- WHEN TOO MUCH TURMOIL PREVAIL OUTSIDE, LOOK FOR PEACE WITHIN, GO INTO COLD MOUNTAIN.
- A YEAR TO FORGET, AND MOVE ON, WHAT FOLLOWS? WE WILL SEE.
- LIFE IS WORTH LIVING DESPITE IT’S HARDSHIPS, AND MEMORIES FROM AN OLD THANKSGIVING MEAL.
- WHAT’S GOING ON, A LITTLE BIT ON OUR CURRENT PROBLEMS, AND THE WISDOM OF RUMI
- REFLECTIONS ON LIFE AS WE AGE, AND THE SEARCH FOR PEACE.
- FORESIGHT, AND PLANING FOR THE FUTURE, RATHER THAN WAIT AND SEE WHAT MAY HAPPEN, A TIME FOR HEART.
- VIVAMOS VIDERE, THE MORE WE LIVE, THE MORE WE ARE A WITNESS TO LIFE.
- 2020 ANNO HORRIBILIS=HORRIBLE YEAR, SO FAR.
- THE THINGS TO COME, SOONER THAN WE EXPECTED, THE FRUIT OF UNBRIDLED PLUTOCRACY, AN OUTDATED MODEL, ON A FINITE WORLD.
- THE AGE OF RESPONSIBILITY, OR PAYBACK, IT’S HERE.
- LOVE, AND SOLITUDE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
- COSMOLOGIES, AND SEMANTICS.
A global pandemic, an overactive hurricane season, nationwide protests over racial injustice and a contentious presidential election have dominated the news this year. No wonder Time magazine has dubbed 2020 “The Worst Year Ever.”
Maybe the bright side of 2020, is it will be over in a matter of a couple of days, a few hours from now. I don’t mean that turning to 2021 will change everything miraculously, but you know the saying: “Hope is the last thing to die.”
And at this point, I want to believe it, or I am spoiled? After a life of ups, and downs, and I should say personally my affairs are no worse than in any other year, granted I have not caught Covid-19 yet, even if two close members of my family have, this year seems like if you watch the news a nightmare with no end in sight!
And a good reason not to watch the news, you may add, but other than going to an isolated place where no people or the internet can reach you, it will be hard to do, not talking about abandoning work, giving up your electronic devices, and living like a hermit. Hardly any of us can afford to do so.
SO THE SHOW MUST GO ON, AND THEREFORE THE BUSINESS OF LIVING.
As usual, we will wake up, head to the bathroom, go prepare your favorite wake up drink, take a bath, or a shower, dress up, and go and face the new day, doing whatever you have to do, and you have made personally your business of living.
Please do not forget your mask!
Personally I hate so much using the mask, but I thanks the mask for making me more efficient, on doing my shores outside the house, its not only the difficulty in breathing, but even how difficult it makes to see what is below your eyes, and a simple task like pulling your wallet to pay for something it becomes a burden, I have also more respect for the blind, and people with respiratory problems.
Oh well, why bitch?
If there is life, there is Hope, and the sun rays will warm up our body, and we will go on smiling, and try to be better, and do the right thing, at each step of the way, that’s the real business of living, to face the insurmountable odds, and pay attention to why is better to smile, than to cry, or be mad, to do the utmost of be an example of bravery, compassion, love, and a beacon of wisdom. Following the way of those, on whom the Almighty have bestowed His Grace, not the way of those who earned His anger, nor of those who went astray.
Look well therefore to this day; Such is the salutation to the ever new dawn!
Happy New Year to All of You!
“Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this.”
What a year 2020 has been!
But I will not dwell on it, you know as well as everyone else, and no doubt you have your own share of stories, I will focus on a positive note.
Through my life despite an introverted character that pulls me hard towards seclusion, and the act of going out of the house not unpleasant, but certainly I see it as a task, or a chore, I rather would like to do the things I enjoy more, like drinking my coffee through my lips slowly, in the company of a good book, or with a nice small group of friends sharing diner, or cuddling up with my loved one, not that I have one at the moment, well let’s get to the point I need exercise for my body, this covid-19 quarantine, has being a real disaster on my efforts to be in shape, and with the never ending pandemic in sight, now since a month decided to do 25 minutes from my old routines, that I used to do years ago, at my Dojo.
Before the pandemic my only source of exercise was to walk for all my errands daily, carrying my groceries, or whatever back to home, and since I live far enough from where I do my errands, this was always enough to keep me in shape, without worrying about getting out of shape.
But I confess doing my old routines in the backyard, it’s not only tough, and demanding, but boring, doing it by myself.
So, since last week I decided after my workout, to supplement it, with a walking around my neighborhood through two parks, one small, and the other larger, but do it at a very early hour hoping will not be crowded, to my surprise I was right, at that hour there was almost nobody, except for very few people, but as I observed them realized all of them were old like myself , and even some even older!
Most of them by themselves, few older couples, and all of them at safe a distance, not exactly a crowd, by any means, but what amazed me more was this really old, and heavy lady with a special cane for walking, she really has to do a great effort, and don’t believe she walks short distances, despite her obvious efforts in walking, I have seen her now all over the place since!
Now, reflecting life is tough, and full of hardships, but we old folks, who have cling to it for quite a while, we must find life also precious, to hang around just a little bit more, if we can.
Old news, but how was your Thanksgiving day?
Now hope you all guys despite traveling limitations had a nice Thanksgiving, I got to confess the tradition in America was foreign to me, before my time in the US Thanksgiving was just a day you go to church and offer thanks to the Lord, then you out of church go back to your daily routine, not a special day after, in anyway.
So when arriving in the US and finding it was a general Holliday, and a precious one, where you go to be together with family members before Christmas, well it was new to me.
I got to confess I was invited, a few times to some people’s home, Thanksgivings, specially by a good friend and his mother of German origin who prepared delicious dinners for us.
But as a guest, myself never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, but I have a tale of making a foreign dish, and taking it to a Thanksgiving gathering, at the house of a cousin of my current girlfriend at the time, quite some years ago.
Nowadays here in America everybody is a gourmand, but it was not always so, the late eighties, and early nineties, saw an explosion of a new bug, the taste of foreign cuisines. In my opinion now we are kind of spoiled we enjoy the food from almost all over the World, on our own cities, when before asking for a foreign delicacy was almost unheard of, even supposedly foreign restaurants catered stuff like Chinese Chop-Suey, or Italian spaghettis with meat balls, as examples of what we passed for a foreign dish, or as an old friend of mine used to say: “A Chef Boyardee can out of the grocery shop, that was Italian food for me then, imagine! And I used to think, what’s the big deal about Italian food?”
Rut Tam wrote:
‘My family’s food went from ‘Chinese grossness’ to America’s ‘hottest food trend. The lengths to which immigrant families have gone to hide the way we feed ourselves break my heart.’
Well back to my story, my girlfriend was supposed to cook a dish, whatever she wished to do, I had been along with her the year before, and my girlfriend spent the better of a day cooking a dish and complaining what an ordeal it was.
As the days went on, the next year approached to Thanksgiving, my girlfriend started to dread the idea, of cooking another dish for the gathering, seeing her distress, and remembering all her worries and nervous state she got, not to say the mood she will get into, I offered to stop worrying about it, this year will be my time to do a dish, to take to her cousin’s Thanksgiving.
She was relieved, but every day first thing on the morning, she will ask me:
“Have you thought about what you are going to cook for Thanksgiving?
To which I will replay nonchalantly: “Not really, but do not worry I will think of something to cook, just leave it to me.”
But as the day approached she got really worried and pestered me the day before Thanksgiving, I mean she was close to a nervous breakdown!
I said to her: “Stop worrying I will cook them a Mole.”
“A Mole, dear.”
“I never heard of such a thing!”
“Well it’s a very well known Mexican dish.”
She replied: “Well you better get going now, tomorrow is Thanksgiving! And where are the groceries?”
“ I will pick them up this evening after work” was my calm reply, and I did, that evening went to the market and picked all I needed.
My girlfriend thought I will spend all night laboring on it, I just told her: “Look I will wake up real early, and the Mole will be ready before we have to go into the car on the way to your cousin, meanwhile you go and do whatever, but please I do not want you behind my shoulder a nervous rag watching me cook, go for a walk, relax get a hot bath, and get your outfit ready, or whatever you need to do like putting gas on the car.
So I start cooking with the kitchen all to myself, and by the time she got ready, my dish was almost done, she come into the kitchen saying:
“God! That stuff you are cooking it’s all over the place, does not smell bad, but what the hell is Mole?”
Coming behind me, her eyes went as big as saucers when she saw the big pot with mole brewing.
She just went ballistic! In all truthfulness I could not blame her, she has never seen Mole before and the way it looks may surprise many, in an off way.
She tried to stay calm but she told me and with good reason, nobody will like to even try it.
For the first time she put a little seed of doubt on my mind, and even told her: “Look if you do not want it, we can leave it here, and buy whatever prepared food you want.”
Not wanting to hurt my feelings she just reluctantly went along, I loaded the Mole into the car, making sure it would not roll out, and spill. After taking a shower we went off, during the way she expressed her doubts people will like it.
I just told her: “Look if no one like it at least I will have something to eat myself” My Mole was not your usual stuff, it was a vegetarian Mole, I have being a Vegetarian for most of my life since I was seventeen, and I was not about to eat turkey, anyway.
It was a gorgeous drive day by the coast, and we got to her cousin’s house and put my Mole on the large table, her cousin was also somewhat alarmed when se took the lead off, but she just asked what the name of it was.
A few minutes later with most of the people invited already there she, announced everybody to pick up a plate and go and self serve, on a line at the table, I did not rush, and took my place at the line, I could observe everybody passing over my dish, first looking at it with surprise, on their eyes, and bypassing it without touching it.
When my time came I served myself some mashed potatoes and a big quantity of my Mole on top of it, already figuring I will be the only one eating it.
I went to the patio and sat a table and the husband of her cousin sat in front of me, with his plate, and immediately he noticed the Mole on my plate and he hesitantly asked me:
“What’s that you are eating?”
He got curious and said to me: “Pardon me, I am curious, will you mind if I have a little taste of your plate?
Pushing the plate in front of him I said; Sure help yourself to it”
He did, took a forkful, and not three seconds after he put it on his mouth, without saying a word he jumped suddenly off the table with his own plate, and took off almost running into the kitchen.
My first thought was he didn’t like it, and went to spit it out from his mouth, away from me, not to offend me. Looking at the tables couldn’t see any of my Mole at anyone’s plate.
To my surprise the husband whose name I can’t recall, a dentist, returned a couple of minutes later with a new big plate with my Mole almost overflowing from his plate!
As soon as he sat and started eating it, he would stop chewing for a moment, raving loud enough for some people to hear him clearly, about how delicious it was!
Soon, one, by one of the people on our table got up with their plates, and shy at first, put just a little bit on their plates, but after taking a couple of bites, they will rise again and run into the kitchen coming back with full plates loaded with Mole. I guess word got around, and almost everybody from the about twenty-five people at the gathering, went back to the kitchen to get some of it.
I took a breath of relief, and people wanted to know who cooked that dish, and what was the name of it, and congratulated me.
I finished my plate, and went into the kitchen to find my girlfriend’s cousin, and a friend of her, both taking turns at licking the gravy sauce with their fingers, of the already empty big pot.
My girlfriend was behind me, and saw them in disbelief, there was plenty of turkey, and all other dishes at the big table but my Mole was all gone!
As her cousin finished polishing my pot, with her fingers over the sink, and licking the last vestiges of the gravy from it.
Turning to my surprised girlfriend, I mockingly said:
“No one will even eat it, right?”
Her cousin, or the other woman said: “Are you kidding? If I would not worry about getting it all over my head I will stick my face into the pot, and lick it!”
On our way back home she fumed: “And the worst part of it, I still do not know how Mole tastes, promise me you will cook it again for me, you could have saved some for me!”
“You wasted your chance today dear, maybe if I am in the mood for Mole on Christmas, I will cook some. ”
I guess, that was one of my small contributions, to the broadening for cultural foreign food appreciation, in our country.
THE MOON CAST AN OMINUS PRESENCE
On October 31st we had a blue Moon at the furthest point from the Earth named a micro Moon this bring a lot of emotions , and feelings on edge, like if we need more at this time of uncertainty, pandemic, economical, and political upheaval, and events coming out of nowhere, exacerbating nerves already on edge.
Usually I got no idea what my next post will be about until the moment I seat to write a new post, today my problem it’s not what to write about it, but to try to say as little as possible, without missing something that may be important and meaningful as well.
First the Holiday with Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Death in a row, that today on our globalized World seem to amalgamate into a single thing, at least on my neck of the woods.
So be weary of heighten emotional states of mind, try to be cheerful, avoid anger if things do not go the way you want them to be, keep in mind you just have to adjust and work your mindset to be happy regardless, remember it’s for you to change your attitude, by accepting things as they are, sure you also can start a way to change the situations you consider they need change, but do it in a peaceful state of mind, not in a angry, and destructive way.
The most important thing, be ready for change.
The idea of providing some verses of Rumi as our guide for this trying times come to mind.
“You have woken up late, lost and perplexed but don’t rush to your books looking for answers, pick a flute instead and let your Heart play.”
“What comes will go, what is found, will be lost again. But what you are is beyond coming and going, and beyond description.”
“Yesterday I was clever and wanted to change the World. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“Half of life is lost in charming others. The other half is lost through anxieties caused by others. Leave this play, you have played enough.”
“I choose to love you in silence… For in silence I find no rejection. I choose to love you in my loneliness, for in my loneliness no one owns you but I.
I choose to adore you from a distance, for distance shield us both from pain.
I choose to imprison you on my thoughts, for in my thoughts freedom is for me to decide.
I choose to kiss you in the wind, for the wind is gentler than my lips.
I choose to hold you only in my dreams, for in my dreams there is no end.”
Be Lost In The Call
“Lord, said David, since you do not need us,why did you create these two worlds?
Reality replied: O prisoner of time,
I was a secret treasure of kindness and generosity,
and I wished this treasure to be known,
so I created a mirror: its shining face, the heart;
its darkened back, the world;
The back would please you if you’ve never seen the face.
Has anyone ever produced a mirror out of mud and straw?
Yet clean away the mud and straw,
and a mirror might be revealed.
Until the juice ferments a while in the cask,
it isn’t wine. If you wish your heart to be bright,
you must do a little work.
My King addressed the soul of my flesh:
You return just as you left.
Where are the traces of my gifts?
We know that alchemy transforms copper into gold.
This Sun doesn’t want a crown or robe from God’s grace.
He is a hat to a hundred bald men,
a covering for ten who were naked.
Jesus sat humbly on the back of an ass, my child!
How could a zephyr ride an ass?
Spirit, find your way, in seeking lowness like a stream.
Reason, tread the path of selflessness into eternity.
Remember God so much that you are forgotten.
Let the caller and the called disappear;
be lost in the Call.”
Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
Life finds no shore,
Man finds not a safe Port.
Life slides by, and we pass…
Many poets, and writers, have described life as a river, a mere stream coming down a mountain, going through placid valleys, and dying by the Sea.
Also I should add, along the way it picks all kinds of things, too many to even remember all, and a recollection of memories who define who we are, what we did, and where we end…
A past that, if well spent, will bring a modicum of satisfaction, to some many regrets, but if it brings us a little bit of Wisdom, then life it’s well worth.
You ask many men, or women of some age, what they think of life, their response will be as varied as their experience.
Where I am from, we like to say, people’s opinion of the fair, they went to try their luck, or skills in gambling, depend on how much they won, or lost on it.
It comes to the reason that if they had a bad day, and they lost their shirt, the fair was not good at all, but if you win some money, well you will be as happy according as to how much money you made.
Not that life it’s a gambling casino, but if for lack of wisdom you feel a looser, well, whose fault it was?
The great Stoic philosopher Epictetus used to say: It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it. As you think, so you become …
Ibn Arabi the great Andalusian Sufi sheik said:
Be vigilant, God takes from you in what He gives you, He only takes from you, so you can become steadfast and so He will love you. He loves the steadfast.When He loves you, He treats you as a lover treats his beloved. It can be that the achievement of your desire is in your best interest, or it may be that your best interest lies in your desire not being achieved. He knows what it’s best for you, and what works for your best interest. if you dislike what is given to you at the moment, later you will praise Him when you see his Wisdom. God knows better and you cannot know his judgement until the end of the affair. His love of you is to look at the steadfastness which He provides you when He takes from you, the losses you may suffer in property and family, or what it makes difficult for you to leave. There is not a thing he removes from you that you may not have a replacement for it with God.
As it’s said:
“Everything you part away from, can be replaced, but if you part from God, there is no replacement.”
Ultimately the responsibility of life, it’s in our own hands, and depends solely on us, and our proper attitude we take when things do not seem to please us, but character, deeds, an attitude it’s for us to choose, and enact, later what may happen will be the result of it.
And even if it may seem life it’s unfair to us, meanwhile there may be life left on us, we have a chance to change things, just be steadfast, and wise, on your goals and actions
Serenity, and peace do not reside outside of us, there can be places around the World with great beauty, and peace, but its not as important as serenity and peace within, so seek it in your heart first, and you will have peace of mind, regardless of your surroundings.
“Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn! Look to this Day! For it is Life, the very Life of Life. In its brief course lie all the Verities and Realities of your Existence. The Bliss of Growth, The Glory of Action, The Splendor of Beauty; For Yesterday is but a Dream, And To-morrow is only a Vision; But To-day well lived makes Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope. Look well therefore to this Day! Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!”
The more we grow old, the more things we experience in life, some of them a great surprise, and a thing that makes us ponder at life itself.
It’s meaning, and our lot in it.
And we talk, and feel according as to what we consider it was good, or bad, but we did gain anything on it?
I mean even bad experiences can be a great lesson, and not necessarily a waste of time, or just unfortunate.
It’s not what happen to us but what we do with it.
Many things come from a giving fact, who are our parents were, our place of birth, the chances good, or bad we had to start a life with handicaps, or good fortune, and so many other factors, but in the end we all have to choose our actions according to the situation, and some of us if we are honest, can admit we did, not only a few mistakes, but many.
The sum of good, and bad will add up to what we call to be our destiny.
And we will have to live with that, and make amends if we have the chance, some may choose not to, or even if they do, results may not be as satisfying a we hoped, at least to others.
Mistakes need to be acknowledge first, amends are next, but not always possible, but you always can compensate by doing good in other areas.
Like helping those in need.
You may believe life has no meaning, or moral, but we all can feel the effect of your actions, so be thoughtful, and do not do things that may injure or offend others, that it’s just common sense.
As we grow old, hopefully we acquire experience, and even if unexpected things come our way we learn to sort them out as best we can, example this pandemic, we all had to adjust to it, and act accordingly, some of us are no longer alive, and even more of us may not make it through, but we are all in this upheaval, and living these days who seem to no end in sight.
Well, do as best as you can, and whatever we go through do not focus on the loses, take it as another lesson to profit from.
