The Chemistry Teacher's Son

being merely notes for a future Autobiography.
So expect random changes randomly.

This page is all about me me me, sorry about that. I don't know who would be interested in this person, but maybe someone might be, and I better give the story if they are to find out how all this came about.

To begin then, again.

Thomas Clark was born in 1961, exactly 22 years after the invasion of Poland, to an engineer and a science teacher who met at Stanford getting their master's degrees.

Fred Milton and Catherine Anne were staunchly in the American middle class, very progressive, brave and adventurous. The best of America, you might say. They checked each other's boxes, and met each other's families, and it was a definite yes. They got married in General George Patton's church near Pasadena. They were so hardworking they had no honeymoon, but started their jobs the next day. On the other hand, they saved for a year and then took a year (1957) to travel Europe. From Tacoma, it was the Train to the Boat to the Bus to the Bicycle Factory in England, then it was Raleigh Three Speeds around England and across France to the Volkswagen Factory in Germany; finally a VW Microbus "Kombi-Kamping" all around Europe for a year, counting every penny, when a replacement spark plug cost more than the labor to install it. Back in the US after Mary and I came along, they went to hear Martin Luther King Jr. talk in his visit to Portland; I remember them saying they were the only white faces in the crowd. Progressive. Then after a visit to the World's Fair in Seattle, they moved with an 8-month baby and 3 year old daughter to Bangkok in 1962. Adventurous! They were golden.

After ten years of Bangkok and Okinawa, two more kids, alcoholism, misbehavior, divorce, well it wasn't exactly golden any more but Mom was going to make it work out somehow, and independently, too.

Allow me to just talk about me and my Mom. She was a big influence on me. We talked over dinner, evenings, after school, after practice, throughout my high school years, or rather, she talked and I listened. She was a chemistry teacher, therefore logical and exact in all her thoughts, but also an idealist, most sincerely trying to fulfill her responsibilities and make the world a better place. I became her disciple, I knew everything she knew, and I knew why. I had her views, her idealism, her clarity and toughness of mind, her diplomatic and political sensibilities, her advantages and her weaknesses.

Mom, my sisters think she had a case of Asperger's. But she was very thoughtful about many things, she was the pinnacle of the Greatest Generation. So it depended how you took her. As a daughter seeking emotional intelligence and empathetic support and guidance, she was really terrible, grade F, a zero. They declared after, in bitterness, that she was a great father. As what she actually was, she was amazing.

She had a lot of discipline around her central thesis, which was Piagetian Constructivism: knowledge is self-invented; therefore practice non-direction. Let everyone do what they want; never exert undue influence. Encourage but do not direct. Late in dementia she said she followed the theory of box parenting. Establish a box around the child, and the child can play and do anything they want, inside those boundaries. For me, as she said, she gave me an extremely large box. Explains a lot.

Even so, she gave me a life mission. To find and do "the most important and best thing". You know, that's not very specific. But I went off to college with that mission, and milked western civilization for what it could say, which was nearly nothing, and went off to study with a high exponent of Eastern civilization, Swami Muktananda in Ganeshpuri India, who told me rather similarly, "Study what interests you". So I've just been on this track for my entire life.

I went back (this point in the story is my gap year between sophomore and junior years in college), and chose to major in "Linguistics and Cognitive Science", ostensibly because it was at least practical, considering that languages are practical, and computers are practical, and you can study as much as you want of either of them and call it linguistics, so that would be practical indeed. Of course it was the least practical thing in the world. With a PhD in that you are equally qualified as any high school graduate to join the plumber's union. But more about that later.

Muktananda's instruction, the same as Mom's box theory of parenting, gave me room to study and study and study, though generally keeping an eye on "the most important and best thing", which, in this world, for a person, has to do with people. The science of people might be a good place to start. That's rather vague, though. Whereas, the uniquely human subject of language, considered as including natural human language and also artificial computer language or generally computer science, was reasonably appropriate.

Being regularly distracted by puzzles at hand, humor being such a puzzle, I found myself an ur-example, then accumulating compatible observations and curiosities, and then a proto-theory, finally written and shared and with a crucial word of feedback, click, a super tight, minimalist, logic-based theory of humor from which everything derives sweetly. That would have been good enough to die and go to heaven, with gratitude.

