Dangerous World

How can we rescue ourselves and each other from the dangerous
world we have created?

Our advanced scientific knowledge has produced technologies of tremendous power. We move great objects at stupendous velocities. Our so-called “intelligent machines” perform trillions of calculations in fractions of a second. Everywhere around us our mastery of material processes has refashioned the world of our experience. We have changed the planet and ourselves in ways unimagined by previous generations.

But all this scientific and technological progress has also produced processes that threaten to bring us great harm – harm to ourselves and to our world. Our knowledge turns out to be limited. By focusing our minds on exclusively materialist conceptions of existence, we managed to produce a century of physical and psychological horror on a scale unprecedented in human history.

As we look upon the post-modern landscape, we must ask ourselves, what is it about the way we have conceived of the world and our place in it that has proven so destructive to both our environment and our collective psyche?

Our search for order within the apparent chaos of life has created systems of rigid cultural orthodoxy while maintaining chaos – in the form of unending war, political and economic strife. Even our entertainment media, which we have ostensibly created as havens from the incessant roughness of the real world, are replete with violence and images of brutal inhumanity.

Prodded by atavistic fears we are impelled to create fortresses of safety and security, yet we fail to notice until it is too late – we have enclosed the most dangerous thing within the fortress walls.

We are the most dangerous thing. We have the power to multiply the natural terrors of the world a thousand times over. When we desensitize our crucial neural connections of empathy and feelings of compassion for others, we lose sensitivity and compassion for ourselves as well.

We are learning from our historic failures that we must reformulate our fundamental assumptions about the world and our place within it. The end of the old sciences of separation, reductionism, inflexible logic and absolute certainty leads us ineluctably toward a new science of connectedness, relativity, complexity and possibility.

As we learn to listen more attentively to the beating of our hearts and feel more deeply the breath in our lungs, we come closer to our common humanity. As we begin to ask the right questions, we observe the answers are present within us.

Our minds move inevitably toward the conclusion that instead of what can be accomplished by competition, power and domination, the ultimate purpose and meaning of life can be cultivated by compassion, communication, collaboration and cooperation.


“Dangerous World” by Tullio DeSantis

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Comes the Night



“Comes the Night” – Tullio – 2014
(click image for larger view)

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Collaboration with Dee Shapiro

I have been working with Dee Shapiro and the good people from the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY. We will be doing a November presentation related to our collaborative project. I’ll present via Skype – making the connection technologically. As the time approaches, look for additional status updates from us regarding our collaboration.


“Tullio’s Offering” – Dee Shapiro – 2014



“Electromagnetic Impulse” – Tullio – 2014


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I am writing more. When writing happens after a period of not writing, I think about how that works. The coming and going of words in the midst of a predominantly visual stream. And rather than go on about it, I can refer you to a dialog initiated a few years ago by Philip Hartigan. We talked about, among other things, switching between visual and verbal modes of expression.




image – “Compassion” – digitally altered painting – 2011




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Getting rough out here.

Getting rough out here.
The cicadas of late summer are silent.
Their crisp skins, strewn around
mixed with acorns
and lifeless leaves.

My path is crossed by doomed survivors
old bees getting a final buzz off of their chests
limping crickets fooled by mid-day sun
crazy drunken flies in kamikaze loops.

The praying mantis I spy
poised on a fire escape downtown
has no religion.
And the green katydid
flying toward me
with impossible wings
is unnerving

These squirrels are way ahead of me.
Summer was just a dream
and they knew it.

– text by Tullio DeSantis


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In a lost attempt to control reality
the cricket crawls under a fallen leaf.
A frog is swallowing it as I pass.
Neurons set connections in my brain.
I make a mental note about not crawling under leaves.

Birds learn flight by flying.
Flying away in autumn and coming back in spring
is how it’s done.
That’s no metaphor.
That’s a fact.

– text by Tullio DeSantis

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End of the World


On my way home I pass a man.

He stands on the roadside with a sign.


“The wisest man in the world.”


White hair, standing there,

he looks harmless enough.


I’m curious. I stop,

roll down the window

and feel the cold.


“Where you headed?” I say.


“I’m headed to the world’s end.

Looks like I found it.”


“I don’t think so. This is Pennsylvania.

It’s not the end of anything, much less the world.”


“Well, if you let me go along with you for a while, I’ll show you.

I’ll get out then.”


“I have about 30 miles to where I’m going.

I’m not going out of my way.”


“No problem,” he says.


He gets in, shoves the sign in the back seat.

We drive on.


“Your sign says you’re the wisest man in the world. Is that so?”


“Sure am.”


“OK. What’s it all about, then?”


“It’s the middle of winter. That means we are all dead. And we won’t wake up until spring. We die all the time but we don’t notice it because we all die at the same time,” he says.


“Do we all wake up at the same time then, too?”


“In a way we do. But that’s just a figure of speech.”


I’m thinking my passenger is clever, but he’s not the wisest man in the world.


“That’s it.” he says. “Don’t think another thought. I’m getting out right here.”


I bring my car to a stop. There’s nothing on either side but an old cornfield. He gets out and walks up a slight rise through snow and corn stubs. As he reaches the crest and descends, he seems to disappear.


Just before that he drops a small piece of paper. I have some time. I pull over, park, and follow his frozen footsteps. At the top of the hill I find a folded note. He is gone.


Back home now. I bury his sign and read the note.


I am old and I will die

It is time to come clean.

I woke up at an early age.

I lived a normal life.

So that you believe me

when I reveal all.

I will do that now.


It is not comforting to know.

Hearing this will not set you free.


Freedom is not for us in this life.

We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things

As if we live forever.


It is our bodies doing this.

Our minds know very well we die.

But our bodies refuse to hear of it.

Our bodies desire the useless things.


We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs

serving them endless amounts of what they desire

but does not sustain them

making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it

because they refuse to accept they will die.


Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.

That’s our lazy bodies talking

Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors

So we can see the damage we’re doing.


And while we know love is the answer,

We are faced with the hard fact

We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.

We do not love ourselves.


We are our bodies.

And because they are such stupid brutes

They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing

and wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.

I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.

I see far enough to see an end.


Waking up is like this.

Once it is yours you see right through it.

And you know

Like everything else

It is nothing at all.


The secret of life is life.

We all possess it for a while.

The world ends.

We know it then.

We were already dead.



- text by Tullio DeSantis


This poem also exists as a collaborative piece I did with the performer/musician Heidi Harris.

There is an audio version of it on ARTologyPOD. It is Episode 11.



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