A new dawn is coming every morning.
“And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope. Look well therefore to this Day! Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!”
To be Human is to be Frail, Transitory, and Perishable, it’s our lot, so Live the best you can, and do the most Good you are able to.
That our current year 2020 has being so far, a trying year for most, if not all of us, is not even news today, since the year beginnings, one disaster, after the other one, not care even to make a list this pandemic just being the top of the awful layered cake, 2020 has being so far.
No doubt, all these messes here, and all over, was if not necessary, a wake up call to all of us to figure out we are fragile, and mortal, and our lives in the context of time nothing but a leaf falling from the tree of Life.
Every disaster carry if not a good thing, a lesson, or an exhortation to be better, and a reminder we are here just for a little while, therefore to use our time wisely, and do not waste your time, and efforts on vanity.
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1. 2
Fires engulf Australia
From the driest September ever in 2018 to the raging fires of January 2020.
On 2 January 41 admitted hospital patients in Wuhan, China, were confirmed to have contracted (laboratory-confirmed) the 2019-nCoV (novel coronavirus); 27 (66%) patients had direct exposure to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. All 41 patients were subsequently relocated from the hospital they had originally been diagnosed in to the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, China.Who declared that its three concerned levels (China country office, Regional Office for the Western Pacific and headquarters) have been working together to respond to the outbreak.
To the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Just in more than a month we have the following crisis, and disasters:
U.S. Civil Unrest. June 26, 2020.
COVID-19 Coronavirus. June 25, 2020.
2020 Spring Tornadoes. June 16, 2020.
Ebola Outbreak. June 15, 2020.
Rohingya Refugee Crisis. June 11, 2020.
Cyclone Amphan. June 7, 2020.
Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis. June 2, 2020.
Yemen Humanitarian Crisis. May 21, 2020.
Of course it could be argued, disasters and crisis are everyday occurrence around the World, but it’s only noticed when it hit us right down our own street.
And on top of it to be incarcerated on our own home because the pandemic, with no end on sight, it doesn’t make things easy for any of us.
And understandably we may be at our wits’ end.
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”― Epictetus
Be at peace.
“There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.”
― Howard Phillips Lovecraft
There is a difference between enjoying your youth and destroying your future.
Who doesn’t remember their youthful days, and look back at that time when you were young, with a sense we were indestructible, and a feeling we could get away with almost everything?
And as carefree, that we felt the World out there was for us to take?
Then we grew up, and we matured, and come to our senses, and as my father liked to say, we no longer thought we could drink the whole Ocean in one gulp.
Now assuming all of you readers are mature and responsible people, let’s make a brief checklist.
Poverty, War and Terrorism, Climate Change, Drug Abuse, Disease, Animal Abuse, Murder, Racism, Pollution, Population Growth, Global Warming, Unemployment, Sexism, Raping, Totalitarianism, Religious Fundamentalists, Severe Income Disparity, Refugees, Violence, Child Abuse, Obesity, Irresponsible Government, and Power, Gun Control issues, Mass Shootings, Fascism, Ignorance, Self Absorption, And spending too much time online.
And that are just a few of the problems that come to mind after Covid-19, that its not over by any means.
So the question, not what the next crisis will be?
But Which of all the above will be next?
Maybe a meteorite out of space?
A nuclear War?
Mass extermination of Species?
Maybe the stage is set for our Human Specie to disappear, or simply to grow up, and act like responsible adults, and do what it’s sensible, and proper to do, rather than act like spoil brats, bent on continuing their usual irresponsible bad behavior.
We all live under the same heaven, and our World it’s finite, we are all interconnected on a subtle level, and what affect one, affect us all, we like it or not. We as a Human specie we are breaking the boundaries of a World in equilibrium, time to do something about it, rather than ignore the warning signs, and keep the madness going.
According to the dictionary this proverb means:
“Turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo.”
Well, I do not know if this apply also to this crisis, since its the first time on my life I am forced to a quarantine, however being somewhat in age, and living by myself for a quarter of a Century, I believe loneliness, doesn’t affect me on a special way, rather more like an inconvenience, not to be able to run errands, and go to eat outside the house, and of course getting my favorite coffee drink, and seat at a coffee house, a pleasure that I indulge for many years now, a few days a week.
A leisurely activity that I miss a bit, but that if not struck by the virus, and gone tomorrow, hope I will enjoy once again, in the future.
I guess for the social types, like extroverted characters, these conditions may be harder to bear, extroverts are often described as talkative, sociable, action-oriented, enthusiastic, friendly, and out-going.
I know, I got brothers, and a daughter who fit the mold, now I smile when at a very young age was determined to live by myself, growing up in a home were everybody including my parents were extroverted, it was just simply exhausting for me. Of course at the time couldn’t understand why I was different, neither my family.
Now, do not misunderstand, I had a happy childhood, and I also participated playing, but more often than not, I rather will be seating and reading by myself, I got to be an expert to focus my attention to my book, and ignore the noise around me.
School also was a problem, a big one, but despite the noise, and all the mayhem that a classroom without a teacher present becomes, also made good friends, but looking back most of those friends were somewhat introverted, and the kind of guy who enjoyed a more relevant type of conversation, rather than play, and general hubbub.
It took me sometime to clear out of jobs who enforced a daily contact with many people, even if I can say when it come to work I always got high marks, in whatever I did, but now looking back and knowing myself better, can clearly see how certain jobs I enjoyed more than others.
When computers arrived at the workplace, I worked for several companies were even in a crowded place, I had the privacy of my cubicle to concentrate on what I was doing, in a few months, I invariably became at the highest top category of producers. And companies will be sad to let me go when finding a more lucrative job.
My last and final job had nothing to do with computers, but it was a small environment, with about seven people, and at least five of them were no doubt introverted, quiet characters, who you could have great conversations, during the frequent lull periods during the day, due to lack of clients. Of course we will get busy with other work, but we could work, and chat, and many clients as well, will enjoy our conversations, I could say our most frequent customers were the ones who even if doing business with us, they preferred us, to others similar businesses because our expertise, not only on matter related to our work, some of them they will even hung up around our place on their free time. They even will say something like:
“This is a place were not only you come for business, but were you can be leaving more wiser, than when you went in.”
Well, what we are gone to do? We may enjoy solitude or not, we all need to go out in order to live a normal life in society, the old days of living in a cave are not an option, but for a few.
A tension in the coronavirus response is that it’s so difficult to get people to accept social distancing that few want to muddle the message with worries about social isolation. But if the ultimate concern is the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, then both dangers need to be addressed.
But we’ve also entered a new period of social pain. There’s going to be a level of social suffering related to isolation and the cost of social distancing that very few people are discussing yet.
Well I hope for most of you to be safe from the pandemic decease, and free from the effects , and troubles of isolation, for all of you and your loved ones.
Keep safe, and use the phone, grab a good book, and finish work, or projects undone around the house, but above all, keep the love flowing to everyone, even if from a safe distance.
Wish the best, to all of you.
Plato treats the subject of education in The Republic as an integral and vital part of a wider subject of the well-being of human society. The ultimate aim of education is to help people know the Idea of the Good, which is to be virtuous.
“A library of wisdom, is more precious than all wealth, and all things that are desirable cannot be compared to it. Whoever therefore claims to be zealous of truth, of happiness, of wisdom or knowledge, must become a lover of books.”
“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life”. “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
Quotes attributed to Plato.
Who said teaching was ever easy?
Socrates paid with his life for the crime of teaching his fellow Athenians.
The importance of a good education its never lost for most parents, its convincing the children the problem.
Yes I know, today getting an education can cost a fortune, and not every parent can send his children to a good school, but I am sure every conscious parent will do his best to give their child the best they can.
Reflections On The Hardships Of Teaching.
Well, what can we say, simply put to be a good teacher it takes many sacrifices, and love, yes you got to love teaching, otherwise you are not just wasting your time but worst, endangering the education of those who you teach.
If you may want to make money, being a teacher its probably not for you, only a few very specialized teachers may do that, and not necessarily will be the one you remember as a great inspiration for you, to try to achieve something in life, you may find those very early on your education.
Yes, that wonderful teacher who inspired you to really start reading, or be conscious about the neatness of your homework, or simply made the class not boring, and inspired you to find more about it on your own time.
Yes every teacher has to deal with nightmare students, its bad enough when you have two, or three, bad apples, at the classroom but sometimes its ridiculous!
Teaching Begins At Home
Usually bad discipline at home translate as bad behavior at school, if the parents are responsible, and dedicated parents, the child will be well behaved at the classroom.
Yes unfortunately bad behavior at school, doesn’t mean the school its lousy, but that you are not doing the proper thing with your children at home.
You will be surprised, at how many 21 year old youngsters behave worst than a child of seven, and its simply because they did not have at home any discipline whatsoever, very likely the parents were not taught either, or criminally abandoned their responsibility, and let children to themselves, or the result of broken homes, where the responsible parent spent most time at work, and children grew on their own.
Behavior its learned at home, period.
How do I know that?
Well, currently I am privately tutoring a 21 year old youngster, who mentally its at twelve at most!
He cannot do homework, its always late, he wants to change the class at his convenience, day, or hours, and place, regardless what we agree before, he questions me at every turn, like if what I am teaching its not true, he always knows better in an argument, about things he does not know anything, practically I have to force him to read a page on his phone, about what I am trying to teach him, so he realize I am not talking gibberish, or making it up, that by the way, take him a long time since he reads but very slowly, his phone its not a tool for research, but for entertainment, often bring next time a book on the subject we were arguing, and then he wants for me to give him the book for free!
Once I loaned a book for him to make a copy, he didn’t, he had a week to do it, and have to ask him several times for it, until his mother promise me she would return it to me, she did.
I mean the youngster its not stupid, bad, or mentally impaired, he is smart, he is just terribly childish.
Only child, parents divorced, mother works daily away from home, the youngster cannot keep a job, can you wonder why?
He may be 21, but he has not gain on maturity, period.
Being a teacher its not easy.
But it can be summed up on a brief list:
Disruptive environment, or simply put students discipline problems.
The rules of teaching are constantly changing. In some aspects, this is good while occasionally it may also be bad. Teaching is not immune to fads.
Great teachers invest a tremendous amount of time outside of the time spent with their students. They understand that all these things have a significant impact on student learning. However, teachers must commit to stepping away from their teaching responsibilities from time to time so that their personal life does not suffer in some aspect.
Students are not the same, they are at different levels, and some require more time and effort than others, in a crowded classroom, well it will be difficult to say the least.
Lack of funding, reflects on overcrowded classrooms, lacks of qualified teachers, books, materials, lack of time for personal attention and many other maladies, that unfortunately reflects also on the quality of the education for the absence of money.
And of course Parental involvement, or the lack of it.
In the old days traveling had a mayor inconvenience, if we can call it that, just an inconvenience, but in fact your own integrity, and physical security was at risk, not only you could loose your money and goods, but your life, and women be abused sexually by the bandits, even kidnapped.
A highwayman was a robber who stole from travellers. This type of thief usually travelled and robbed by horse as compared to a footpad who travelled and robbed on foot; mounted highwaymen were widely considered to be socially superior to footpads.
Such criminals operated in Great Britain from the Elizabethan era until the early 19th century. In many other countries, they persisted for a few decades longer, until the mid or late 19th century. But of course robbery on the roads, and piracy on the many Seas of the World, have been common since the early annals of History.
And elsewhere around the World, even today Piracy on the High seas its common.
I guess we will never get rid of it, until every Human being on the planet turns if not into a Saint, at least into an honest man, or woman for that matters, they were also cases of ladies of who robbed the Highways, and the High Seas.
The above images romanticized portraits of such nefarious individuals, more likely they were as ugly as the deeds, that they perpetuated.
But lets get to the point, today Cyberspace its a new dimension of traveling, and due to total lack of regulation, and lack of responsibility from our governments, and the many sharks of profiteering it thrives with old style Highwaymen, and Pirates, who do their business, by extracting ransom from the common sheep flock, that mean us the common person, now days titled the consumer, forced to pay a ransom to navigate unmolested into the dangerous, and full of Highwaymen, and Pirates of Cyberspace.
With not privacy to protect, or be invaded by adds, and soliciting, like there’s no tomorrow, they may even hold your computer for ransom, or spy to rob you, at least Dick Turpin got caught and was hanged from the neck.
An account in The Gentleman’s Magazine for 7 April 1739 notes Turpin’s brashness: “Turpin behaved in an undaunted manner; as he mounted the ladder, feeling his right leg tremble, he spoke a few words to the topsman, then threw himself off, and expired in five minutes.”
I am not a vicious man claiming for capital death to such individuals, but yes, like maybe most of you will like an end to that vicious invasion of privacy, and endless soliciting, that has become the experience of traveling Online, and the fact there’s almost no way to travel undisturbed, if not paying for protection, itself the reason to countless legal scams, used by the same companies you pay to protect you. They thrive on your fear and impotence.
“The past is preserved only in darkness, the future is not raised to the level of an image, as something which can be anticipated. It is the symbolic expression which first creates the possibility of looking backward and looking forward… What occurred in the past, now separated out from the totality of representations, no longer passes away, once the sounds of language have placed their seals on it and given it a certain stamp.”
Archaeologists have discovered what they believe could be the earliest known writing. A 12,000-year-old pictograph was found within the ancient settlement of Gobeklitepe in southeast Anatolia, Turkey.
The pictograph, chiseled into an obelisk, reportedly depicts a traditional sky burial whereby bodies are left outdoors to be picked apart by scavengers.
There is speculation that astrology of some form appeared in the Sumerian period in the 3rd millennium BC.
By the 16th century BC, the extensive employment of omen-based astrology can be evidenced in the compilation of a comprehensive reference work known as Enuma Anu Enlil. Its contents consisted of 70 cuneiform tablets comprising 7,000 celestial omens. Texts from this time also refer to an oral tradition – the origin and content of which can only be speculated upon.
Enuma Anu Enlil is the principal source of omens used in the regular astrological reports that were sent to the Neo-Assyrian king by his entourage of scholars. There are well over 500 such reports published in volume 8 of the State Archives of Assyria. A majority of these reports simply list the relevant omens that best describe recent celestial events and many add brief explanatory comments concerning the interpretation of the omens for the benefit of the king.
A typical report dealing with the first appearance of the moon on the first day of the month is exemplified by Report 10 from volume 8 of the State Archives:
If the moon becomes visible on the first day: reliable speech; the land will be happy.
If the day reaches its normal length: a reign of long days.
If the moon at its appearance wears a crown: the king will reach the highest rank.
The series was probably compiled in its canonical form during the Kassite period (1595–1157 BCE) but there was certainly some form of prototype Enuma Anu Enlil current in the Old Babylonian period (1950–1595 BCE). It continued in use well into the 1st millennium, the latest datable copy being written in 194 BCE. It is believed that the first 49 tablets were transmitted to India in the 4th or 3rd centuries BCE and that the final tablets dealing with the stars had also arrived in India just before the start of the common era.
At this time Babylonian astrology was solely mundane, and prior to the 7th century BC the practitioners’ understanding of astronomy was fairly rudimentary. Because of their inability to accurately predict future celestial phenomena and planetary movement very far in advance, interpretations were done as the phenomena occurred or slightly before. By the 4th century, however, their mathematical methods had progressed enough to calculate future planetary positions with reasonable accuracy, at which point extensive ephemerides began to appear.
Otto Eduard Neugebauer (May 26, 1899 – February 19, 1990) was an Austrian American mathematician and historian of science who became known for his research on the history of astronomy and the other exact sciences in antiquity and into the Middle Ages. By studying clay tablets, he discovered that the ancient Babylonians knew much more about mathematics and astronomy than had been previously realized. The National Academy of Sciences has called Neugebauer “the most original and productive scholar of the history of the exact sciences, perhaps of the history of science, of our age.”
And what this great original thinker has to tell us?
In a nutshell, that the Babylonians discovered Algebra, a symbolic, simple today, but at the time a revolutionary Human discovery, and furthermore he thought this discovery was due to the fact the Babylonians were the product of two different people the Sumerian, and the Acadian, two totally different cultures, the Acadians were Semite,.
Most historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a West Asian people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence), a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European agglutinative language isolate. It was not an inflected language, contrary to its Semitic neighbors.
They had a hell of a time to understand each other, the usual language and text of the Sumerians, so in order to understand each other they got to acquire new mental skills, and thanks to these efforts Babylonians were the first in getting to understand the meaning and use of an abstract symbolism.
Every Algebraic operation says Neugebauer, presupposes to understand certain fixed symbols, both for mathematical operations and for the mathematical quantities to which they apply.
In the absence of this conceptual symbolism, it would not be possible to combine quantities that are not numerically determined and designated, nor to derive new combinations from them, but a symbolism presented itself immediately necessary in the writing of the Acadian texts … Therefore the Babylonians had a more important instrument for proper and adequate Algebraic development.
I am aware that Science today its dismissive of the Symbolic thought, however it escapes them how these accomplishments of the Babylonians, not only provided the basic Algebraic for mathematics, but also a rich Symbolism that escapes them on the Ontological subjective nature of Man.
That like a undercurrent submerged within our psyche, it pours a torrent of symbolic images into our dreams, desires, and behaviors to which, no matter the amount of objectivity, and concrete mind it is impossible to bury forever, in the annals of time, since It is an integral and inseparable part of our Human nature. Just as the eternal feminine is the counterpart of the masculine, and our right cerebral side, the counterpart of the left.
We as Humans we seem to be condemned to live in the present, but to be looking back at the past with longing, and ahead to the future with dread.
A Spanish poet of the 15th Century by the name of Jorge Manrique wrote:
“Stanzas about the Death of his Father”) is Jorge Manrique’s best composition. In fact, Lope de Vega pronounced it in humbled admiration to its superior craftsmanship,”worthy to be printed in letters of gold”. It is a funeral eulogy dedicated to the memory of Rodrigo Manrique (his father), who died on 11 November 1476 in Ocaña. Jorge thought that his father led a life worth living. He makes a reference to three lives:
1.-The terrestrial life that ends in death
2.-The life of the fame, that lasts longer (Kleos Greek)
3.-The eternal life after death, that has no end.
In the first stanzas he said:
Remember the sleeping soul
Fan the brain and wake up!
How life goes
How death comes,
So swiftly pleasure is gone,
How, after memory,
It gives pain;
How, in our opinion,
Any time past,
Always was better.
This translation its kind of literal
Here its another one more poetic:
Let from its dream the soul awaken,
And reason mark with open eyes
The scene unfolding,—
How lightly life away is taken,
How cometh Death in stealthy guise,—
At last beholding;
What swiftness hath the flight of pleasure
That, once attained, seems nothing more
Than respite cold;
How fain is memory to measure
Each latter day inferior
To those of old.
And that is as true today, as it was many years ago. So no wonder we more likely look at the future with at least some reserve, if not dread.
A future of our society in doubt, by the many problem that plague us.
