Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vale, Bruce Duensing (In Memory of a Beautiful Mind)

Photograph (above) - a still from Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (trailer)- and the videos presently on the sidebar (Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass, and Strange Angels by Laurie Anderson) were borrowed from Bruce Duensing's blog, A Transit of Contingencies. See quotes below.

"All of this brings to mind imagination and consequently concepts that have no form, which then brings to mind the invisible man who had to wrap himself in bandages to be seen. Going further down the rabbit hole, there has been a great deal of dialog and debate in the scientific community about the equally loaded language generically termed “life after death” which if you ponder this for a moment and the associations it brings forth, it’s as incoherent a framework as it is screamingly apparent that any sentient existence of ourselves beyond physical embodiment would have no resemblance to life as we know it."
- Bruce Duensing via The Voyages of The Dead, his last blog post on "A Transit of Contingencies".

"The spirit of life was in them: death can do nothing against the dawning light; death is but a cardboard mask soon consumed by fire. Behind the black flag - which is nothing other than an anti-flag - the garden of all possibilities is hidden, opening out infinitely to the sea."
- Bernard Roger; quote via A Transit of Contingencies' sidebar.

“It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.”
- Surrealist Andre Breton; quote via A Transit of Contingencies' sidebar.

"The transference of memory outside of it's utility has been a chief feature of ghost encounters as well as dreams. What connects them is the strange bandwidth of a call, like the hoot of an owl or a sigh or the modality of words that proceed communication...the bandwidth of emotional engagement in the dreams that are superimposed as realities and the realities akin to dreams where the twain meets being neither one or the other, unconstrained by descriptors and yet in the genetics of an art where one brush stoke is built upon another, remain visible as a pixel in a memory without constraints..the glue of emotional engagement to referents that span our demarcations..become a cellular superimposition in a waking dream on both sides of this  proverbial mirror more akin to art than science more reinvention than mimicry, the recreation of our inner realities, a play upon solids that are not solids, but brush strokes."

"Perhaps the dead view us as dead as much as we view them to be artifacts of memory put in their place as we dream we are something termed alive. File cabinets, reams of paper, language, islands, the waves of sound washing on the material making patterns of undeniable artistry that has no objectivity we can wrest from it. Reality is silent to the words we utter, yet we partake of this orchestrated art, to make images in the mind, to imagine what is not and to visualize it as a stick one end pointing to the devil, the other to Angels in a relativity of an art critic."

"In praise of the toys, in praise of the play of dreams wound on a mainspring by birds on the wing... never to return this way again. Then if we left all of this to the recycling bin, to the scrapyard of the impractical, I sense we will lose our sense of enfoldment, which as an attachment I have found is crucial to a life, perhaps more so than that ATM card we keep close at hand."

- Three separate quotes taken from several earlier posts on A Transit of Contingencies.

"We spend most of our existence in a dynamic of unconscious self-sabotage."

- Bruce Duensing quoted, via the June 16 Radio Misterioso  show, "A Tribute To Bruce Duensing – Life Is But A Dream". (highly recommended listening)


On May 23rd of this year, mathematician (and the subject of the 2001 film adaption "A Beautiful Mind") John Nash died. But, the world lost another - less celebrated - beautiful mind last month; that of Bruce Duensing.

Some of you may have known Bruce through his blog, A Transit of Contingencies (contingency referring to a future event that can't be predicted with certainty), or his earlier blog, Intangible Materiality, previously mentioned on PMB here, which had a tribute to Mac I listed on the PMB sidebar under "Other... Memorial... Links". (Note: for whatever reason, Intangible Materiality is no longer available to the general public, and this is unfortunate.)

Bruce had been a follower - and fan - of Posthuman Blues and mentioned Mac from time to time in the context of his own paranormal thought experiments. Having lost his son, Matthew, whom he mentioned often in his writings, Mac's early, unexpected death especially touched a chord...

As for myself, although I didn't personally know Bruce all that well, we seemed to have a sympathetic relationship, and he kindly mentioned myself and Trans-D once on his blog.

I've noticed that a few people, although impressed by Bruce's ideas, found his actual written text someone difficult to absorb. The truth is, the man was brilliant, but, practically speaking, he needed an editor. But then, and it goes without saying, who amongst us does not need an editor?

