbors included those in Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, and other traditions. I had a Buddhist roommate from Malaysia at Princeton. Went into the Peace Corps part-way to a degree, to Nepal, where I first encountered Hinduism. After returning to the US and to Princeton, a yoga instructor introduced me to two exceptional teachers from India whose influence is reflected in many daily practices, and in how I conceive of this thing called “human” – Harish Johari (affectionately known as Dada (“older brother”)) and Shyam Bhatnagar (Shyam-ji). In the few years before moving to Vermont, I was close with a Mevlevi Sufi group led by Kabir and Camille Helminski. I was with them for two of their Summer retreats in (what is now nearby) Burke, VT. Locally, I’ve found a sense of sangha (roughly, “spiritual family”) with two groups (both in Barnet, VT) with roots in Tibetan Buddhism. The first US base of (the sometimes controversial) Chogyam Trungpa was Tail of the Tiger, now called Karme Choling. Close by is the Milarepa Center, connected with the more “traditional” FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition).
System: I’ve always been good at math, and interested in patterns. Buckminster Fuller was an early intellectual hero for me. He led a life of exploration, striving to bring something new into the world. In addition to introducing new ways of thinking about the workings of the world, he sparked my interest in the Platonic solids. Another influence has been the lesser known Stafford Beer. The recursive nature of his model of systems is unique in the approaches I’ve encountered.
In Stafford Beer‘s model, a “Viable System” [2nd source] has five levels – the first level has the collection of “component” systems that interact in / are the building blocks of the larger system. The higher levels deal with communication, control, etc. Beer was strongly influenced by cyberneticist W. Ross Ashby and introduced me to Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.
My father introduced me to the ideas of John Bennett, and through him, Gurdjieff. Bennett studied the fundamental aspects of the monad, dyad, triad etc. (systems of one, two, three or more [components is not quite the right word]) that hold true through their various incarnations. Via the Bennett community I met Tony Blake (who studied with both Bennett and physicist David Bohm), and attended a number of the events he pulled together in and near Baltimore a few decades ago, when I lived relatively close by. I met Richard (Dick) Knowles at one of Tony’s gatherings. His Process Enneagram comes out of the Gurdjieff/Bennett tradition, via Krone Associates’ work for DuPont, via which my father also came to know of Bennett and his Systematics. Architect Christopher Alexander has been an interest. Lately I have been reading and thinking about Goethe‘s approach to scientific inquiry, in good part through the writings of Henri Bortoft, Craig Holdrege, and others. I’m slowly working my way into Joanna Macy’s book on a connection between Buddhism and General Systems Theory.
Some fundamental questions engage me – Who am “I” that is distinct from the rest of the vastness of life – matter, sensation, thought and spirit – as all of this “co-volves” through time. How do life-forms learn, change, adapt? What is possible for a human who works to refine his/her states of being? How have different traditions understood what it means to become a better human, and how to go about such a goal? What do I have the will to practice in everyday moments, and in early-morning sitting-time [that may bring deeper states along the spectrum of dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi]?
My Work Life: I wrote my first computer program in 1965, and have worked with (primarily “small”) computers ever since. When living in Delaware, I had two long-term employers – a civil engineering company, and the University of Delaware (their first PC support person). Since moving to Vermont in 1998, most of my work has been other than as an employee. Almost since moving here, through fall of 2014, I worked part-time for various small rural schools as technology coordinator or as one of a tech support team. Other lines of work include creating custom applications built around databases (using Microsoft Access) and building web sites for local businesses.
Other Web Presence: I created the site solvt.com, also using WordPress, to put forth a professional face beyond the Solbakken Technology Partners web site through which my wife and I present our business.
This Site: I’m posting information both on web pages (mostly accessible via the menu) and in occasional blog posts; currently both are open for comments (should anyone wish to leave such). Some of the math-oriented blog post content is being re-used in web pages – so you’ll see some duplication of material.
I’d be interested in talking with others about how to bring into being an education environment that is more self-directed, with more intensely focused students, than one finds in today’s schools. While actively involved in education, I collected interesting educational links at a wordpress.com site.
What is a system? How can one be described, studied, understood? What is a human system? What are its potential capacities? How are those realized?
In the realm of ideas, these are topics in which I’m particularly interested:
Approaches to Scientific Inquiry: Goethe, known for his poetry, plays and such had other sides as well. He was an effective administrator of public works and educational systems. He also studied various aspects of nature. What I find most interesting is his approach. It was one of openness, to never “finding the answer” to the questions around nature’s behavior. In distinction to that, the preponderant approach was that of Newton and others. Once a law is found, it becomes a lens through which nature is observed. This obscures the possibilities of new understandings.
Mathematics: There are three mathematical niches which have drawn my fascination, accessible under “Math” in the menu. I find the interconnected in that they deal with how I think number interfaces with physical events (triadic numbers), structure (starting with an area Bucky Fuller studied: Platonic solids + vector equilibrium, and looking into the coordinate systems implicit in these shapes), and pattern (enneagram and how it relates to number-patterns that occur in various number-bases).
My attempts to fulfill those parts of my nature that might be considered spiritual or self-observing have led me to spend time with, and learn of their tradition from sources including: a Mevlevi Sufi group – the summer retreats I joined were at Burke Mountain, not far from my current home; former students of John Bennett (for whom Gurdjieff was an important influence) connected with Claymont Court in West Virginia; and two men from India (from a Hindu background, whom I discuss elsewhere on this site). People involved in these communities, along with friends and the occasional meaningful encounter have taught me much about how to live one’s life to best effect.
After some years, I’m getting around to better presenting and expressing the ideas that have held my interest.