Overpopulation, over pollution, over extinction of species, vital to keep our World habitable, Political morass, and unwillingness to do nothing positive to deal with the problems, rather than see the train coming at the crossroad, and unwilling to put the breaks before attempting crossing, playing a gamble that they will beat the oncoming disaster.
Well I do not need to tell you, there is a high price to pay for stupidity, combined with stubbornness, and of course you know the definition of insanity, some people attribute it to the darling of quotes; Albert Einstein:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
No wonder people have nightmares about our almost sure Dystopian future, just imagine..!
The recent uptick in dystopian films and post-apocalyptic scenarios seems more urgent and more extreme than it has in the past.
Ostensibly set in the future, the post-apocalyptic mode can function as a window on the present, the prognosis its not good.
The list of environmental disasters today now its divided into categories, and listed in alphabetical order:
Agricultural, Biodiversity, Human Health, Industrial, Mining, Oil Industry, Nuclear, and divisions as what element of the environment they affect, like Air, Fresh Water, Land, Oceans.
And I do not want to depress you, or overwhelm you with the long list on each category, all you got to do is pay attention to the news.
Rather than do that, I will show some of the things are important, to fix our problems.
We need to fight Ignorance, and Mediocrity, the reason of so much lack of Consciousness. No matter where you go, almost everything is exactly the same and it’s getting worse by the day, in other words an ignorant person its a blind person, and the blind cannot lead us, and that its what we have leader wise, and I am not talking just about our country, Worldwide its pretty much the same, maybe with few exceptions.
A cross country trip meant you got a taste of the different flavors of life. You experienced things you’d only experience in a certain state. However, these days everywhere you go it’s pretty much the same deal, malls and chain stores everywhere, all offering the same product you can get elsewhere. Worse, yet is the fact that people seem to desire this mediocrity for it’s comfort factor and have lost all sense of adventure. People desire mediocrity so much that it’s becoming the only thing offered. Look around yourself, everything is mundane. Even tattooing before a thing for tribal aborigines, and outcasts, has gotten it’s fair share of this cancer.
Line at a popular Tattoo parlor.
The population growth , its just too much to be handled by our small planet. The Statistical Institute estimated that the world’s population in 1920 was 1,791,496,000.
The current world population is 7.7 billion as of October 2019 according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by Worldometers.
I am not usually a pessimist, and believe the World somehow will go as and old Italian song said:
Gira el Mundo Gira – Il volo – Il Mondo.
Just too many of us, with such unruly crowd, and doing whatever seems everybody please, with no regard to anything else, specially to the fragility of our environment, a Dystopian future?
If we keep business as usual, but do not worry the World will keep turning, just maybe with a lot less of us, after all the World has faced bigger crisis, in the past, ask the Dinosaurs.
MEN UNIQUE AS A LIVING BEING, LIVING A PARALLEL LIFE OF SUBJECTIVITY, AND QUESTIONING THE MEANING OF LIFE.
Chinese Hermit Today
“Man is always inclined to regard the small circle in which he lives as the center of the world and to make his particular, private life the standard of the universe and to make his particular, private life the standard of the universe. But he must give up this vain pretense, this petty provincial way of thinking and judging.”
It is generally acknowledged that auto-gnosis, or self knowledge its the main purpose of philosophy, even if through History this has been debated.
“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.” –Socrates.
Cogito, ergo sum is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”. The phrase originally appeared in French as je pense, donc je suis in his Discourse on the Method, so as to reach a wider audience than Latin would have allowed. It appeared in Latin in his later Principles of Philosophy. As Descartes explained, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt..” A fuller version, articulated by Antoine Léonard Thomas, aptly captures Descartes’s intent: dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”). The concept is also sometimes known as the cogito.
This proposition became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purport form a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.
Jakob Johann Freiherr von Uexküll was a Baltic German biologist who worked in the fields of muscular physiology, animal behavior studies, and the cybernetics of life. Works by scholars such as Kalevi Kull connect Uexküll’s studies with some areas of philosophy such as phenomenology and hermeneutics.
Jakob von Uexküll is also considered a pioneer of semiotic biology, or biosemiotics. However, despite his influence (on the work of philosophers Max Scheler, Ernst Cassirer, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Humberto Maturana, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (in their A Thousand Plateaus), for example) he is still not widely known, and his books are mostly out of print in German and in English.
Jakob Johann von Uexküll
In a way he was an enemy of the idea there was an absolute reality of things, that could be the same to every different living organism, every organism possess a specific monadic, it posses its own schemes, and patterns, that give the a particular, and peculiar related to itself, and reason to be.
Its only a coincidence, we find a usefulness to certain plants, or animals, and other act as our enemies, or they seem to do so, he argues, they are like us, looking for their own convenience, even if unconsciously.
For many years scientist, and philosophers alike imbued on the idea of a rationalist explanation of the World, and Being, given by biology, and Science combined negated what has been the province of Philosophy, and Religion for centuries.
Man difference in reality to the rest of Nature Kingdoms, its his own subjectivity.
Rousseau proclaimed the natural goodness of man and believed that one man by nature is just as good as any other. For Rousseau, a man could be just without virtue and good without effort. According to Rousseau, man in the state of nature was free, wise, and good and the laws of nature were benevolent. It follows that it was civilization that enslaved and corrupted man and made him unnatural. Because in the order of nature all men were equal, it also follows that distinction and differentiation among men are the products of culture and civilization. Because man is by nature a saint, it must be the corrupting influence of society that is responsible for the misconduct of the individual.
“The body of a savage man being the only instrument he understands, he uses it .. reflection is a state contrary to nature, and that a thinking man is a depraved animal. “
To go beyond his biology it represents for Rousseau, not a step forward, but a detriment.
The Symbolic Universe
There is no way out, back to square one.
Man cannot escape, he is a thinking animal, a self reflective being, who meditates, and reflects upon himself.
He does not only live in a physical Universe, but also in a Symbolic Universe.
And therefore: Language, Myth, Art, Knowledge, and Religion, are as part of himself as breathing, eating, and reproducing.
Every progress on those fields, they refine, and reinforce progress.
“There is no remedy against this reversal of the natural order. Man cannot escape from his own achievement. He cannot but adopt the conditions of his own life. No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe. Language, myth, art, and religion are parts of this universe. They are the varied threads which weave the symbolic net, the tangled web of human experience. All human progress in thought and experience refines and strengthens this net. No longer can man confront reality immediately; he cannot see it, as it were, face to face. Physical reality seems to recede in proportion as man’s symbolic activity advances. Instead of dealing with the things themselves man is in a sense constantly conversing with himself.
He has so enveloped himself in linguistic forms, in artistic images, in mythical symbols or religious rites that he cannot see or know anything except by the interposition of this artificial medium. His situation is the same in the theoretical as in the practical sphere. Even here man does not live in a world of hard facts, or according to his immediate needs and desires. He lives rather in the midst of imaginary emotions, in hopes and fears, in illusions and disillusions, in his fantasies and dreams. ‘What disturbs and alarms man,’ said Epictetus, ‘are not the things, but his opinions and fantasies about the things.”
Your brain is the most complex, mind-blowing organ in the universe. It is estimated to have over 100 billion neurons (also called nerve cells or brain cells), which is about the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. … The action potential of a single neuron is like a lightning bolt that can stimulate other neurons.
Famous sociologist Mircea Eliade coined the term “homo religiosus” to describe a kind of person who shares particular attitudes with all people of faith.
Do the similarities among world religions indicate a concomitant similarity among religious people? Eliade is convinced that they do:
Religious man assumes a particular and characteristic mode of existence in the world and, despite the great number of historico-religious forms, this characteristic mode is always recognizable.
Whatever the historical context in which he is placed, homo religiosus always believes that there is an absolute reality, the sacred, which transcends this world but manifests itself in this world, thereby sanctifying it and making it real. He further believes that life has a sacred origin and that human existence realizes all of its potentialities in proportion as it is religious – that is, participates in reality.
The gods created man and the world, the culture heroes completed Creation, and the history of all these divine and semidivine works is preserved in the myths. By reactualizing sacred history, by imitating the divine behavior, man puts and keeps himself close to the gods – that is, in the real and significant.
Where did this “common, interior religious disposition” come from?
Did it come from the teaching of religious people within an already formed religious community, or rather did it come from something within himself — which he brought to the community of belief?
Religious communities teach lessons and doctrines to their adherents – how their religious rituals function, the details of the myths, the meaning of various symbols, colors, and actions, the sacredness of particular places and times, etc.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
“Eternity He who binds himself to a joy Does the winged life destroy. But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”
Sacred Space, Or Holy Ground
What it used to be an almost forgotten religious tradition, relegated to the past, as modernity took us away from Myth, and Religions, it seems to be having a sort of personal renaissance, and I mean personal, because no longer it’s attached to a particular creed of Faith, or at a designated place by those traditions, but to a personal subjective feeling within ourselves, devoid from the trappings of ancient Religions.
It doesn’t mean, the old traditional places are without devotees, by the contrary, more than ever by the facility of communication, and the easiness of traveling, they have experienced a surge of believers, ready to pay, to fulfil their piety by going into pilgrimage to the Holy sites.
The Personal Sacred Space
I mean , the average person, the lukewarm spiritual, but not religious individual may not attend the crowded religious festivals around the World, but hold now a belief that certain geographical places, hold on, an energy or power, that you can feel once there.
It’s popular now to hear of such places as Vortices , or Vortex of energy, numerous places around the World suddenly are declared Sacred Space by your neighbor, friend, coworker, etc.
And there is talk of such places, and many of us had traveled to places where you feel there’s something special to them, once you get there. Every big city has some place not too far relatively speaking, but also not that close, where you should be able to experience at least peace, and relaxation, accompanied by a feel good vibe, among beautiful, serene surroundings. this be a charming Town, a Desert, a Mountain, a hidden Valley, or whatever place you feel it’s “A Special Place.”
And if I would agree it’s special for many, its not for others.
Well, the main thing they travel there, but do not live there!
Most people fail to understand that well being, peace, and happiness, do not reside in a Shangri- La mythical geographical place, but is a totally subjective state of being, given at any moment by our feelings, and state of mind, within our hearts.
So it’s easy to be fooled by a sense of peace, serenity and awe, at the particular place that seems to trigger the experience, and therefore always searching, or returning to the places we believe trigger the experience.
But also there’s nothing wrong with feeling special in certain places close to our hearts, because our past its linked to them, or special people, a parent or grandmother, etc. Or we just grow there in happiness, as children, but then moved away, and we are nostalgic, and we yearn for those days gone. They are special places, at least to us, someone else may not share the experience, I even wrote something in this blog about it.
I mean it’s fun to travel and vacation, to such places, but to believe you had found Paradise, hardly.
Paradise it a state of Being, not a Geographical place.
Rene Daumal Mount Analogue
French writer Rene Daumal wrote a little unfinished novel; Mount Analogue.
The novel is both bizarre and allegorical, detailing the discovery and ascent of a mountain, which can only be perceived by realizing that one has travelled further in traversing it than one would by travelling in a straight line, and can only be viewed from a particular point when the sunrays hit the earth at a certain angle.
“Its summit must be inaccessible, but its base accessible to human beings as nature made them. It must be unique and it must exist geographically. The door to the invisible must be visible.”
Daumal died before the novel was completed, providing an uncanny one-way quality to the journey. Father Sogol – the “Logos” spelled backwards – is the leader of the expedition—the expedition to climb the mysterious mountain that unites Heaven and Earth.
The novel also marks the first use of the word “peradam” in literature, an object that is revealed only to those who seek it.
“One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, “harder than diamond,” and it is; or “father of the diamond,” and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean “Adam’s stone,” having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal’s great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops. The peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue. Therefore, it is the standard of all currency, as gold is for us.”
Daumal compares art and alpinism in this novel, saying:
Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action.
You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again…
So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above. While climbing, take note of all the difficulties along your path. During the descent, you will no longer see them, but you will know that they are there if you have observed carefully.
There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know. .
Our Sacred Space
It’s fashionable now day to build your own Sacred space, this be a retreat in your garden, a small Altar, with the symbols, and objects you prefer to include there, located in a corner of your favorite place to meditate, or pray, like many ancient cultures did, and do on the present, I got to confess I grew around that kind of thing, but was little bit of a cynic, an unbeliever, and thought I knew better, today I am just comfortable with having a mat, and a corner where I seat for meditation, and prayer, nothing too elaborated, in fact plainly bare, as facing a wall can be, but I got friends who go through the effort of seeking all kind of beautiful, and special things and create an elaborated Altar piece according to their taste.
If inclined you can do the same, if you do not have one yet, according to your particular beliefs, and taste.
But do not forget, Heaven and Earth are everywhere, but first you need to find them within you, then you will be able to behold them everywhere.
Please, Put It On Writing
Words are easily spoken.
And be swept by a gust of wind
So swiftly, and end nowhere…
Never reaching the ear,
To the one you intended,
Or bounce aimlessly,
And reach the wrong person.
If you write it instead,
Maybe one day, someone
May read it.
And the words
May grow like a seed,
Nurtured by a thirsty
So, please write me
Even a line will suffice,
To who is in need of
In truth, it may take
Before finding an echo,
And do not run into
The burning book crowd.
We need to say it,
So lets talk writing it,
To express what it’s hidden
And bring it out,
Since even you
May had ignored it.
Thoughts are difficult
To express with words,
In writing you can go back
And correct it,
But never so,
A word that incautiously
Left your Lips…
Let your fingers do the
Work for you.
They allow your heart,
To say what words would fail.
And bring the pleasure of
And who knows?
Maybe they will echo
On someone’s Heart.
The arrow of your
Thoughts, will score
A bull’s eye.
Then they will
Accomplish what these
Words were intended for.
Why Introverts Like Writing, And Can Be very Good At.
To be honest, not all writers are introverts. Literary greats such as Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Anaïs Nin, and Mark Twain are thought to have been extroverts, but maybe they had some elements who they share with introverts.
But many Writers, Artist and Scientist, do self-identify as introverts, such as J.K. Rowling and John Green, Chopin, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton. Other famous introverted writers are thought to include Agatha Christie, Charlotte Brontë, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Homer, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, Ayn Rand, Dr. Seuss and… the list goes on and on.
Yes, anyone can write. But it takes a certain type of person to create worlds in their head, work in complete isolation for hours on end, and strive to get every word just right.
If you’re an introvert who loves writing, it’s probably in part because you get to work alone. There are no staff meetings, no small talk, no group brainstorming sessions, and no social burnout when you’re writing. It’s just you, your notebook, or laptop, and whatever your inner world devises.
Now, I also believe many of our fellow bloggers, who love to post, knowingly, or unknowingly they are attracted to read, and write, because it’s part of their inner drive, or character nature, from being an Introverted personality.
And that is why I titled my post as:
Writing is the Art, of bringing to Light, that what previously was Hidden within yourself.
The Passion Of Creation
And for that we first need to take the first steps , and start running, and to gain momentum jump over the fence, and realize we are who we are, writers at heart, and we can be as good as we work hard to polish ourselves, and perfect our skills.
I am not inclined to seek help, or look for advice from anyone, but there its nothing wrong with you, if you do that, my knowledge come from an early habit of reading, and an eclectic taste for it, only once I was taken to a beginner’s writer’s class by a friend, I was soon disappointed by the teacher when first thing he did was to ask us to write a small story, to a group of people who knew nothing about writing, and hardly ever read a book, I could tell, by their limited knowledge of authors, during the class. If I would have been the teacher, I rather have read them a small good story, and talk about it, instead than asking them to create anything, since they were not properly read, by a long stretch of the imagination, you have to hear some of the stuff they wrote, and sat patiently after to hear it, I do not know, even now, when remembering it, if to cry, or to laugh.
My advice then is to read a lot first, be voracious and read all kind of stuff. You will be surprised at the things I read, and write elsewhere, and not in my blog.
Of course each of us may have our own inclinations, given by many factors, too large to mention here, but the reason why, we all have different lives. But of course you got to be possessed by your inner whispering Daemon, as Socrates described it:
“Perhaps it may seem strange that I go about and interfere in other people’s affairs to give this advice in private, but do not venture to come before your assembly and advise the state. But the reason for this, as you have heard me say at many times and places, is that something divine and spiritual [“daemonic” in original text] comes to me…” (Plato, Socrates Apology: 31c.d.)
What to Write?
If your asking yourself this question, you are at the beginning of your Journey as a writer.
All writer’s have a story. Whatever we write is about us, or somehow related to our lives. As our taste in reading, and the daily events we live through, whatever you may write it should come from deep within your heart. Your story is also something which lies in your heart so mostly whatever people write is somehow related to them. Their personal Daemon, or demons may drive them, lets not forget the desperate souls that poured their angst, in writing.
Creative people its said are mainly extroverts, writing being a creative process, should have many extroverts, I sort of disagree with that way of thinking, recently someone said:
“Brainstorming builds on combination of ideas from multiple people, when ideas from one person are enhanced by another, leading to a product that none of the participants in the brainstorming session could have envisioned individually. In my personal experience, my best ideas came out when I was with other people. Even if they didn’t consciously contributed to them, even the fact that I had to explain my ideas to them made my original ideas better, and solved problems to which I didn’t have solutions before. Group brainstorming is hard on introverts, though. They would rather just be left alone to think, and thus will not benefit from thoughts of others.”
My answer to that is; you cannot be a real writer if you need to brainstorm with a group of people every time you write, sure you can get fresh ideas that way, but seating and writing, it’s a lonely time consuming process, that writers, inventors and engineers work like artists, and need to be alone, outside of their companies, or left alone when at work, where they can invent and write peacefully without others affecting them.
You want inspiration?
Seek it reading more books, and pondering if you could do it better.
One has to feel comfortable being alone, which is hard for most extroverted people, who find hard to sit by themselves for fifteen minutes in a room with no stimulation, and many of them preferred to zap them with electric shocks just to avoid feeling lonely, and bored, and to avoid thoughts they want to suppress. I guess that’s why jails were invented as punishment for those who break the law, we all humans, need a social environment, to be mentally healthy, but I imagine having to be worst for extroverts.
I know that to talk about psychological characters, it’s controversial, and not politically correct, with some philosophers, and scientist, but we all have an individual character, with preferences, and different choices, and we are compatible, or not with certain characters, and gathering with the wrong type, can end with you, like in a bad relationship, marriage, in trouble, by divorce, or mutual avoidance.
So is with writing, please if you never heard, or read Henry James, William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot, Herman Melville, or Vladimir Nabokov, and those are the ones who provoke more essays to, be made by other writers, in America today. If your primary intent, isn’t the passion of the written word itself, but to be famous, or make money, do yourself a favor, and forget it! You are wasting your time, better become an actor, or a banker, instead.
When eating, we like to say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, in writing the proof is in the pleasure, awe, emotions, and esthetic satisfaction you get from reading it.
REINVENTING THE WORLD AS WE SEE IT, THE DANGER OF CHOOSING POORLY, PLEASE BE CAREFUL OF YOUR OWN NARRATIVE.
The World it´s not as it is, but as we see it, so it is, at least to us.