But life goes on and, linguistics being practically impractical, I had a few careers, in business in tech, then real estate, going from building to owning, so as to eventually gain some free time to write and share again what I might be given to share.

The most important and significant, at this point, is an extension of N+V Humor Theory to a mathematical theory of emotion, including the special, optional, operation I()() that asserts an identification of oneself with situation-derived attributes and that binds the emotional consequences of those attributes to constrain one's emotional system. From this, and its optionality, one easily derives the high virtues, the psychology of high performance, the central, psychologically significant and liberating doctrines of all the religions, and the egoless states of flow, bliss, serenity, and transcendence. Please read Inner Surrender and Bliss Theory, and let's reconcile the battling religions of the world and give all a strait path to transcendence and unrestricted delight.

Well, that's how I see myself, at least. Others may feel otherwise.

This file is a placeholder and accumulation point for an autobiography or family memoir.

If you're not interested in the family history part, skip on down.

Before: Veatch, Rice, Cox, Crockett. Start with Cromwell and monarchy.

Mother formation: Mom was a suffering and isolated-because-intellectual girl in 1940's Pasadena. A place once she left she never would ever ever go back to live. Evidently high school was not friendly to this girl, daughter of immigrants, a very serious church girl, an idealist, the scion of her family. She didn't miss church between age 2 and college. Great Grampa Arthur had been recruited to run a choir on the Titanic or the Lusitania, goes a family story, but fortunately didn't close the deal. Later he was successfully recruited by the Methodist church, however, to run their choir, and on that Sunday his big family, a family of Episcopals, a.k.a. Anglicans, a.k.a. members of the Church of England, overnight all became Methodists. Except Mom who was teaching Sunday school for kids as a high school student, who went to Anglican church first, then taught Sunday school, then took the bus across town to the Methodist church, second service. Invariably.

As first of the first, Mom was the light of her family, not just her parents' only child, but three of the six siblings had no kids, and the ones who had some were later, so she was the golden child at the center. Uncle Alf (#2 after Grampa Bill), was a navy commander in the Pacific war, and wrote a letter from the Enterprise Group in September 1943 -- after Midway, around the time of the Battles of the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal. Uncle Alf's letter asked Catherine Anne out of everyone in the family, he asked Mom to please pray for him, he needed someone more than just himself to put in a word upstairs, and brothers, please don't sign up for this, you don't want to be part of it. Alf wasn't sleeping easy in the middle of the war, but the pillar of his family was his niece. Mom.

This English family came together around the piano to sing all the time, Fridays for sure, Sundays certainly, perhaps more than that. The piano was on the wall opposite the couch and comfy chairs, and the dense blue carpet in the middle, where a child could perform for the family. When I returned from Thailand at age 4, I found myself front and center on that carpet. Decades later, Cousin Anne reported, they asked, then, Tom, say something in Thai for us. At a loss I said, "In Thailand I speak Thai. In America, I speak American." And pushed out my chest, turned on my heel and marched out of the room. Evidently I was the golden boy like my Mom had been. That family had a culture of celebrating its members. Aren't you beautiful, brilliant, fabulous! Oh we adore you so much!

Bill courted Margaret, an introverted family-oriented Englishman, was tolerable to Margaret Crockett's small-town, Virginia-emigrant, cloth merchant father, Claude Crockett. Cousin Kate said, "Claude was a dandy". He was a dapper, well-dressed fellow, which makes sense since his job was selling cloth to make dresses and suits. He had a flowering bush in his yard, I can't remember the name, maybe it was a pink dwarf polyanthus, or a perennial bush of tiny roses, but Kate remembered he always had a fresh flower in his lapel. Crockett was his name, evidently we are cousins of that famous other Virginian, Davy Crockett. Claude was an old school Virginia racist, according to Mom, who said that a poor person during the Depression might come to the door to ask for food, and he would give them food, black or white,but if they were black, he made them go around to the back door. A story my mother told with embarrassment, years later.

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Copyright © 2020, Thomas C. Veatch. All rights reserved.
Modified: May 17, 2020.