Free-fall – Posts offering perspective and commentary on art and global environmental issues from Joe Carlisi

indigo2 11-12-04 , 11/12/04, 8:40 PM, 8C, 7450x8938 (1874+1448), 133%, Repro 11.10.04, 1/8 s, R70.8, G33.1, B34.9


The one universal law or rule that seems to hold constant
in nature is the seeking of balance by all natural systems.
Adjustment, compensation, contraction, expansion… an
infinite number of corrective, balancing actions and
reactions continuously unfold in the natural world; the
world that includes us.

Visionary architect/engineer/cosmologist, R. Buckminster
Fuller, recognized and identified this inherent, universal
property of natural systems. He named it, tensegrity. Fuller
observed that structures in nature, from the microcosm of
atoms and cells, to the vastness of solar systems and
galaxies, incorporate tense or rigid elements held together
in a continuous web of flexible, compression members.

External pressure is distributed evenly across the entire
structure, giving it a resilient, continuously, self-adjusting
character that helps it adapt while maintaining its integrity,
and ultimately, its interconnectivity and survival. He
recognized this property as an analogue applicable to
engineering and architectural design of man made
structures as well. Natural systems are self-balancing and,
in the case of organic systems, self-healing.

When massive, external pressures are so great as to
overwhelm a systems ability to adjust, restore balance
and, in the case of living, organic systems, to heal, then
the system collapses — dies. This principle holds true for
individual organisms and for complex, natural systems
composed of diverse, interrelated, living organisms (a
coral reef, for instance). When a “tipping point” occurs and
a living systems capacity for restoring balance is
exceeded, tensegral limits are broken and a reverse,
domino effect begins.

The system enters a free fall of accelerating
destabilization and ultimately, due to the interconnectivity
of its elements, a complete unraveling and loss of integrity
occurs. The living, self healing, organic machine becomes
a self-propelled, irreversible, extinction machine. Of
course, nature ultimately finds a new balance — a balance
that may or may not include elements of the prior cycle.

Free – Fall
The ecosphere of this planet is currently experiencing
severe destabilization to a degree that places it on line
with a point of no return. Whether or not, that point has
actually been passed is not known.
The human activity driving the degradation of the planet’s
ability to sustain life, as we know it, has been clearly
identified and publicized. Yet, that activity has not so much
as paused, skipped a beat, broken stride. Rather, it has,
accelerated, ramped up to new levels of intensity.
Judgements of human behavior as good/bad, right/wrong
seem useless and irrelevant. From an evolutionary
perspective human behavior is dysfunctional . . . failed.
Poor, unsuccessful choices leading to extinction rather
than survival, perhaps made under the fictional belief that
humanity is special, above nature and somehow exempt
from natural consequences.

This disconnection and environmental free – fall are only
temporary. Nature will reclaim and re-balance all of its
elements. This can occur as a process of extinction,
reabsorption into the flux of universal process — or it can
happen by adaptive, evolutionary adjustment, leading to
continuity of the current cycle of life.

Painting – “Mood of Peace” Balance is attainable when the equality of all life is acknowledged as equal. Nature has no special beings. Everything is equally important . . . or unimportant.


Joseph Carlisi – Biography     

Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T.     

After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”.

Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil.

Joe’s art is available for purchase.

Contact him at