We live in a World made of images, information, and narratives, collective, and personal, and that we call it Knowledge, or Ignorance for the lack of it, or I would add for the poor quality we choose to feed our minds, and souls with.
We mostly generally, are easy to be program by information, that now day has become not a source for Truth, but for convenience, to people who want to control what you should think about particular issues, be this about the drink you prefer to buy, to the way you should interpret the news you watch, or hear.
It’s common for people to judge you in a poor light, or be wary of your political opinions, just by your favorite source of media. Most never questioning their own favorite source.
We are obedient receptors of information, good, or bad, that indiscriminately, we absorb, and then project into our beliefs, that translate later into actions, based on what you were told, and concluded as truthful, therefore a fact.
Thoughts Long Held, Turn Into Actions
So one day sick to your Soul, of the way things that are going on the World, and full of righteous indignation decide to take some radical action, to put an end to that!
You get out out of bed, or the sofa, and head out to the local help center, and offer yourself as a volunteer to combat misery in the so many varieties it exist; homelessness, hunger, sickness, or whatever your choice of cause to alleviate, or decide to take affirmative action, by being careful to protect the environment, buying and selecting what in your opinion would help to conserve, and protect, rather than destroy.
A Different Scenario
Or you get up, and fed up by all those parasites, who are sucking the blood of the planet decide to put an end to it, by showing your disgust, an with careful planning, decide to teach those people at the local Church, or High School, a lesson they will never forget, for the sin of thinking differently, than you do, how clever, and macho you are by sacrificing yourself, but getting ahead of you, as many of them as you can, or just full of rage on impulse picking your gun collection and shoot whoever you first see on sight, just because you are so pissed off.
Yes, sure we know that those people are mentally disordered, or unbalanced, as we like to call them now day, but ignore totally the fact they are very easily infected with the decease of extremist ideologies, same that they acquired just the same way you got your political ideas, by selectively picking what you choose to believe, and take action against it, regardless if you never got a personal injury from an extreme terrorist, from whatever ideology you hate, and will never carry an act like that.
Well, some mental cases, unbalanced or just full of hate towards people they see as the ¨other,¨ just do that, we frequently see it on the news, now a too common occurrence.
Just last year in 2018 in the United States alone, the mass shootings, not all acts of terror, by a mental disorder case, criteria disputed accordingly, but nevertheless mass shootings.
Shootings that occurred in the United States in 2018. Mass shootings are incidents involving multiple victims of firearm-related violence. The precise inclusion criteria are disputed, and there is no broadly accepted definition.
Of the shootings that meet the criteria for inclusion here, there were 323 shootings, 387 were killed and 1274 injured, and 3 mass shootings occurred at a school.
Shootings, almost as big as the year is long, basically 42 short to make 365, one for every day of the year. about 3.5 days a month without a shooting, average, since more than one shooting can happen on a given day, and a few days may go by without one, but not for too long. You may think there’s a war going on in America. And I guess there is, and its escalating up.
Be Careful, And Selective
My intention it’s to point out, we all have an obligation to be selective, about what kind of person we aspire to be, violence may seem a random epidemic, but it’s not, all of us have a choice, as in the Native American story.
The Two Wolfs
Once upon a time, there was a Cherokee grandfather (or Navajo grandfather), who told his grandson, “Grandson, there are two wolves inside of me. One wolf is white, good and altruistic, generous and kind, and the other wolf is black, mean and greedy, violent and angry. The two wolves are in a constant fight within me.” The grandson, with wide eyes, says, “But which one will win, grandpa?” And the grandfather says after a pause:
“The one which I feed.”
Violence As A Way To Resolve Conflict
Before you absolve yourself of such idea, tell me what are the movies you like to watch?
It’s common to hear guys saying: ‘I like movies with plenty of action!’
What they are really saying is; I like movies with plenty of violence.
¨The government, and Hollywood fill up the viewing agenda on pseudo patriotism and militaristic propaganda. God said “Thou shalt not kill,” and that meant killing a neighbor, another soldier, the bully in your neighborhood, your wife or husband or the third wheel that’s been hanging around while your at work. Killing is simply not an alternative.
Self defense may be alright under certain circumstances. But that’s not the same as parroting violent incidents in the media, and the difference between killing on tv, and taking real lives is like day and night. People bleed, people suffer, people die and they’re not coming back for a sequel. School shootings and the resulting trauma are simply unacceptable. Where does a guy get the idea to shoot hundreds of people through a window opening in a luxury hotel? Violence is epidemic and it’s high time we counter.
The media through the Internet, television, video games and music, degenerates our society. I mean have you ever checked out the video game Grand Theft Auto? All about killing and killing cops, pimping, thieving , and just about any type of violence you can imagine. Johnny 12 year-old is eating it up, and the cognitive, as well as the emotional neurons adapt I suppose, although what will survival of the fittest entail in the future? Macho supporters sing the praises of social Darwinism. If you’re weak minded or unable to contribute than you should probably just die off. Seriously that was America back in the Westward Ho days.¨
Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner. “It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness,” he wrote. “Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”
Wheeler even entertained the thought that the presence of living beings, which are capable of “noticing”, has transformed what was previously a multitude of possible quantum pasts into one concrete history. In this sense, Wheeler said, we become participants in the evolution of the Universe since its very beginning. In his words, we live in a “participatory universe.”
To this day, physicists do not agree on the best way to interpret these quantum experiments, and to some extent what you make of them is (at the moment) up to you. But one way or another, it is hard to avoid the implication that consciousness and quantum mechanics are somehow linked.
Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.
What if, Penrose asked, there are molecular structures in our brains that are able to alter their state in response to a single quantum event. Could not these structures then adopt a superposition state, just like the particles in the double slit experiment? And might those quantum superpositions then show up in the ways neurons are triggered to communicate via electrical signals?
Maybe, says Penrose, our ability to sustain seemingly incompatible mental states is no quirk of perception, but a real quantum effect.
The Heart, The Place Of Meeting, And Transformation.
Ibn ‘Arabi offers a unique framework for explaining the structures of knowledge. His epistemology is referenced within the Oneness of Being (wahdāt al-wujūd), and all knowledge is ultimately the knowledge that the Being has of Itself through Its own self-disclosure. The human form mirrors this self-disclosure, and within this form he situates the center of the human experience in the faculty of the heart (qalb).
He intimates at the highest human potential which is the immediate perception of the Real as It appears to the heart in every moment, a condition of complete union known as the ‘Station of No Station’.
The Mind it’s the feeder, the receptacle it’s the Heart, and the reason you can’t throw in it impurity, or it will cover with rust, and dirt, the mirror of pure consciousness, the Heart. (See my last post in this blog).
And instead of Love, Truth, Peace, Wisdom, Light, and Bliss, you will get Hate, Falsehood, Ignorance, Darkness, and Suffering.
What you imagine yourself to be, that way you will become, and you will be for good, or for bad, your choice.
- Teaching without speaking,
- Producing without possessing,
- Creating without regard to result,
- Claiming nothing,
- The Sage has nothing to lose.
- Tao Te King
Human conditions, often we forget are relative, it matters little to be poor, rich, sick, or healthy, if you have a proper attitude, that of remaining happy with our lot, we must constantly remind ourselves that we are not only the body, but that our true nature is Spirit, and before this fact, all material conditions are only secondary, and immaterial, in relation to our true Nature, and therefore only conditions for ever changing, and of importance relative to the moment we are presently experiencing, not to say they are not important.
Wu wei is a concept literally meaning non-action, non-doing or non-forcing. Wu wei emerged in the Spring and Autumn period to become an important concept in both Taoism an Chinese statecraft.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, thus engaging in effortless and spontaneous, or as water flowing downstream avoiding obstacles naturally, and effortless.
It’s An Attitude
So, Wu Wei, it’s not doing nothing, it’s an attitude, like when things are outside your control, what’s the point of clinging to, and be in the way of it?
There’s many things that require an attitude, of tuning yourself on, and off in a special wavelength, of letting go, like jumping the rope, you do it without thinking, first, of course you just jump, but later, you can add even different ways of doing it, and even get to do fancy moves.
Our mind, and emotions, are like our body, we can train them to do what we want to accomplish, in fact, body, and mind are one, and emotions are the product of our minds. When your body and mind are together as one, you are fully and naturally present in the moment. This is the essence of mindfulness practice. Body and Mind Are One
Pen Shue, or Chih Shue?
The nature of mind has long been one of the most perplexing problems in Western philosophy, achieving particular prominence since the time of Descartes (1596-1650) who, in the second of his Meditations, attempted to distinguish between mind-substances and physical-extended substances. Understanding the nature of mind has been a difficult and still unresolved problem in the West.
According to pen chueh, the mind is believed as being enlightened from the very beginning. Shih chueh believes, however, that there is a definite point in time when we transition from ignorance to realization.
As we shall see, the so-called defiled mind is the activity of mind which conceptualizes, judges, distinguishes subject from object, hates, craves, and constructs the conceptual framework within which we categorize our perceptions and experiences. This defiled mind seems to correspond roughly to the Western notion of mind, but what is this “pure mind”? How is the pure mind related to the defiled mind? Are they two different minds or two aspects of the same thing? Are they separable? Is one more fundamental than the other? If so, in what sense? These tended to be the kinds of questions which the Ch’an Buddhists were concerned with, and it goes without saying that the realization of the pure mind was considered an essential part of the goal for the Ch’an Buddhist.
To get a feeling for this pure mind, the following quotation taken from the sermons of Ch’ao-chou Ta-tien, a disciple of the famous Ch’an master Shih-t’ou (700-790), describes the pure mind:
The master ascended the ‘high seat’ and spoke to the assembled monks, saying:
Now, you students of the Way must realize your own original mind (tzu-chia pen-hsin …. Simply do away with all of your erroneous imaginings, thoughts and discrimination. This is your true mind (chen-hsin ). This mind has nothing to do with sensory realms, with maintaining the experience of silence and quietude, and is completely free from interaction [with these kinds of states]. Just this mind is Buddha, and it is not spiritual cultivation. What is the reason for this? It responds to worldly activities, it is in accord with the illumination [of each thing], it is calm and self-functioning. Penetrating to the place of this functioning cannot be grasped conceptually. And the name we give to this subtle functioning is the ”original mind” (pen-hsin)
O my heart, if you wish to arrive
at the begining of understanding,
To each atom there is a different door,
and for each atom there is a
different way which leads to
the mysterious Being,
of whom I speak.
In this vast Ocean the World
is an Atom, and the Atom a World.
Who knows which, is of more value here,
the Cornelian precious stone,
or a mere pebble?
The faraway king of all the birds, the Simurgh, lets fall a magnificent feather at night, in the center of China, by it’s mere presence, the Chinese great wise scholars, on seeing this single feather knew of this magnificent but mysterious bird, and it’s fame spread all over, therefore the saying:
“Seek knowledge even as far as China.”
Tired of their age-old anarchy, the birds resolve to go in search of him. They know that their king’s name Simurgh, means thirty birds; they know his palace is located on the Qaf mountain, the circular mountain that surrounds the earth.
Mount Qaf in Arabic tradition is a mysterious mountain renowned as the “farthest point of the earth” owing to its location at the far side of the ocean encircling the earth. It is also the only place in this world where the Roc will land.
They embark upon the nearly infinite adventure. They pass through seven valleys or seas; the name of the penultimate is Vertigo; the last, Annihilation. Many pilgrims give up; others perish. Thirty, purified by their efforts, set foot on the mountain of the Simurgh. At last they gaze upon it: they perceive that they are the Simurgh and that the Simurgh is each one of them and all of them. In the Simurgh are the thirty birds and in each bird is the Simurgh.
The poem was written around 1200 by the Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar.
About thirty works by Attar survive, but his masterpiece is the mantiq at-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds).
In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simurgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represents a human fault which prevents human kind from attaining enlightenment.
“He who would know the secret of both worlds will find that the secret of them both is Love.”
The hoopoe tells the birds that they have to cross seven valleys in order to reach the abode of Simurgh. These valleys are as follows:
- 1. Valley of the Quest, where the Wayfarer begins by casting aside all dogma, belief, and unbelief.
- 2. Valley of Love, where reason is abandoned for the sake of love.
- 3. Valley of Knowledge, where worldly knowledge becomes utterly useless.
- 4. Valley of Detachment, where all desires and attachments to the world are given up. Here, what is assumed to be “reality” vanishes.
- 5. Valley of Unity, where the Wayfarer realizes that everything is connected and that the Beloved is beyond everything, including harmony, multiplicity, and eternity.
- 6. Valley of Wonderment, where, entranced by the beauty of the Beloved, the Wayfarer becomes perplexed and, steeped in awe, finds that he or she has never known or understood anything.
- 7. Valley of Poverty and Annihilation, where the self disappears into the universe and the Wayfarer becomes timeless, existing in both the past and the future.
“When the birds hear the description of these valleys, they bow their heads in distress; some even die of fright right then and there. But despite their trepidations, they begin the great journey. On the way, many perish of thirst, heat or illness, while others fall prey to wild beasts, panic, and violence. Finally, only thirty birds make it to the abode of Simurgh. In the end, the birds learn that they themselves are the Simorgh; the name “Simorgh” in Persian means thirty (si) birds (morgh). They eventually come to understand that the majesty of that Beloved is like the sun that can be seen reflected in a mirror. Yet, whoever looks into that mirror will also behold his or her own image.”
- If Simurgh unveils its face to you, you will find
- that all the birds, be they thirty or forty or more,
- are but the shadows cast by that unveiling.
- What shadow is ever separated from its maker?
- Do you see?
- The shadow and its maker are one and the same,
- so get over surfaces and delve into mysteries.
Now, this book was recommended to me by Adam, a friend of mine over 35 years ago, and had it in my hands many times at the bookstore, and read just snippets of it, I am fastidious, and particularly with books, and want the best translation, and the best format, and was not satisfied with the stuff available at the time, so, then just took it out of the library and read it.
I just bought it a few days ago, compromising as usual, I may buy another one, by a different translator.
It was one night while soaring in the Chinese sky,I heard people talk of a great bird that flew by,
Called Simurgh, the greatest bird alive,
Who dwells on Mount Qaf, where he is said to thrive,
Upon a giant mountain unlike any other seen, covered with trees.
Beyond Samarkand, across seven valleys and seven seas.
Jorge Luis Borges admired Attar’s Simorgh tremendously, comparing it to Dante’s Eagle in Canto XVIII of the Paradiso—another composite bird, made up of just kings flying around Jupiter in aquiline formation. Borges preferred the Simurgh as the more cohesive, integrated figure; however, in Attar’s poem, the Simorgh’s integration is also the birds’ disintegration:
Their life came from that close, insistent sun And in its vivid rays they shone as one.
There in the Simorgh’s radiant face they saw
Themselves, the Simorgh of the world – with awe
They gazed, and dared at last to comprehend
They were the Simorgh and the journey’s end.
They see the Simorgh – at themselves they stare,
And see a second Simorgh standing there;
They look at both and see the two are one,
That this is that, that this, the goal is won. Then, as they listened to the Simorgh’s words,
A trembling dissolution filled the birds–
The substance of their being was undone,
And they were lost like shade before the sun;
Neither the pilgrims nor their guide remained.
The Simorgh ceased to speak, and silence reigned.
There is admirable economy in the birds’ quest, Borges noted—“the searchers are what they seek.” Yet also in this climax is the sense of consumption, mortality, illusion.
If you haven’t read it, do it by all means.
“The ocean can be yours; why should you stop Beguiled by dreams of evanescent dew?
The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in beams.”
What It’s Self?
According to an online dictionary:
A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.
“Our alienation from our true selves”
Ego, I, oneself, persona, person, identity, character, personality, psyche, soul, spirit,mind, (inner) being
“Listen to your inner self”
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. This reference is necessarily subjective, thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. The sense of having a self – or self-hood – should, however, not be confused with subjectivity itself.
There is a directness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its “self”
A curious state of affairs, who, or what it’s this subjective Self?
Who is this mind who talks within ourselves, and we call the “I”?
A subjective me, separated from my physical person, who can only be witnessed, and listened by myself, and no one else?
There are psychiatric conditions where such ‘sameness’ is broken include depersonalization, which sometimes occur in schizophrenia: the self appears different to the subject.
Schizophrenics they may hear ‘voices’ within themselves diffrent from their self.
Who we are, as a different , but particular individual, it’s not our subjective Self, but a given condition of existence.
Our name, sex, parents, city, and country we are born, or live, religion, economy, school, friends, occupation, work, profession, wife, husband, relatives, friends, factors that marked our physical identity given by genetics, and ancestors, geography, and what not.
None of them the it’s real Self, but circumstantial conditions given at birth, and the subsequent life story we live by such limiting configurations, all simply circumstantial, or happenstance of one kind, or another one, supposedly planed, or not, since we didn’t choose the initial conditions of existence, and the consequence of the many struggles we go through as individuals to establish the identity of our own choosing, sometimes contrary as to what others perceive as a given.
Although subjective experience is central to self-hood, the privacy of this experience is only one of many problems in the philosophical and scientific study of consciousness.
Well, at an early age, I was six, or seven years of age, when I heard an older friend talking about a philosophy class, he had and the teacher expounded on Buddhism about the Three marks of existence. In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa) of all existence and beings, what we namely call impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anattā).
And the five Skandhas (Sanskrit) or khandhas (Pāḷi) means “heaps, aggregates, The five aggregates or heaps are: form (or matter or body) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana).
The skandhas aggregates, as a concept, in contradistinction to the idea of a unified “being or individual”, and complements the Anatta doctrine of Buddhism, which asserts that all things and beings are without self. The ornate and “five aggregates” doctrines are part of the liberating knowledge in Buddhism, wherein one realizes that the “being” is merely made up of a temporary grouping of five aggregates, inferences due to our five senses, who produce the illusion of a Self, each of which are “not I, and not myself”, and each of the skandhas is empty, without substance.
Now, of course all this explained in more simple terms by my friend, and very likely his teacher, as well, since my friend was nine, or ten years of age at the time, like pain, suffering, and death being a given of existence, and our attachment to existence.
Via Positiva Vs Via Negativa
Of course to those easily confused by the many Ways that exist I may refer you to a post I wrote on May 2012 titled: Via Positiva Via Negativa, and remind you form it’s emptiness, and emptiness it’s form, the difference it’s in the eye of the beholder.
The third century Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna taught, “Emptiness wrongly grasped is like picking up a poisonous snake by the wrong end.” In other words, we will be bitten!
Emptiness is not complete nothingness; it doesn’t mean that nothing exists at all. This would be a nihilistic view contrary to common sense. What it does mean is that things do not exist the way our grasping self supposes they do.
In order of brevity, and not to make this post a treaty that would take many books, I will expose the simple, but profound words of the Ramana Maharshi, who was a Hindu sage and Jivanmukta. He was born as Venkataraman Iyer, but is most commonly known by the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. His message was simple, easily to understand, but with great wisdom. Though Ramana’s answers explain and incorporate elements from Advaita Vedanta, his spiritual life is strongly associated with Shaivism.