Interwoven through his blog narratives - in his blogger profile he referred to himself as  a "native surrealist" - were amazingly original concepts regarding paranormal topics from ghosts to UFOs (and/or UAPs, Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena).  But, he also occasionally mentioned episodes from his personal life; sadly, these were often dire: Asperger Syndrome, the big C, deaths of loved ones, and, finally, just months before his death, the loss of his home, his cat Kiwi, and most of his belongings to a raging fire. Bruce was a haunted man; but, he also had a lighter side evinced by his passion for toy trains, specifically "vintage O Scale Hornby Clockwork trains" which he chronicles in a group of videos found on his YouTube page.

Every now and then he'd lament what he viewed as a dedicated lack of response and appreciation to his blogging efforts... a view that I imagine many bloggers, at some point, share. In the days before his blog mysteriously went dormant, he wrote a post about this topic. In response, I had actually composed a long comment which I saved in a file, but never uploaded it. But then, days later, he removed the post, so, I guess it's just as well. But I came across the file during the course of writing this memorial, and I'm going to post an excerpt from it here because, in the end, I think Bruce would've liked it... and I wished I had sent it to him.

"The "personal" blogging experience, however, is a closer encounter of a different and deeper kind. it's a strange exercise whereby the blog's creator, while attempting to "reach out and touch someone" in a more profound way, eventually encounters new information, various forms of enlightenment,  and/or new facets of themselves and clues to their personal conundrums. And, if a few hardy souls, who just happen to be wandering through, witness this weird involuted process of discovery and self-self-discovery, then they may visit again... possibly out of mere curiosity... but, more probably because some part of their inner journey resonates with the blogger's own. That they rarely divulge their presence -  and most people rarely divulge their presence when transiting through the various "stations" - is in keeping with the subliminal, "underground" nature of the journey.

The reality of the virtual world is that we're all a collection of creators and voyeurs running through a psychological, philosophical maze. Some of us pirouette gracefully in the mirror ball but never understand what it is we're looking at, nor what we're looking for. Nor do we even think to ask. The rest of us are inner space-cadets, alchemists, explorers, individualists, and seekers of both the new and the old "Holy Grail". In short, we're the "Fools" in this traveling Tarot deck. And while our movements may initially seem out-of-place, or even awkward, this is due to our precarious placement in the sequence. The Fool is designated as #0; It arrives in the beginning, it arrives at the end, and it is present at every station in-between. The Fools are the free-agents; we need no validation."

That being said, Bruce recently did a well-received podcast with our favorite radio show host, Greg Bishop, over at Radio Misterioso,  Bruce Duensing – Becoming The Change We Want to See.  Lo and behold, as I'm writing this, Greg just synchronistically uploaded A Tribute To Bruce Duensing – Life Is But A Dream(Both shows can be listened to via the main page.)

Thank you, Greg.

And a special thanks goes out to Paul Kimball for his June 4th post RIP to Bruce Duensing, which is where I discovered the sad news, albeit a week later.

Moreover, my sincerest condolences go out to Bruce's family and close friends.

Below is webcam video Bruce posted to his YouTube page earlier this year, which I found during the course of writing this post. It's a bittersweet moment in time in retrospect, but reveals Bruce's wry sense of humor. In it,  he mentions three films that might interest you, all of which can be found on YouTube: BarakaPandora's Box, and Iron Sky (a trailer).

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that Bruce's passing was a grievous shock and he will be sorely missed. But, who knows - and this what I'd like to think - that ultimately it was just Bruce's curiosity about death that finally got the better of him... and now on some parallel plane, he's busy blogging about his new journey in no uncertain terms... to a much wider and receptive audience!

You go, Bruce.

"The Fool" from the Mary-El Tarot.

"With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him - its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, though he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height. His countenance is full of intelligence and expectant dream. He has a rose in one hand and in the other a costly wand, from which depends over his right shoulder a wallet curiously embroidered. He is a prince of the other world on his travels through this one-all amidst the morning glory, in the keen air. The sun, which shines behind him, knows whence he came, whither he is going, and how he will return by another path after many days. He is the spirit in search of experience. Many symbols of the Instituted Mysteries are summarized in this card, which reverses, under high warrants, all the confusions that have preceded it."