Although many claim to be influenced by him, Ramana Maharshi did not publicize himself as a guru, never claimed to have disciples, and never appointed any successors.While a few who came to see him are said to have become enlightened through association, he did not publicly acknowledge any living person as liberated other than his mother at death. Ramana never promoted any lineage.
I do not hold any particular Spiritual Path, to be better, than another one, neither claim to be this, or that, I am of the thought we all Men or Women come in all different guises, and likes, and dislikes, a Spiritual Path it’s unique to the individual, and it’s my firm belief that the problem, it’s not that there’s too many Religions, but too few, each person should be a Temple of the Light into his/her own heart, and have each their own, and unique Way, and should recognizes Universally Self, in every being. That by the way, according to Ramana Maharshi It’s the test, that confirm a person it’s an enlightened Being.
“Inquiring within Who is the seer? I saw the seer disappear leaving That alone which stands forever. No thought arose to say I saw. How then could the thought arise to say I did not see.” R.M.
“I cannot show you God or enable you to see God because God is not an object that can be seen. God is the subject. He is the seer. Don’t concern yourself with objects that can be seen. Find out who the seer is” R.M.
“When the identification with the body stops, any notions about death and rebirth become inapplicable, since there is no birth or death within Self.” R.M.
Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.
“O learned one if the mind going inside come backs again outside, it’s only called practice; knowledge it’s a very unfailling experience.” R.M.
“Realization it’s nothing to be gained anew. You are the Self. You are already and eternally That.” R.M.
There is never a moment when the Self is not; it is ever present, here and now. If Realization were something to be gained hereafter, there would be an equal chance of its being lost; this cannot be Liberation, which is eternal.” R.M.
“Investigate the nature of the mind and it will disappear. When you inquire to see what it is, you find there is no such a thing as mind. When the mind has vanished, you realize eternal Peace.” R.M.
“We need not acquire anything new, only give up false ideas and useless accretions. Instead of doing this, we try to grasp something strange and mysterious because we believe happiness lies elsewhere. This is the mistake.” R.M.
“Birds , and all caged pets are waiting for an opportunity to fly, or run out of their cages. Ramana remarks:
All want to rush out. There is no limit to going out. When happiness lies within and not without.”
You can’t cross the sea merely
by standing and staring at the water.
Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.
Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.
As to the frequent, and too much used question of;
Why do I Blog?
My response could be the obvious, like why do you eat, or even why do you have blue eyes, or why do you like a certain type of food, or why do you have a mole on your cheek?
And many such answers of the sort, of why you are, who you are, and what’s the stuff that motivate you to have the daring of typing some words, and put them out there for everyone to read.
Motivations can be many, as diverse as us human beings we are, despite of it, we all have our own special reasons why do we write.
I believe I do, because I love reading even at the tender age of five as I just learnt, at school, my father, who was an avid reader gave me my first book to read, nothing too complex, a small book 110 pages long or so, an adventure genre book, by the Italian writer Emilio Salgari, about Sandokan a pirate in Malasya, a very improbable story, but designed to appeal to a young person’s imagination.
Emilio Salgari (Italian pronunciation: [eˈmiːljo salˈɡaːri], but often erroneously pronounced [ˈsalɡari]; 21 August 1862 – 25 April 1911) was an Italian writer of action adventure swashbucklers and a pioneer of science fiction.
In Italy, his extensive body of work was more widely read than that of Dante. Today he is still among the 40 most translated Italian authors. Many of his most popular novels have been adapted as comics, animated series and feature films. He is considered the father of Italian adventure fiction and Italian pop culture, and the “grandfather” of the Spaghetti Western.
Salgari wrote more than 200 adventure stories and novels, setting his tales in exotic locations, with heroes from a wide variety of cultures. He gained inspiration from reading foreign literature and newspapers, travel magazines and encyclopedias, which he used to portray his heroes’ worlds. He wrote four major series: The Pirates of Malaysia; The Black Corsair Saga; The Pirates of Bermuda; and a collection of adventures set in the Old West. Salgari’s heroes were mostly pirates, outlaws and barbarians, fighting against greed, abuse of power, and corruption.
Salgari opposed colonization in his fiction. His most legendary heroes Sandokan, The Tiger of Malaysia, a Bornean prince turned pirate, and his loyal lieutenant Yanez of Gomera, led their men in attacks against the Dutch and British fleets. They declared war on James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, and tried to force him from his throne. The Black Corsair and Captain Morgan battled against injustice in the Caribbean, while Salgari’s pirates of Bermuda fought for American independence.
His tales had been so popular that soon his publisher hired other writers to develop adventure stories under his name. They added 50 novels to his “canon”. Salgari’s style was imitated by many, but no other Italian adventure writer managed to duplicate his popular success.
After reading the book completely non stop since midmorning until late afternoon, I returned the book to father, my father thought I had not read the book, so he said to me:
You didn´t like it?
To which I responded:
On the contrary, I love it, and therefore I want the continuation, the book that you gave me has a continuation and I want it immediately!
And so my long years of reading books commenced.
WRITING AS AN EXTESION OF READING
Well, there you have it, in a nutshell, I write because after so much reading figured up it was time for me to put my owns thoughts in writing.
After so much taking in, naturally it was time to give back, as a process of Osmosis.
The process of osmosis over a semi-permeable membrane. The blue dots represent particles driving the osmotic gradient.
Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a selectively permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides. It may also be used to describe a physical process in which any solvent moves across a selectively permeable membrane (permeable to the solvent, but not the solute) separating two solutions of different concentrations. Osmosis can be made to do work. Osmotic pressure is defined as the external pressure required to be applied so that there is no net movement of solvent across the membrane. Osmotic pressure is a colligative property, meaning that the osmotic pressure depends on the molar concentration of the solute but not on its identity.
Simply put Osmosis, it’s soaking a rag until it cannot absorb any more liquid, and the process of absorption, it’s reversed and therefore, as when you clean with a rag something you spill on your counter the rag start to release the liquid instead of absorbing it, and you need to bring a new rag, or squeeze dry the one you have, before trying to clean up more the mess left, on the counter.
So it’s my time to give, rather than taking knowledge, not that I stop reading, but naturally feel like sharing what I have absorbed through my reading, and life experience, and that’s why I am here telling you about it.
That, and trying to add the skill of writing, as a complement to my reading, and sharing it with you, are the prime motivations behind my writing, not getting any money from my writing, or even further from my mind, getting to be famous through it, and so far yet, not even writing a book, has come to my mind…
What inspire me to write a particular post, can be as variable, as the weather, one day to another one, as for example, as I sat on my desk and turned the computer on, I didn’t knew what my next post would be all about it, then I read a message, someone wrote me, and bingo!
A friend of mine like to travel constantly, and once I retired figure that I would do the same, but then that was some time ago, before I knew myself better, the fact I am an INFJ, and just cannot be running around here, and there without having my battery easily exhausted, just a trip of four days some days ago made me crash, when I got home, sleep for twelve hours nonstop, when usually do not sleep more than six, a day!
Commenting on that, to another friend I said:
Our friend like to travel through the Oceans frequently, myself I prefer to travel through, as well, but rather the Oceans of Knowledge, within myself, with the help of some books of course, my kind of cup of tea.
THE END OF THE KALI YUGA, IN 2025. AND THE BEGINING OF SATYA YUGA, A GOLDEN AGE, ANOTHER MILLENIAL MYTH?
There were no poor and no rich; there was no need to labor, because all that men required was obtained by the power of will; the chief virtue was the abandonment of all worldly desires. The Krita Yuga (Satya Yuga) was without disease; there was no lessening with the years; there was no hatred or vanity, or evil thought; no sorrow, no fear. All mankind could attain to supreme blessedness.
According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE. This is also considered the date on which Lord Krishna left the earth to return to Vaikuntha. This information is placed at the temple of Bhalka, the place of this incident
Information Kiosk at Bhalka, the place from where Lord Krishna returned to his heavenly abode
According to the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta the Kali Yuga started in 3102 BCE. He finished his book “Aryabhattiya” in 499 CE, in which he gives the exact year of the beginning of Kali Yuga. He writes that he wrote the book in the “year 3600 of the Kali Age” at the age of 23. As it was the 3600th year of the Kali Age when he was 23 years old, and given that Aryabhatta was born in 476 CE, the beginning of the Kali Yuga would come to (3600 – (476 + 23) + 1 (As only one year elapses between 1 BCE and 1 CE) = ) 3102 BCE
According to KD Abhyankar, the starting point of Kaliyuga is an extremely rare planetary alignment, which is depicted in the Mohenjo-Daro seals.[ Going by this alignment the year 3102 BCE is slightly off. The actual date for this alignment is February 7 of 3104 BCE. There is also sufficient proof to believe that Vrdhha Garga knew of precession at least by 500 BCE. Garga had calculated the rate of precession to within 30% of what the modern scholars estimate.
Most interpreters of Vedic scriptures, as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami and his recent disciple Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga and lasts 432,000 years. Other authors, such as Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda, believe that it is now an ascending Dvapara Yuga, indicating levels of cycles within each major Yuga period as each being a development, the smaller cycles within cycles eventually leading to full development of the qualities of the ages. The Kali Yuga is thought by some authors to last 6480 years although other duration have been proposed.
Attributes of Kali Yuga
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.
The Kali Yuga According to Hindu Scriptures
“It is the lowest instincts that stimulate the men of the Kali Yuga, they prefer false ideas, they do not hesitate to persecute the sages, desire torments them, neglect, illness, hunger, the fear spread. Severe droughts The different regions of the countries will oppose each other The sacred books will no longer be respected Men will not have morals, and will be irritable and sectarian False doctrines and misleading writings spread in the age of Kali People are afraid because they neglect the rules taught by the wise and do not perform the rites correctly anymore Many will perish The number of princes and farmers will gradually diminish The lower classes want to attribute real power and share knowledge, food and the beds of the old princes, most of the new leaders are of slave origin, they will persecute the priests and those who have wisdom. to fetuses and heroes. The slaves want to play the role of intellectuals, the intellectuals that of slaves. Thieves become kings and kings become thieves. Rare are virtuous women. Promiscuity extends. The stability and balance of castes and the ages of life disappear everywhere. The earth produces almost nothing in some places and produces a lot in others. The powerful take over public goods and stop protecting the people. Wise persons of low birth are honored as if they were Brahmans and deliver to people who are not worthy of it the dangerous secrets of the sciences. Teachers are debased by selling their knowledge. Many take refuge in a wandering life. At the end of the Yuga, the number of women increases and the number of men decreases. During the Age of Kali, the Great God, Shiva, the dark blue and red peacemaker, will be revealed to all under a disguise to restore justice. Those who go to him will be saved. At the end of the Yuga, the animals become violent, the number of cows decreases. Good men withdraw from public life. Market cooked foods are sold in the market square. Also the sacraments and religion are sold. The rain is erratic. The merchants dishonest.
People who beg or seek employment are becoming more numerous. Nobody stops using rude language, nobody keeps their word, everyone is envious. People without morals preach virtue to others. Censorship reigns. Criminal associations are formed in cities and towns. The water and the fruits will be lacking. Men will lose the sense of values. They will have belly aches and will have their hair in disarray. At the end of the Yuga, people will be born whose life expectancy will not reach sixteen. People will envy the clothes of others. The thieves will rob the thieves. Many will become lethargic and inactive, contagious diseases, rats and snakes will torment men. Men suffering from hunger and fear will find themselves on the banks of the Bengal River. Nobody will live longer than the normal duration of life, which is one hundred years. The rites will perish in the hands of men without virtues. People who practice errant rites will spread everywhere. Unskilled people will study the sacred texts and will be self-proclaimed expert. Men will kill each other and also kill children, women and cows. The wise will be condemned to death. However, some will reach perfection in a very short time. Excellent Brahmans will continue practicing the rites. “
Linga Purâna, II. Chapters. 39, 40.
End of Kali yuga Controversy
In all honesty there is wide controversy, between Astrologers, about the time the Kali Yuga will end, and even some Astronomers have jump into the fray!
Some say it already started in on 26th July 2014 at 3:11:00 p.m., others not until 2,025, and many others into different dates, as far as thousands of years into the future!
And frankly it will take too many pages to explain, and it will not be of interest to those who do not have a background in Astrology, or Astronomy, if you are interested on those details you can find your way through those arguments by navigating to such websites.
Some propose the date of 2025, and the object of my post, it’s to call attention to this not new, but coming our way Millenarianism phenomena, as we speak, too many argue we are in the Aquarius age, some deny it, or that if the Maya end cycle on 2012 year, had, or has any meaning?
We will not go into that, my objective is to relate to you what the ones who agree on 2025, have to say:
‘The timeline also indicates that the ascending Kali Yuga, which is the current epoch in which we are living, will end in 2025 CE. The full manifestation of the next Yuga – the ascending Dwapara – will take place in 2325 CE, after a transitional period of 300 years. The ascending Dwapara Yuga will then be followed by two more Yugas: the ascending Treta Yuga and the ascending Satya Yuga, which will complete the 12,000 year ascending cycle.’
The Mahabharata has also prophesied the same thing but with further elaborations on how conditions will be when Satya-Yuga or Krita-yuga begins again: “O descendant of Bharata, when at the appearance of the Krita Yuga, sin will thus be completely destroyed and virtue will flourish, men will again be engaged in religious rites. Well-planted gardens, sacrificial grounds, large tanks, Vedic schools and colleges, ponds and temples, will (all) reappear everywhere; various sacrifices will also begin to be performed at the appearance of the Krita age. Brahmans will be honest and good. Being devoted to asceticism, they will be Rishis (and wise sages). The hermitages occupied by the wicked wretches will once more be the homes of men devoted to Truth. Men in general will begin to honor and practice Truth. All seeds sown on earth will grow. O king of kings, every kind of crop will grow in every season. Men will devotedly practice charity, vows, and religious rites. The Brahmans, devoted to meditation and sacrifices (Vedic rituals), will be of virtuous soul and cheerful disposition. The kings will virtuously govern the earth. In the Satya yuga (Krita Yuga), the Vaishyas will devote themselves to trade, the Brahmans will be devoted to their six duties and the Kshatriyas will be devoted to the display of prowess (for the protection of the citizens). The Shudras will be devoted to the service of the other three orders. Such will be the Dharma in Satya yuga (Krita yuga), Treta yuga, and Dvapara Yugas.
Controversy about cycles are based on hypothetical theories, based on Sacred scriptures interpretations, so therefore, also subjective, to multiple interpretations, however also believe what some sages said regarding in what age we live.
‘Kali Yuga is for hypocrites and fools. They always live in it. The wise and the truthful always live in Satya Yuga.’
‘Try to lead a truthful life. Time cannot change us unless we try to change ourselves. Avoid foolish speculations and imaginations. Develop right discrimination and be wise. Then you always live in Satya Yuga.’
THE COMPLEXITY OF HISTORY, KNOWLEDGE & POWER, A SELECTIVE MEMORY TO REMEMBER HISTORY, THE WAY HOLLYWOOD MAKES MYTHS, A FEW EXAMPLES.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
“Knowledge is Power.”
However political power often ignores expertise that contradicts it’s self portrayal and goals.
Knowledge does not automatically leads to power, and power not necessarily command, attracts, or produce knowledge.
And many prominent scholars have little power of their own, if not helped by powerful Institutions, or organizations.
I meant to add some quotes about History, but desisted, not for a lack of quotes about History, regardless of it, few I would choose, since they tend to be heroic, rather than truthful, the History of Mankind, had being a messy affair of wars, lies, deception, fraud, robbery, pillage, and substitution of truth, for epic lore, to aggrandize and make us believe our ancestors were great, and no scoundrels, who behaved not as honorable men do, but as common criminals.
And then they wrote their deeds as History, not what really happened, but what they wanted for us to believe was true.
Different people wrote diverse stories, then we pick sides, and argue who is right.
History a Complex Matter
You will think History to be a simple straightforward affair, just get the data, arrange it in a chronological order, and just start writing it.
If things will be so easy as that!
At first glance, writing about history can seem like an overwhelming task. History’s subject matter is immense, encompassing all of human affairs in the recorded past — up until the moment, that is, that you started reading this guide. Because no one person can possibly consult all of these records, no work of history can ever pretend to be comprehensive or universal. At the same time, history’s subject matter is partially irretrievable. Barring the invention of time travel, no scholar can experience the past firsthand or recreate its conditions in a laboratory setting. Historians must rely on the fragmentary records that survive from the time period under study, which necessarily reveal just part of the story. For these reasons, the guiding principles behind all historical writing must be selection and interpretation: the thoughtful selection of topics and questions that seem most interesting, and the responsible interpretation of sources in order to construct meaningful arguments. Subjective decisions about what to include, what to exclude, and how to understand it make history writing manageable in the first place. No less importantly, they also make it controversial, because scholars are bound to disagree with the judgments of other scholars. You can think of history writing, then, as an ongoing argument or debate over this unavoidable process of selection and interpretation. Your first challenge as a writer is to find a way to enter this conversation.
And that it’s just a starter, we could rise a hundred more issues!
“Getting history teachers to agree on pretty much anything, is quite difficult. If you ever want to see some ding-dongs between teaching staff, just sit in on a History Department meeting and watch the sparks fly.
I cannot imagine my colleagues from the Maths department slogging it out over Pythagoras’ Theorem or chemists disputing the periodic table. But, historians; yes, historians are hard work. Even when we agree on the evidence, we rarely agree on the evaluation or analysis of it.
Depending on the history teacher you had in front of you, Dunkirk was either a triumph or a humiliation. The British Empire was jolly good or rather awful. King John was a nice chap or a nasty piece of work. And, the First World War was either a total disaster in which millions of decent people were led to their slaughter by an “out of touch elite” or a just war that put an end to the imperialist ambitions of an autocrat and an attempt to stand up for the self-determination of the people of Europe.”
After reading History for years, which by the way it’s mainly the story of conflicts, invasions, wars, and the like, well, I am jaded, and disappointed by so much incomprehension, and taking sides from so many people around the World holding grudges, about what happened hundreds of years ago to their people, or Nations, and carrying hatred for perceived affronts towards people of other nations, who have changed through centuries, and may have little in common with their supposed ancestors.
And of course,
There it is Hollywood!
People still read, but seriously, very little, most mainly learn their History watching movies!
I guess this it’s not news to any of you, who seriously study History, to listen to someone who doesn’t, but commenting about this, or that movie, and how they learnt about a specific place, and moment of history, by watching a Hollywood, or British epic, or wherever the movie was made.
Now, maybe unknown to you, making a movie it’s a total professional business, were even the slightest of details are not left to chance, like using the wrong period lighter, to light a cigarette, or the attire doesn’t match the exact period it means to portray, in other words nothing it’s left to chance, not even the way extras walk in the set, and where they are looking at, in making a movie, many experts on their fields are involved, I used to work in a place where the prop departments of movie studios will come looking for specific items they required to make a movie, stuff that you wouldn’t even notice, in the brief second they would appear in the movie.
However I have to say most film makers, care too much about giving us the ambiance of the period in question, but very little of telling us real History!
They just go along with the script, provided and approved, by whoever created the movie, and it’s responsible for the financial success of the project, that not necessarily reflect the views of the book author, if the movie it’s based in one.
Historians argue about facts, accuracy, reliability, and many other issues, movie directors creates a fantasy to sell, with little regard of Historical accuracy in the tale they make, period.
Recently a fellow blogger complained about how everybody judge Admiral Nelson as a great Historical figure, no doubt, he was, that even a movie of his Lady mistress Lady Hamilton was made, but I dare you to tell me who Blas de Lezo y Olabarrieta was?
Well for that you will have to read History.
“If Blas de Lezo were American, or English, his story would have been told hundreds of times in novels, movies and all kinds of media and formats. It would be a David Crockett or a Nelson. But he was a Spaniard or, rather, half Spanish, because he left so many pieces of his body in battle that he was called ‘Half man’. However, he was a complete hero, without cracks or shrinkage.”
Myths of the Old West
We know about William Henry McCarthy known better as Billy the kid, he was an American cowboy originally born in Manhattan, of all places, who ended up creating a legend by becoming an outlaw after shooting eight people and being shot himself at 21 years of age, or Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, a US Marshall assistant, of the famous OK Corral gunfight, little known about him was that he was a professional gambler, a brothel keeper, and bar owner, as well as a pimp, and himself on many occasions, not so clearly on the side of law, Wyatt Earp and few other derelicts, seedy, and criminal characters, were able to make a career as outlaws, moving constantly into marginal towns, in the territories, not yet States, away from populated places, where that type of behavior would not be tolerated, and the reason they moved constantly, in search of new prey, and impunity. The safest way was by being officers of the law, when they could take that kind of job, easier on those days, at those places, or just running away when it was necessary!
Cowboys exalted in countless movies, as the spirit of American pioneers, and the legend of the indomitable old West, and the cowboy, a period that lasted no more than 25 years, before the railroad in 1869 took over, and the great cattle drives through the prairies where over, and law, order, and property rights were enforced, from coast to coast, except for isolated, and inhospitable places like Tombstone Arizona, a miner boom town, whose only existence today, it’s to perpetuate the OK Corral gunfight of yore, it was a 30-second shootout between lawmen and members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, and many claim it wasn’t at all as portrayed in countless movies, some accuse the Earp clan as low class criminals, and the Earp-Clanton differences as the falling-out of partners in crime, and the whole affair at the OK Corral as an ambush of the Earp, against the Clanton gang.
In all honesty, there’s tons of controversy about Wyatt Earp, to put all things clear, however I will go with Western historian and author John Boessenecker who in my opinion goes lightly, and benevolent, on the side of being cautious, and fair, when so much dirt has been wrote about Earp, as when he describes Earp as an “enigmatic figure … He always lived on the outer fringe of respectable society, and his closest companions were gamblers and sporting men … Wyatt never set down roots in any one place; when the money stopped coming in or his problems became too great, he would pull up stakes and move on to the next boom town … For his entire life was a gamble, an effort to make money without working hard for it, to succeed quickly without ever settling in for the long haul.”
He omitted as companions, outlaws, prostitutes, pimps, conman, drunks, and rustlers.
Well, the period in question didn’t last long, the expansion of people Westward, the railroad, and with it law and order, put an end to the Wild West epic period for good, Wyatt Earp himself ending as a Real State salesman in San Diego County, in Southern California, and dying in Los Angeles in 1929, promoting his image to Hollywood.
On The other Hand
Of course, we know almost nothing of the previous 350 years, when the Spanish brought without fanfare, or movies, to depict us, the culture of cattle ranching, and expert horsemanship, that the cowboys learned from the humble vaqueros, mostly half bloods of Indian, and Spaniard, the original cowboys, and extending all through Northern Mexico, and the South West before America took it over in 1848, in the Mexican war, not to talk about the original Indian people, who lived all through America before the arrival of the white settlers, who almost exterminated them, or confined them to reservations, talk about Genocide, and selective memory to do History!
And a force to reckon, were the Mestizo vaqueros, who in California defeated the US Army three times. First lead by Gen José María Flores Californios, (at the time Mexican citizens) retake Los Angeles, Second, defeat and capture of 24 Americans, led by Benjamin D. Wilson, who were hiding in an adobe house in Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, near present-day Chino, California, and the Battle or Rancho Dominguez, Californios, led by José Antonio Carrillo, defeat 203 US Marines led by U.S. Navy Captain William Mervine. Mainly through expert horsemanship, and using long lances, one old brass canon, and a few old muskets.
History is Selective
Well, just recalling a few incidents of History it’s clear that if you want to learn the truth, you cannot be selective, but unfortunately most of History it’s biased, and full of gaps, in actuality it’s more like focusing your attention on a specific place of time, and from a particular point of view, to tell whatever you may find useful to elucidate your main argument, leaving aside what in your judgment may not care to expose.
And I do not care what you may choose to fix your attention, unfortunately most of us, individual humans, we belong to a race, country, are politically inclined, and posses particularly given attributes who define you, possessing a Weltanschauung, a particular Worldview, before we can’t even go into any claim of neutrality to elucidate any argument.
History is Written by the Victors
One of the most unfortunate and widely-accepted ideas about historical thinking is that “history is written by the victors.” This talking point asserts that the truth of the past is not shaped by reasoned interpretive historical scholarship or a factual understanding of the past, but by the might of political and cultural leaders on the “winning” side of history; the “winners” have the power to shape historical narratives through school textbooks, public iconography, movies, and a range of other mediums. To be sure, these mediums are powerful venues for establishing political ideologies and shaping personal assumptions about the way the world works. And it’s definitely true that governmental or “official” entities can and do exploit this power to achieve their own ends. Well to be fair it’s not always the case, there’s exceptions, and of course what we name Revisionist versions, but I would just say that History it’s not a straightforward affair by any means, and even digging deeper, we may never learn the whole truth of it.
Tear down pyramids, wipe out cities!
How dare you and the rest of your
barbarians set fire to my library?
Play conqueror all you want,
Rape, murder, pillage thousands,
millions of human beings.
But neither you nor
any other barbarian…
…has the right to destroy
one human thought!
When young at school in early age I learnt about the Alexandria library, something that as a young reader excited my imagination , and saw the burning of the library of Alexandria as such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient. It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.
The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.
Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge. There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge:e.g., Herodotus, Plato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).
The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria
Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens. Alexandria was considered the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.
The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.
Arguably, this library is most famous for having been burned down resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge. Sources differ on who was responsible for its destruction and when it occurred. The library may in truth have suffered several fires over many years. In addition to fires, at least one earthquake damaged the city and the library during this time. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC and an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD.
Well, as a child I cried the loss of the library, as much as Shakespeare did, and I am sure, as much, as every other bibliophile in history, since so many years ago.
The New Library
The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood. The notion of recreating the ancient library was adopted by other individuals and agencies. One leading supporter of the project was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; UNESCO was also quick to embrace the concept of endowing the Mediterranean region with a center of cultural and scientific excellence. An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. The first pledges were made for funding the project at a conference held in 1990 in Aswan: USD $65 million, mostly from the Arab states. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world, surpassing those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, in addition to being the main French library in Africa.
Building and library features
The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library’s architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-paneled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.
The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
Ironically in the course of my life, since the days I felt sadness as many before me, for such loss, now day things have changed to the point, where libraries are not even fashionable, and some may question their value, as a public service, since we live in the digital age, with computers, and the Internet, libraries are mainly museums to the past, despite being one, of the now rapidly diminishing amount of people, who prefer to hold a paper book in my hands, rather than a tablet, or read it on my computer screen.
Which take me to another issue, the many times, I have to remind people who carry the library of my childhood dreams, at the tip of their fingertips, and still ask me all sort of questions, and I remind them often with these words:
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
You got no idea, the many puzzlement faces I got to see, until, suddenly they catch my meaning, and reach for their phone!
Like Magic, doesn’t it?
The magic Wonder, of wonders, who, could have told me then?
The wondrous Magic mirror, of the evil Queen, Merlin’s amazing crystal, gazing ball, right there, at the fingertips, of every Tom, Dick and Harry, all these, numberless, absent minded people, who use it for trivial things, like chatting, texting, exchanging jokes, and some no better, than the evil Queen, as a mere vanity tool, instead of a new depository of wisdom like the ancient Alexandria library of yore.
To each his own…I guess.
AMERICA THE LAND OF WEIRD POLITICS, EXCEPTIONALISM, AND OF COURSE, THE REST OF US, AND THOSE WHO WHO SUFFER IT
Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure.
American exceptionalism? Exceptional at what? Waging wars against innocent people for fake reasons? Exceptional at what? Being addicted to pharmaceutical drugs that have people’s minds wasted? Exceptional at what? Eating more junk food and becoming the most obese nation on Earth?
American exceptionalism is the recurring character in the nation’s narrative.
It is not that I am not a fan of American exceptionalism. That is like saying I am not a fan of the moon being made out of green cheese-it does not exist. Powerful states have quite typically considered themselves to be exceptionally magnificent, and the United States is no exception to that. The basis for it is not very substantial to put it politely.
The conservative version of American exceptionalism has become a password of sorts for candidates who want to prove their credentials to a right-wing America.
[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.
The idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional.
There are also fundamental issues related to what the current leader, President [Barack] Obama, said. I am referring to his idea about American exceptionalism. I am skeptical about this idea.
Christian nation mythologists pump themselves up with narratives of American exceptionalism and Christian domination. But sooner or later even their most devoted followers should begin to see that also depicting it as vulnerable to non-existent threats undermines the myth itself.
I think where [Donald Trump] loses most hawkish republicans is when he talking about how much he likes [Vladimir] Putin. That should make any person who believe in the American exceptionalism, incredibly uncomfortable.
People get tired of talking about American exceptionalism, but I think this is an extraordinary thing about the United States, that we are a nation of immigrants, first of all, that is built upon a pluralistic society of native people that were here to begin with. The issue of diversity is really with us from the beginning.
Diana L. Eck
We have had a long held myth of American exceptionalism.
American patriotism is now jingoism. American Greatness is made fun of. The concept of “Make America Great Again” or American exceptionalism is lampooned. It is impugned. It is attacked. The effort to globalize our society and make us feel, as many of us as possible, that there’s nothing special about being an American, that we ought to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, and in that context America is a problem because we have too much, we’ve done too much, we owe too much, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
It’s a deft trick to turn American exceptionalism into an exceptional political tactic.
We are going to lead once again by being the best. We’re gonna lead economically. We’re gonna lead technologically. We’re gonna go back to the Moon, we’re gonna do whatever we’re gonna do. We are going to lead by engaging in American exceptionalism and this is going to inspire others to come along with us. We’re not shrinking away from anybody. We are reengaging. That’s what Trump is, and that’s what Democrats don’t see.
“Well, I learned a lot….I went down to (Latin America) to find out from them and (learn) their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.” President Ronald Reagan
America a great Nation
Now there’s no doubt in my mind, America it’s a great Nation, build on new ideas, new principles, like all men are equal, freedom, the constitution, our Founding Fathers, men of great vision, with a great past, and great accomplishments to be proud of.
However we can’t go on living from past glories, just the way we cannot live from the money we inherited from our grandfathers, when we spend it already.
Each generation has the moral duty to be great, we can’t go on living in what we were, but in who we are now, and what we got, already we have spent our capital, things have changed, and it’s time to begin again.
I got to confess before coming to America my experience in politics was one of abstention, and skepticism when it come to politicians, and knew nothing of American politics.
Well, that had changed a little bit, still need to learn a lot, but my skepticism about politicians and the value of their word, remain unchanged.
As an anecdote when looking for quotes about exceptionalism, not surprising Rush Limbaugh had many, a character with a lot of followers in America, but plagued by a lousy reputation for veracity, and accuracy, basically an ideologist of the far right.
“I Used To Think It Was Funny: Before the Right Wing Media Supplanted Moderate-Conservativism, Created an Ideological Monopoly, and Became a De-facto Propaganda Arm for the Extreme Right’s Agenda.”
When I first got here, I was baffled about the difference between Republicans, and Democrats, to me, they didn’t seem that different, today even less! And what I gather, it’s that the Democrats with the years, in the effort of pleasing the jingoistic masses, and Capital, had lost their old values and become closer to the right way of thinking, as opposed to their traditional left views of being there for the little guy, in a country where the word Left, no longer means what it used to be, but become a vilified word by the media, who of course paid by big money works tirelessly to make it so. And why not say it, Democrats leaders had abandoned those ideals, courting the almighty dollar, and become too fond of realpolitiks as defined by the dictionary:
‘A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.’
It is often simply referred to as pragmatism in politics, e.g. “pursuing pragmatic policies”. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.
On the other side
Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.
Here are some opinions of what’s going on in a forum:
‘They are becoming too intrusive and extreme like the far right did in Germany.
They are doing what Nazis did and taking control of peoples private rights (women’s reproductive rights). They are forcing their religious values by making laws based on them. They are intolerant of anyone that is NOT white. They spread lies and propaganda just like the Nazis. They are trying to destroy government and take over with privatization and a feudal system of economics. They pledge oaths to unelected politicians (Grover Norquist/a Muslim sympathizer, married to one). They are isolationist. They are taking dictator-type control over cities in states like MI and their rights to elect who they want. Election Rigging and they are very scary. They want to destroy education and want to rid the country of the elderly and poor and non-white people.’
‘Yes the Republican Party are acting more and more like fascists
They don’t listen to what anyone has to say. It is their way or the highway. They believe it is fine to disrespect the President and office of the Presidency. They feel that the old way is the glory way. They long to go back to a time where women were subservient and stayed home and had babies. They act as though they are the only game in town. They are bigoted, hypocrites that want you to do as they say not as they do. They would love to turn the world back to the 1950’s where the women wore pearls and only said perky things. And Father only knew best. They have done nothing positive for anyone but themselves since they have been in power. We can only hope they go the way of the dinosaur.’
‘The extreme right of the Republican are not conservatives, they are Fascists.
Fascism of any shade has certain common core characteristics:
2. Sexism and Misogyny
3. Strong mixture of state and religion
5. Protection of the cooperate class
6. Disregard of Human rights when deemed necessary
7. Fraudulent elections through use of powerful monied interests, gerrymandering, and voting suppression and intimidation.’
Comparisons are Hateful, but Necessary, the fact America it’s no longer Number one.
I kind of smile at the duplicity of our media, every so often, there’s an article on the newspapers where Norway it’s listed as: Norway ranked as the best place to live in the United Nation’s annual Human Development Report. It ranked the highest out of nearly 200 countries, forgetting to mention to the many readers, what was our actual rank, most people write comments indignant believing we are naturally the second behind Norway, by omission (not mentioning our rank) they lie of course, maintaining the illusion we are right behind when in fact in 2017 ranked in the eleventh place!
The Human poverty Index we are rated even lower; seventeen.
Quality of life Index: Sixteen
For many decades throughout the 20th century, the United States was recognized as having the highest standard of living in the world. Per capita income is high but also less evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of average material well being that do not place weight on equality aspects.
In other words, if based on an individual count, rather than on an average of the highest, with the lowest, we will rate even far lower, which means a lot of people actually live way far below of sixteen, sad but true, it’s a fact our cities had deteriorated, their infrastructure, as well as our jobs, and living standards, we still live pretty well if compared to so named third World countries, but we no longer can claim top honors.
The number of homeless people grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased. After many years of advocacy and numerous revisions, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987; this remains the only piece of federal legislation that allocates funding to the direct service of homeless people. Over the past decades, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Homelessness in the United States increased after the Great Recession.
I guess depends much where you live, to be a witness, and feel the effect of it, at least visually, and worst, if you are one of the ones suffering it, but in the big cities it’s just another fact of life.
Now, I am not talking out of my liberal heart, as some may think, just to criticize how bad the homeless problem is, I did ride three of the mos busiest bus lines, and the metro Red line in the city of Los Angeles, and I can tell you horror stories a mile long about the problems of sharing a ride with many of the homeless, that by the way, have free unrestricted access to the services, and rightly so, many times they use it as a home, or shelter, and some misbehave greatly, creating mayhem, and inconveniencing many other riders, few even dangerous, a daily reminder of what is wrong in America.
Some personal friends of mine, at work would patiently listen to my ‘Baba’s’ stories, as named by them, (like in India graciously name mendicants ) about my daily rides, and laugh about my adventures, it was fun for them to listen, but I assure you, most of the time, it wasn’t fun for me, or the many riders who just wanted a peaceful, and uneventful ride to work, or back home after a day of toll at work. The idea of writing a chapter on a book dedicated to the encounters, and many incidents I witness over those twenty two years, had crossed my mind, a close friend even got the idea of making a coffee table book with the pictures, and the many stories, with a title like: Meetings with Remarkable Babas!
And to the surprise of the many European tourist, and the many following conversations, I had with them about the disparity between the wealth of the surroundings, and the sad scenes witnessed by them on the rides, and in the streets, of some of our wealthiest communities, their expression usually was: ‘Such a shame.’
And I will not touch on this post mass shootings, and gun control issues, a great tragedy, but also a fact of life in America.
Yes, I agree, a real shame.
The late George Carlin
May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008
A good tune, and nice Rhymes, do not make a song True.
Most astrologers claim that Jesus commenced the Pisces age and most people believe the Age of Aquarius commenced in the 1960s and 70s. However how can both these facts be true if ages are at least 2150 years in length? Most projections of what we can expect in the Age of Aquarius is a paradisaical age free from all the problems that have encumbered the world in recent millennia. Are your Aquarian friends perfect? Do they stand out as superior to the other 12 signs of the zodiac? Why should the Age of Aquarius be more positive than any other age?
The Age of Aquarius has become an urban legend ever since the theatrical production of Hair proclaimed “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius ….” Most newspapers and comments on blogs clearly relate the dawning of the Age of Aquarius to the 1960’s and 70’s when Hair first appeared. Many people are so disappointed with the direction the world has taken since those inspiring times (for some) of the 60’s and 70’s to the point where the sentiment has become `where is the goddamned Age of Aquarius anyway?’ Some journalists even state that the Age of Aquarius was a 20 year phenomenon applying only the 1960s and 70s and has now died an ignoble death.
“The Age of Aquarius” or “Let the Sunshine In“
Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as “astrological gibberish”, noting that Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year (which doesn’t make sense either, since Mars’ orbital year is 687 days) and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. These lines are considered by many to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.
In truth there seems little to be positive in our future, All we got to do is to listen, or watch the news, to put us in a somber mood.
Good news stories don’t sell so this list is almost guaranteed to get next to no views. But, despite the deluge of bad news stories that hit us every day there is plenty to be positive about and we think it’s worth putting something out there that challenges the medias bad new bias.