-Excerpt from: The Fool (Le Mat), The Spirit of the Aether

4 Degrees of Triangulation - 2015, DS


  1. The closing quote is a stunning piece of visual architecture, though I see Bruce with a pen, or a reasonable simulation thereof, in one hand and a clockwork tin train engine in the other. It was wonderful stumbling into your blog today which is the best homage to Mr. Duensing, former employee of Being Human Inc., that I've read so far. Perhaps he may yet receive his Employee of the Year award, albeit posthumously, ahem, forgive me, I mean Post-humanly.

    There's a lot of guilty regret though reading your words. Your perceptive summation of digital voices passing each other in the night online, reading words of an author who doesn't even know you visited, or if you cared. "Only Connect" says Ford Madox Ford. Bruce was an exceptional "good soldier" of humanity, seemingly caught by life's circumstances and hauntings as you say. There's a sadness and a wonder there. I miss reading his older blog, was just starting to connect with him and now chastise myself for not engaging more with him previously. Perhaps you should have been on Misterioso instead? It sounds like you connected well with him.

    But is it not the frequent fate of good authors to go to their final rest of flesh without ever really realizing just how impressed others were, and how the ideas were embraced, and even used? The night we finished the Misterioso episode I went outside to be with the thunder and rain storm that was whipping across southwestern Ontario at the time, just to clear my head and think a little more about the man's ideas about the inbetween spaces inhabited by my imagination acting as my consciousness, and that was something.

    "A native surrealist." Gotta love it. Wish there were more of those wandering around. Thanks for the great post and all the post-Mac stuff you got going on here. Very righteous.

    1. Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, sir. Comments like yours are sheer gold for a blogger!

      I miss Bruce's older blog, too, and hope it's made "public" again.

      Speaking of RM, I enjoyed your "Burnt State" podcast very much. As you're not familiar to this blog, perhaps you're unaware that I mentioned it here:

      And, speaking of blogs, Bruce left a comment on my "other blog" that I'd like to share with you. It was in reply to the post "The Shadow Self and the Mirror Image", but somehow seems fitting here. He wrote:

      "For me, perfectionism always equated to the representation of a frozen universe. Gregory Bateson said “Whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer, stricter way of thought or exposition; whenever we start insisting too hard upon "operationalism" or symbolic logic or any other of these very essential systems of tramlines, we lose something of the ability to think new thoughts. “ Social scripting or having an audience dictate every orientation makes for a situation where we cease to exist, an indelible invisibility the results from paving over nature with asphalt.

      The best rationale for creating anything I came across was it was necessary to let others know they are not alone. Your post accomplished this. Sometimes I think the process is more important than the effect in a finished “product”. As soon as anything is finished, we are already a hundred miles away looking for another door."


      Thanks again!

  2. That's the problem with doorways. They look so enticing and then before you know it you're on the other side. It's hard to get stuck in between. Yes, there is a kid of loneliness there, or at least the pulse of the impulse to write carries its own rhythmic carrier wave. Thanks for all the great things you said about the RM episode on the role of narrative. I will promise to post here in the future. Please remind Greg of his humble brilliance at his space as well; the guy's editing prowess really made this episode on Bruce tight and focussed. Be well. Looking forward to reading more here in the future. Btw, I love your artwork and have always been very taken by the cover of Cryptos. so this is a very nice feedback loop.

    1. Thanks, Robert!

      As you'll note, I removed my previous reply (due to the embarrassing banality of its content) (so much for carrier waves), but I also wanted to mention that I did listen to the radio tribute... which was phenomenal! You, Greg and RPJ did Bruce proud. Moreover, you made a really dynamic team. Very heady stuff!

      And, I did try to leave a comment... but was rejected by Wordpress! Noting that there were no other comments there at all, however - when there certainly should've been - I'm wondering if there's a glitch. I did email Greg. I guess we'll see.

      Best to you (and the "Dream Team")... :-)

  3. This is very sad. Everything I see here rings bells, and sadly I did not know of his blog until now. Thank you for remembering Bruce, so I can read his work and know more, in memoriam.

    1. You're welcome, TB, and, yes, Bruce sure did a lot of "bell ringing"!

      It'd be wonderful if he found new readers... even now.