The world is very different in this Aquarian age to date compared to the known historical events of any other age. No other age has seen the human population anywhere near current levels. In no other age could humans light up the world at night (with Aquarius electricity) so that it is observable from space. In no other age could some people fly, watch TV and have all the labor savings devices available in this modern Age of Aquarius. In no other age has any human walked on the Moon.
What is noticeable to date from the Aquarian age is that the benefits seem much greater compared to previous ages and the problems see much greater compared to earlier ages. This in itself satisfies the Aquarian archetype that it must be somehow fundamentally different to other ages.
The Age of Aquarius is not going to save the world. The Age of Aquarius it may rise your consciousness, it may not. The future of the world depends upon the sum of all the people in the world. It is what all the people in the world do that will make things happen. Judging by its track record to date, the problems and benefits in the Age of Aquarius will be much greater than previous. However, there is every reason to believe from the evidence provided by astrology that in this age of uncertainty, there is a much higher chance than normal that the world is heading for a mini-golden age associated with the Libra age-decan of the Age of Aquarius that will be firmly in place as the years, slowly but surely advance, hey I am old enough to remember the sixties!
In astrology, a decan is the subdivision of an astrological sign (zodiac sign). … Each sign is allocated a triplicity, consisting of three of the four classical elements air, water, earth or fire, and is therefore subdivided into three equal parts of 10 degrees each; these parts are referred to as decans or decanates.
And a man’s life it’s brief!
Uranus Ruler of Aquarius
Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. Possibly the earliest known observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128 BC might have recorded it as a star for his star catalogue that was later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.]The earliest definite sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769,including on four consecutive nights.
Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on 13 March 1781 from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), and initially reported it (on 26 April 1781) as a comet. Herschel “engaged in a series of observations on the parallax of the fixed stars”,using a telescope of his own design.
Herschel recorded in his journal: “In the quartile near ζ Tauri … either [a] Nebulous star or perhaps a comet.” On 17 March he noted: “I looked for the Comet or Nebulous Star and found that it is a Comet, for it has changed its place.” When he presented his discovery to the Royal Society, he continued to assert that he had found a comet, but also implicitly compared it to a planet.
Although Herschel continued to describe his new object as a comet, other astronomers had already begun to suspect otherwise. Finnish-Swedish astronomer Anders Johan Lexell, working in Russia, was the first to compute the orbit of the new object. Its nearly circular orbit led him to a conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode described Herschel’s discovery as “a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn”. Bode concluded that its near-circular orbit was more like a planet than a comet.
This planet (as well Neptune and Pluto) are associated with the unseen aspects of life. Uranus’ domain is akin to that of future-forward Aquarius, the star sign that rules scientific inventions, electricity, innovation and technology. These are all things that require us to stretch beyond our vision and lean in to belief. For example, we might not be able to prove the Uranian, but we feel a certainty about its existence. Even the Internet—which is Uranus’ domain—is a form of virtual reality, if you think about it.
In mythology, Uranus is known as Father Sky who bore children with Gaia, aka. Mother Earth. This is the planet that rules outer space and aeronautics and shows where we want to fly free—without restriction! (Gravity…what’s that?!) Given these liberated vibes, it’s no surprise that parenting did not come naturally to the Uranus of lore. Legend has it that Father Sky was cruel to his children, burying some in the earth and banishing others. Saturn, one of his sons, even castrated Uranus out of revenge, and Venus was born out of the sea, were Uranus testicles were tossed.
What it’s there to be positive?
Well, after unabated bad news, a bad economy, if you are not part of the infamous 1%, and I seriously doubt that, despite a total unenlightened political leadership, almost worldwide there it seems very few things you may feel worth to be happy to celebrate a New year.
But I said we will end in a positive note, and that I will do!
First we are still alive, second all the bad stuff hasn’t sip out my will to live and keep fighting, for whatever it’s just, and wise, regardless of the odds, and if you are reading this, right now you are probably in better shape I am, and I am willing yet to put a fight, hopefully, so do you!
There are people like us all over the world. You can find your ‘family’ online.
There is always a way. Always.
If you haven’t find it , keep looking!
We have been through a lot of hard times, and somehow we still standing, there’s no reason that if we keep the fight, things would go always the wrong way, finally our day of victory will come up, if you have not giving up, the fight it’s not over, period.
God loves you no matter what! With that knowledge, there is always hope!
There’s still Kindness, Joy, Grace, Love, and Mercy, go there find it, or give it out to someone, spread the good stuff.
My best wishes to you all, you deserve a great New Year!
“It is not conflict of opinions that has made history so violent but conflict of belief in opinions, that is to say conflict of convictions.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human.
When in my late teens, the books of Friedriech Nietzsche started to circulate with those students between us who undeservedly, thought ourselves, at such young age as ‘intellectuals.’
I smile now at our arrogance, and ignorance, at such young age, but vividly remember using the title of Nietzsche’s book, Human, All Too Human: A book for free spirits.’ Very often with condescending ironic tone, and a smile, when we heard, or witnessed, some stupidity, or act of ignorance, committed by whoever, or whatever event provoked us, empathizing the words; Human all too Human!
In accordance with the old Latin Proverb: Errare humanum est. ‘To err is human, but to persist in error (out of pride) is diabolical.’
Sadly, we never had to wait too long without having a chance to use it!
It’s common knowledge now day to see our World as chaotic, and a mess out of control, and we despair at the thought Mankind may not be around for too long if we persist to be ignorant of the problems we are constantly creating, and that have global repercussions, with few solutions in sight.
We even wonder what is at the root of these problems, and some of us we even choose far fetch reasons of our choosing, according to our own weakness, and proclivities, as our beliefs in opinions as Nietzsche’s quote above.
In the classic movie my dinner with Andre(1981) the following conversation took place:
”I think it’s quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished, and that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now. That from now on, there will simply be all these robots walking around – feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and that there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being with feelings and thoughts, and that history and memory are right now being erased and that soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet.”
– Andre, My Dinner With Andre
Our Many Maladies
There’s hundreds of people who have compiled lists with titles as: 50 reasons why Humans are too stupid to survive, or a 100 reasons, and have little faith Men will accomplish anything but annihilation not only of the Human race, but of the World we all live in , as well.
Reasons too long to list here, and redundant, all we got to do in the morning when we wake up is to turn on the news, and a good reason why for many years I now do not care to follow the news, but occasionally, and not very often, you could say I pick, and choose+ the events I care to watch.
Also occasionally I am baffled by some new idea of why we are all walking like lemmings to our doom, when talking to particular individuals with wacky ideas, or even bright, and intelligent but with far fetch reasons, they read here, or there, some even as bold to be the creators of such idea. No need to say more; if like me you are exposed to talk with all sort of people, I am sure you have heard it all, and as the days roll along, more keep coming!
What it’s rare, are those who have anything positive to say, and we may even look at them as people with good intentions, but too naive.
As to why we seem unable in almost every place, and age in time to learn from History lessons baffle many of us, and therefore the multiple explanations people come with.
Ockham’s razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae “law of parsimony“) is a problem-solving principle attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. His principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic guide in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.
In few words Occam’s razor, is not infallible, but it has become a very reliable tool to cut the B.S. out of Science. When investigating a theory, and the feasibility of it, as a fact, Occam’s razor it’s hard to beat.
A simpler explanation, most of the time comes to be the correct answer.
And the great thing about it, is that the solution to what it seems subjective, and complex issues of sometimes unfathomable nature, they posses a simple explanation.
For a brief time in History, it seems to be periods of greatness, and enlightened men who guide us through the stormy Oceans of life, just to fade into oblivion and we are faced with new, and never ending problems of many kinds., and most people wish new champions, or at least one, a giant between men, a Messiah may arise, and like a bridge over troubled waters may guide us to safety.
Abdicating in that way on our personal responsibility, at the state of affairs of the World, true, you can be a very nice guy, or gal, but you rather have someone else doing the job for you, of cleaning up the mess!
If we look for a culprit, we no longer need to look for specifics, we are in the state we are thanks to our collective ignorance.
Unfortunately Darwin’s theory of Evolution explain our biological evolution, but has little to do with our Human condition as social individuals, who require to be taught since the moment we are born to become decent, and useful citizens of the community, or place we live in.
We know now that about one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they’d never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it’s far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.
And so my argument is we need to learn our social skills, and to be virtuous, like almost everything else, since it’s not a given!
Learning it’s consilient, we build like a wall with bricks, through our life, since early childhood, to old age.
And the reason why Humanity never seem to progress historically speaking, since every individual regardless has to start from zero, and learning it’s a process that it ends with death, not with certain age, and I do need to tell you this, you all know it, some people it’s more ignorant than others, because what the individual has learned through his/her life. And society it’s as good as the sum of it’s Wisdom, a poor amount of wise individuals over a majority of ignorant people, do not reflect good at the state of society, period.
Knowledge and Wisdom
Knowledge it’s acquired with teaching, and schooling, Wisdom it’s shown by our behavior, in how we apply what we have learnt.
We want a better World, we need a better society, we want a better society, equals better individuals, we want better individuals, they need to be taught, more education, less evils, like violence, war, poverty, crime, and less ignorant people.
And we cannot slack on it, as we are currently doing, and no, it’s shouldn’t be about money, and a privilege for the few, but about the right of the individual to have an inalienable right to education, at all levels, and World governments around the globe should be hold responsible, and accountable of doing so.
Even with a great education, I do not believe we will be free of problems, however I know we will be a lot better.
Acquiring Knowledge, and Wisdom should be a priority of our existence, like in the Greek word Arete, or moral virtues, Knowledge, and Wisdom are the sinequanone in all Sacred Paths, I have talked about that abundantly in many past posts, so I would not do it here.
“Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.
One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.
The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”
This teaching it’s so famous, and well known, that now it’s almost trivial, and yet the opportunity to be applied in today’s World at large, is practically endless!
A less well known phrase is Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese Martial Arts.
The well known Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Changing People’s Minds
The famous french woman writer Anais Nin once said: “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” To see things as they are, instead of how we are, it requires leaving preconceptions behind, a receptive open mind, quieting of the ego, and a cultivation of the beginner’s mind.
We live in a political system known as democracy, even if it’s just a name, not a reality, and we feel, are entitled to our own opinions, and we see fit free to express it, regardless if we cannot add a single thing that can make any sense, or if it’s needed, when out of politeness people do not say nothing to avoid confrontations, despite the stupidity a particular individual may show.
One of the greatest tasks you can ever start, it’s to change people’s mind regarding any subject, a thing most of us avoid at all cost, we rather avoid the person in question than trying to set him straight.
We have made phrases of wisdom like: ‘Never argue about politics, or religion.’
Therefore our conversations are mainly trivial stuff, who almost nobody really cares, specially with those you got to deal not out of friendliness, but by duty, like family, or people you work with, specially if they are above you in rank. If you really want to talk about something important you go to a like minded friend, who you know he/she will not challenge you but confirm, and share your ideas, after all who needs a bad time confronting someone? In fact we choose friends more based on comfort, and ‘friendliness,’ instead of choosing people who can have a positive influence on us, and teaching us good things, despite the difficulties of being corrected, and told we are wrong.
On True Learning
Well, our focus, it’s not about our ideas, and how we see the World, but about our readiness to learn new things, so pardoning the digression above, just to show the rigidity of our minds, and how we are use to live with our preconceived ideas about almost anything, regardless of how little we may know about it.
Contrary at what most people’s think, learning it’s not difficult, actually what’s really difficult it is to change our attitude!
Perhaps it’s better today, I wonder, but reflecting, and being honest, even as children most of us with few exceptions granted, we went through school, as a duty, and found it a drudgery, only dissipated by the ring bell telling us recess was next, and it was time to play with friends, or it was finally time to go home!
Attitude, The Key Element To Learning
We know things, or we do not know, or maybe we know a little, but not enough, we have not even an idea, or we think we know better, but in reality it’s common to know nothing.
Humbleness it is a key to learning, admitting we do not know a subject it’s essential to learning, so to look for a qualified teacher to teach us, is the first step we need to take. A teacher can be many things, a person, a book, and above life, is the best teacher, by being humble we are accepting we are in lack of knowledge and we desire to improve, so we set to the task at hand which is to learn what we are in need to.
Now, observe we do not ask children to know if they approve, or desire to go to school, or not, children are in most countries obligated to attend school, some countries even penalize parents who do not take children to school.
As adults we are the ones who have to self motivate ourselves, and there is no way around it. Therefore our attitude to learn is primordial, otherwise it’s a no go situation, we are stuck!
Once we change our attitude, we are ready to, for whatever it’s necessary in order to learn, all these things may seem self evident, but if they are, how come so few people pay any attention to them?
There is a Hispanic saying: ‘Desde que se inventaron las excusas se acabaron los idiotas.’
An equivalent will be: ” Inventing an excuse, eliminates looking like an idiot.”
Excuses are just a way, to avoid changing our attitude, and they not remove the the obstacles for learning.
And therefore emptying the cup it’s a total change of attitude, and a preparation to open our senses, and our attention, and be ready to learn.
Now, pay attention and be ready to listen, and do the right thing, be alert!
Now in a lighter tone a long list, of random quotes on foolishness, and stupidity:
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity. Arthur Schopenhauer
Stupidity is a talent for misconception.
Edgar Allan Poe
In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.
Michel de Montaigne
You know when you’re young, you have this unbelievable stupidity and arrogance and ignorance all mixed in?
People’s ignorance really pisses me off. Stupidity is when you can’t help it -ignorance is when you choose not to understand something.
Never attribute to malice, that which can be reasonably explained by stupidity.
I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.
Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.
Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.”
Irony is wasted on the stupid
Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.
THE SUBJECTIVE REALM, A KINGDOM OF THE IMAGINATION, POST-STRUCTURALISM, IBN ARABI, DANTE, AND MIND BENDING MOVIES
The world is an illusion; it has no real existence. And this is what is meant by ‘imagination’ (khayāl). For you just imagine that it (i.e., the world) is an autonomous reality quite different from and independent of the Absolute Reality, while in truth it is nothing of the sort’…. Know that you yourself are an imagination. And everything that you perceive and say to yourself, ‘this is not me’, is also an imagination. So that the whole world of existence is imagination within imagination.
I like to point out to anyone who may want to listen, that the world we live in, and we consider an indisputable fact of existence, it’s not so, contrary from what most of us think, we do not live in the World, the World lives into our subjective consciousness.
When we go to sleep the world we know, disappear totally, and if we dream ( We all do, some of us just do not recall the dreams, or are easily forgotten.) a new reality emerge during our dreams, were images, colors, ideas, emotions, and actions acquire a confusing atmosphere, of incomprehensible, or unintelligible gibberish, completely meaningless, sometimes with flashes of profound intuitive insights, that are totally mysterious in nature, but appear as some sort of connection, or an ethereal link to our particular everyday reality.
There is nothing new to this fact, except our ignorance about the subject.
Mind Bending Movies
Artist, like novelist, movie directors, aware of this fact had produced all kind of films were our basic principles about reality are questioned like The Matrix, Dark City, What Dreams May Come, The thirteen Floor, and others.
The Matrix draws from and makes reference to numerous cinematic and literary works, and concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy.The Matrix also makes reference to the ideas of Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism dualism, Hinduism, and Judaism. The Matrix‘s premise resembles the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Andrew Godoski from Screened.com observed Neo’s “virgin birth”, his doubt in himself, the prophecy of his coming, along with many Christianity references. In The Matrix, a copy of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation is visible on-screen as the book used to conceal disks, and Morpheus quotes its phrase “desert of the real”. The book was required reading for the actors prior to filming. Baudrillard himself said that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work. Check my post MANICHAEISM, AN ONTOLOGICAL, DUALISTIC VIEW ON THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE March 2017
Baudrillard’s published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the post-structuralist philosophical school. In common with many post-structuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or “signs” interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as do many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. See my posts:
DELEUZE, WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENDLESS REVERSING OF THE SOCK. April 2013)
LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS February 2013
One can make a connection between the premise of The Matrix and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; once one accepts that The Matrix is an illusion, then the allegory of the cave becomes clear. The allegory is related to Plato’s theory of Forms, (Archetypes) which holds that the true essence of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather its quality, and that most people perceive only the shadow of the object and are thus limited to false perception. See my post:
THE WORLD WITHOUT DUST, GEOGRAPHICAL ARCHETYPES OF THE SOUL March 2012
Morpheus of the matrix paraphrases the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi when he asks Neo, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you weren’t able to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference from the real world and the dream world?”
I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
In the movie Inception (2010) the character Dom Cobb says: ‘Well dreams, they feel real while we’re in them, right? It’s only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange.’
Khayāl-The World of Creative Imagination
“Now in a dream, our mind continuously does this, we create and perceive our world simultaneously and our mind does this so well that we don’t even know it’s happening.” –Cobb
One of the most important concepts in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writing, which Inception illustrates beautifully, is a term called khayāl, which scholars translate as “imagination” or “imaginal faculty” to separate it from the illusory or derogatory connotations of the word “imaginary.” The world of khayāl is imaginary in that it the same stuff which dreams are made of, but this stuff is real, at least partially so. For example, most of us spend our lives in this imaginal world, not only during dreams, but also during our ordinary, everyday lives. When we see a color, or smell perfume, or feel an itch, our minds/souls are actually creating these sensations out of physical stimuli. We don’t see electromagnetic radiation with a 700 nm wavelength, we see red. Our minds “imagine” the sensory reality in which we live, simultaneously creating and perceiving these experiences, much like how Cobb described the process of dreaming to Ariadne during her first shared dream. In fact, Ibn ‘Arabi writes that one of the purposes of dreams is to alert us to this aspect of our existence, writing that “The only reason God placed sleep in the animate world was so that everyone might witness the Presence of Imagination and know that there is another world similar to the [everyday] sensory world.” For Ibn ‘Arabi, this imaginal world encompasses all human experience, and the imaginal faculty of ours gives form not only to physical but also metaphysical realities or archetypes. If you’ve ever written a melody or a poem, or drawn a picture, you’re already familiar with the magical process of imagination, the process of giving tangible forms to intangible ideas, concepts, and emotions. This is the function of the imaginal faculty, to bring together “pure ideas” and meanings and clothe them in sensible forms. But what of the reality of these things behind their imaginal forms, and what of reality itself? Most of us take these sensory, imaginal forms to be our reality, and are happy living out our days in this seemingly solid world. But Ibn ‘Arabi takes a different stance. Quoting the famous Prophetic tradition, “People are asleep, when they die, they awaken,”
It doesn’t matter if the top is spinning or not Before I continue, a quick aside about the much-debated end of the film is in order. I take the position that the film’s end is meant to be ambiguous and ambivalent, and I am completely uninterested in the director’s intentions or if, at the end, Cobb is “really” in a dream or back to reality. Part of the point is that the film is a dream, a phantom, a story, an illusion, so there is no “what really happens” on that level of reality. Dreams, like good movies and literature, are ambiguous and resist being pinned down to simple, literal descriptions, and this is simply the nature of all imaginal reality (more on this later). For the purposes this essay, I will take the perspective that whether or not the top stopped spinning, the film ends with Cobb still in a dream state, and in fact, Cobb has been in a dream state throughout the entire film. The entire action of the film takes place in a dream, the impossible dream technology with all of its logic-bending features, all the characters, everything, is part of a dream. In short, even if the top falls, he’s still dreaming because the top we see only ever existed in a dream.
Imagination and the limits of reason One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work for modern readers is his critique of reason. As Ibn ‘Arabi is fond of pointing out, one of the Arabic words for “reason,” ‘aql, 64 comes from the verb ‘aqala which means to “bind” or “fetter.” In this sense, reason is useful in that it allows us to get a handle on things and deal with them conceptually. However, in doing so, reason necessarily distorts reality by trying to delimit, define, and “bind” it in its rational schemas. Reason cannot deal with paradoxes and seeks to resolve ambiguities into “either/or” relations, while the worlds of imagination are characterized by the relations of “neither/nor” and “both/and.” But for Ibn ‘Arabi, reason and imagination are not opposed to each other; rather, they are complementary. Reason is critical and analytic, while imagination is creative and synthetic. A balance of both is needed to achieve the correct view of things, which Ibn ‘Arabi calls “seeing with two eyes.” The eye of reason distinguishes the real from the unreal, and the eye of imagination sees the images, reflections, and dreams that make up our world as simultaneously real and unreal. This formulation is particularly apt, because you need two eyes in order perceive the third dimension correctly, just as you need both reason and imagination to understand the metaphysical dimension of the world. With the eye of reason, we can discriminate things from each other and see the multiplicity of the world, and with the eye of imagination, we can see the many things as one. Ibn ‘Arabi argues that in order to understand things properly, we have to see both ways at once.
In Inception, Eames represents the pole of imagination, while Arthur represents that of reason. Eames calls Arthur a “stick in the mud,” and during a gunfight, tells him, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling,” before mysteriously producing a grenade launcher. Their friendly rivalry in the planning stages of the mission, in which Arthur demands “specificity,” while Eames calls inception a “subtle art,” teases Arthur for his condescension, and declares, “to perform Inception, you need imagination,” wonderfully illustrates the creative tension between imagination and reason. The ensuing fantastical fight scenes and Arthur’s ingenious (and wonderfully shot), gravity-free “kick” vividly depict the process of “seeing with both eyes,” of thinking simultaneously inside and beyond a given dream level. The team’s ability to think both vertically and horizontally, to “see with both eyes,” is what allows them to navigate the labyrinth of dream worlds. Similarly, for Ibn ‘Arabi, “seeing with both eyes” is what allows people to navigate the labyrinth of the imaginal worlds that make up our existence both before and after death. Unaware of the various levels of reality, the unimaginative projections are bound to one level of reality and its rules, while with the aid of imagination, Cobb and his team jump from level to level, bending and breaking the local laws of logic as they go. Reason is a tool and like most tools, works best in conjunction with others. In fact, pure reason has to be coupled with imagination and insight in order to work at all.65 This fact, and the limitations of reason, can be somewhat difficult for us to grasp today, because we live in a world that undervalues insight and imagination, and is simultaneously irrational and corroded by over-rationalization. Turned against imagination and insight, instead of working in conjunction with them, modern reason has tried, and then given up on addressing issues it can’t handle on its own, such as metaphysics, ethics, and teleology. For this reason, fundamental questions such as “What is real?”, “What is right?”, and “What are we here for?” are often better engaged by artists (such as filmmakers) than by scientists and academic philosophers.
What Dreams may come
The title comes from a line in Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be…” soliloquy, namely, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause.” The plot outline in the novel contains several allegorical references to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy (1308–1321).
The prologue is narrated by a man telling of his visit from a psychic woman, who gives him a manuscript she claims was dictated to her by his deceased brother Chris. Most of the novel consists of this manuscript.
Chris, a middle-aged man, is injured in an auto accident and dies in the hospital. He remains as a ghost, at first thinking he’s having a bad dream. Amid a failed séance that ends up reinforcing his wife’s belief that he didn’t survive death, an unidentified man keeps approaching Chris, telling him to concentrate on what’s beyond. Chris disregards this advice for a long time, unable to leave his wife Ann. After following the man’s advice, and focusing on pleasant memories, he feels himself being elevated.
He awakens in a beautiful glade, which he recognizes as a place where he and Ann traveled. Understanding now that he has died, he is surprised that he looks and feels alive, with apparently a physical body and sensations. After exploring the place for a while, he finds Albert, his cousin, who reveals himself as the unidentified man he had been seeing.
Albert explains that the place they occupy is called Summerland. Being a state of mind rather than a physical location, Summerland is practically endless and takes the form of the inhabitants’ wishes and desires. There is no pain or death, but people maintain occupations of sorts and perform leisure activities. The book depicts Summerland at length, through Chris’s eyes.
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
For centuries after the time of the Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabî, his remarkable discussions and conceptions of the “Imagination” (al-khayâl) were elaborated by Islamic philosophers, poets, artists and critics in order to explain, interpret and justify the full range of artistic and creative activities carried on within later Islamic cultures, as far away as India and Indonesia.1 Modern western students of Ibn ‘Arabî writing on such themes have tended to focus on the development of those ideas in his celebrated Fusûs al-Hikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) and its long line of traditional philosophic commentaries.2 But another major source of those classical Islamic understandings of the Imagination was in the Shaykh’s many discussions of the eschatological “Barzakh” or “intermediate world” of the divine Imagination–as well as his accounts of his own striking experiences and decisive spiritual encounters there–which are scattered throughout his magnum opus, al-Futûhât al-Makkîya (“The Meccan Illuminations”). One of his most extensive and widely influential discussions of the Imagination/Barzakh, in all its humanly relevant dimensions, was in the set of five eschatological chapters (61-65) within the long opening section of the Futûhât–chapters first brought to the attention of a wider Western audience in the famous studies by Asin-Palacios of Islamic themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
See my post:
EROS SUBLIMATED , THE MUNDUS IMAGINALIS April 2013
Now there are some people who perceive this imaged-object (al-mutakhayyal) with the eye of the (physical) sensation, and there are others who perceive it with the eye of imagination. Of course I’m referring here to (our perceptions) in the waking state, since during sleep (everyone) definitely perceives with the eye of imagination. So if a person wishes to distinguish between (those two modes of perception) in their waking state, whether in this world or at the Day of Resurrection, they can determine (which sort of perception it is) by looking at the imaged-object. Thus if [a] the states of what one is looking at continue to change as it changes its shape and characteristics, even though you can’t deny that it is still the same thing, and [b] the fact of observing it does not stop it from changing its shape and formation–as when a chameleon, when you observe it, stops changing its colors–then that is undoubtedly (being seen) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of the senses. For you perceive what-is-imagined (al-khayâl) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of (physical) sensation.
Indeed few of those who lay claim to the unveiled vision of spirits, whether of fire (i.e., jinn) or of light (angels), really understand how this is. When (those spirits) take on the image of perceptible forms, (most people) don’t know whether they are perceiving them with the eye of the imagination or with the eye of (physical) sensation–since both sorts of perception involve the sensing activity of the eye. That (inner sensing activity) is what presents the perception through both the eye of imagination and the eye of (physical) sensation. So this is a subtle form of knowledge: I mean the knowledge of the distinction between the two “eyes,” and between the sensing activity of the eye and the eye of (physical) sensation. One can know that (what one perceives) is indeed sensible, not imaginal, and that one has perceived it with the eye of sensation, not the eye of imagination (by the following conditions): [a] when the eye perceives the imaged-object and, without being distracted, sees that its shape and characteristics don’t change; [b] when it doesn’t see that imaged-object in different places at the same time, assuming it is definitely a single reality; and [c] that imaged-object doesn’t become changed or transformed into different states.
This is how you should understand how a human being can perceive their Lord–may He be exalted!–in a dream, even though He transcends any form or image, as well as how that perception of Him takes place and its limitations. And through this you may understand what has come down in the sound report (of the famous hadith) concerning the Creator’s “manifesting Himself (to souls at the Resurrection) in the most unlikely of forms among those in which they saw Him,” and concerning His “transformation into a form which they knew (before then),” after they had been denying Him and taking refuge from Him (in more agreeable forms of His manifestation).
So you should know with which eye you are seeing Him! For I have already let you know that (the divine) Imagination is perceived either through itself–I mean through the eye of imagination–or through the (physical) vision. And which of those two is the sound one on which we should rely?! Regarding that we (wrote these verses): When my Beloved appears to me, with which eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine: for none sees Him but Him! (This is only) in accordance with the transcendence of His Station and confirming His Words, since He says: “The gazes do not perceive Him, [but He perceives the gazes…]” (6:103), and He did not specify any particular Abode (of this world or the next), but sent it as an Verse unrestricted (in its applicability) and as a definite, confirmed matter. For none other than Him perceives Him, so it is with His eye–may He be praised!–that I see Him, as in (the famous divine saying in) the sound hadith-report: “…I (God) was his gaze through which he sees.” So wake up, you who are asleep and heedless of all this, and pay attention! I have opened up for you a door to forms of awareness and inner knowing that thoughts can never reach, though intellects can come to accept them, either through special divine Providence or by “polishing hearts with dhikr and recitation (of the Qur’an).” Then the intellect accepts what the divine Self- manifestation (tajalli) gives it and knows that that (imaginal revelation) is beyond its own power with respect to its thinking, indeed that its thinking could never give it that. Therefore (that person) gives thanks to God–may He be exalted!–Who created their constitution (nash’a) so that it could receive things like that: this being the constitution of the (divine) Messengers and prophets and those among the saints who are the recipients of special divine Providence. This is so that (such a person) may know that their receptivity (to what is bestowed by God) is higher and more noble than their own thinking. So realize, o my brother, from now on Who it is that is manifesting Himself to you from behind this door (of the imagination)! For this is a prodigious matter, where even the innermost hearts become bewildered.
In a world of darkness, controlled by time, images and roles shift and change in an ongoing nightmare as if part of a mad experiment. Everyone seems under the spell of sleep and forgetfulness, just vaguely remembering a distant memory of light and home, but unable to remember how to get back there. When the plan of darkness, attack thoughts and projection is finally uncovered and exposed, the upside-down world is turned right-side-up and bathed in the light of innocence—the present moment. There is no memory of a past. The games of fear and guilt are ended in the light of true love. In the light, Christ is recognized anew, as if for the very first time with no memory of the past.
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. For one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone completely mad. Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as the Strangers.
The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home beneath the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final result of their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic skills and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his skills, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book in a psychokinetic fight high above the city.
After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored, Murdoch exercises his new-found powers, amplified by the Strangers’ machine, to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with water and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the mind—to understand humanity. Murdoch turns the habitat toward the star it had been turned away from, and the city experiences sunlight for the first time.
He opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view the sunrise. Beyond him is a pier, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew.
Ibn Arabi The Horn of Light
Hence the imagination (as indicated in many familiar hadith) sees knowledge in the form of milk, or honey and wine and pearls; and it sees Islâm in the form a dome and pillars; and it sees the Qur’an in the form of butter and honey; and it sees Religion in the form of a bond; and it sees God (al-Haqq) in the form a human being and in the form of light…. As for this “horn” (of the Barzakh/Imagination) being made of “light” (according to the hadith mentioned above), that is because light is the immediate cause for (things) becoming unveiled and clearly appearing, since without light, vision would perceive nothing at all. So God made this Imagination as a “light” through which could be perceived the Bringing-into-form (taswîr) of every thing, whatever that might be, as we’ve already mentioned. His Light passes through the absolute nothingness so that He might shape it into the forms of being. Hence the Imagination is more deserving of the (divine) Name “the Light” (al-Nûr) than all the created things ordinarily described as “luminous,” since Its Light does not resemble the (created) lights and through It the divine Self-manifestations are perceived.
And It (or ‘He’) is the Light of the eye of imagination, not the light of the eye of sensation. So understand this! For if you understand how (the divine) Imagination is Light, and you know in what way it is (always) correct, then you will have an advantage over those who don’t know that–the sort of person who says: “that is only a false imagination!” That is because such people have failed to understand the perception of the light of imagination which has been given them by God. This is just like their saying that our senses are also “mistaken” in some of their perceptions, when in fact their sense-perceptions are sound, while the judgment (regarding the meaning of those perceptions) belongs to something else, not to the senses themselves. It is the judgment that is false, not the sensation. Likewise the imagination perceives with its light whatever it perceives, without passing judgment. The judgment only belongs to something else, which is the intellect, so the error can’t be attributed to the imagination. Thus there never is any “false imagination” at all–indeed all of it is correct!
The deepest aspect of your being resides in the inseparable, formless dimension of Eternal Presence.
Inception and Ibn Arabi by
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
James W Morris
HELOISE AND ABELARD, LOVE’S REQUITAL, FEMINISM AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY IN THE MIDDLE AGE, SCHOLARLY CHAUVINISM, AND CONTEMPORARY VIEWS, ON HELOISE LOVE LETTERS.
I would not want to give you cause for finding me disobedient in anything, so I have set the bridle of your injunction on the words which issue from my unbounded grief; thus in writing at least I may moderate what it is difficult or rather impossible to forestall in speech. For nothing is less under our control than our heart – having no power to command it we are forced to obey. And so when its impulses move us, none of us can stop their sudden promptings from easily breaking out, and even more easily overflowing into words which are the everready indications of the heart’s emotions: as it is written, ‘A man’s words are spoken from the overflowing of the heart.’ I will therefore hold my hand from writing words which I cannot restrain my tongue from speaking; would that a grieving heart would be as ready to obey as a writer’s hand!
Heloise on the Third Letter to Abelard.
‘Heloise and Abelard’ is one of history’s most passionate and romantic true love stories. The nine hundred year old love affair of the 12th century philosopher and theologian and his student Heloise continues to inspire and move us. Their passionate relationship scandalized the community in which they lived. The details of their physical and spiritual intimacy is also a cautionary tale for our time.
There are still societies whose policies result in rigid attitudes of intellectual, theological and sexual repression. This great love story, and the courage and passion of its protagonists, has much to teach us about our own understanding of religious tolerance, sexual equality and intellectual freedom.
Here is an admonitory tale screaming to us from across the centuries to reason, and to question, question, question!
In twelfth century Paris, the intellectually gifted young Heloise, the niece of Notre Dame’s Canon Fulbert, strives for knowledge, truth and the answer to the question of human existence. It soon becomes apparent that only one teacher in Paris can provide the education that she seeks. Though twenty years her senior, Abelard quickly becomes intrigued by Heloise’s uncommon wit and intelligence, for Heloise is on par intellectually with Abelard.
They soon find themselves so entwined that neither can resist the spiritual and physical desires of their bodies, yet they both know that the laws of the time forbid such a relationship. But their physical love and the strength of their passion proved to be a power impossible to resist.
When Heloise becomes pregnant, they realize it is not safe for her to remain in Paris. They flee for Brittany, Abelard’s place of birth. In a scheme to protect the dignity of his fallen niece, and return Heloise to his home, Canon Fulbert arranges a secret marriage between Heloise and Abelard. But shortly after the two lovers are wed, they discover Fulbert’s true plot is to ruin Abelard and keep Heloise for himself. For her safety, Heloise escapes to the convent at Argenteuil, but it is too late for Abelard and he is brutally attacked in Paris.
As a result of his humiliating punishment, Abelard no longer considers himself capable of continuing as a teacher at Notre Dame, and he and Heloise understand what they must do. Canon Bedell pleads with Abelard to not force such a fate upon Heloise, but both Heloise and Abelard agree that they must take Holy Orders as Monk and Nun. In a heartbreaking moment, Heloise must give up her child, knowing that she will never see him again.
Through their famous correspondence of twenty years, their love continues to flourish, in spite of their separation. After many years pass, in a chance meeting, Heloise and Abelard are briefly reunited at a ceremony in Paris. Though they have been physically apart all these years, at last in the sight of the other, the former lovers realize that the love they share is the reason for human existence. As the glorious ceremony begins, they triumphantly promise to remain “Forever One”.
They never met again, yet through their famous letters, their love endures.
“You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you.”
Six hundred years later, it was Josephine Bonaparte, so moved by their story, the she ordered that the remains of Abelard and Heloise be entombed together at Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris. To this day, lovers from all over the world visit the tomb where the remains of Heloise and Abelard rest eternally together.’
Now the above story, it’s a simplified versions, somewhat sweetened of the real struggle, on a Men dominated society, common, not only to Heloise, but of injustice for many women through the annals of History.
Heloise (1101-1164) was the niece and pride of Canon Fulbert. She was well-educated by her uncle in Paris. Abelard later writes in his autobiographical “Historica Calamitatum”: “Her uncle’s love for her was equaled only by his desire that she should have the best education which he could possibly procure for her. Of no mean beauty, she stood out above all by reason of her abundant knowledge of letters.”
John Marenbon, in his book on Abelard, has two chapters in which he deals with Heloise’s contribution to his ethics. The first of the two chapters is about dismissing claims that Heloise did not write her own letters. That, in itself, is telling. Take any woman philosopher who is not actually around to fight her ground, and chances are, someone will argue that she did not author her own work. Marenbon’s defense is spirited and convincing, but it does not go far towards building up an account of what Heloise might have had to contribute to the philosophy of her age. The second of the two chapters does a little better, as it claims that Abelard’s later account of Caritas as unconditional love of God was influenced by Heloise’s description of her love for Abelard. She, was, Marenbon said, a writer he had to take seriously, and this is reflected in his revisions of his own ethical thought.
‘Many commentators dealing with the question of Heloise’s tumultuous “inner life” as an abbess have focused primarily on Heloise’s refusal to relinquish her sexual desires for Abelard. In these cases, her desire has been construed as a form of subversion and transgression, thus relegating her to the position of the unruly female who must accept the “bridle of the [monastic] injunction.” Instead of being used as a heuristic for dialogue, it places the female subject into a position that must be controlled and subjugated. Rather than desire being an agent of actualization for the female subject, it shuts down avenues for negotiations of subjectivity. Furthermore, the inordinate focus on Heloise as a romantic heroine obscures the fact that she is also acutely anguished by the uncertainty of her heavenly reward. Despite claiming that she has done everything for the love of Abelard, Heloise still expresses her anxiety about her spiritual salvation. She believes that in her struggle against her own body and subjectivity, God will grant her a little “corner of heaven.” Thus, Heloise’s sudden redirection in the third letter should be approached for what it simply is, as a well-calculated rhetorical move on her part, for she knows that Abelard will not confront the question of her continued desire directly. Heloise starts afresh on another subject which she knows he would be more amenable to discuss, the management of the Oratory of the Paraclete. As such, though Heloise’s third letter to Abelard is submerged in mundane theological concerns, Robert Edwards argues that the third letter of Heloise continues an ongoing struggle and negotiation of and for desire. Desire here, however, is not only the overtly passionate eroticism that suffuses Heloise’s first two letters to Abelard, but desire in the broader sense, encompassing her own longing to attain intellectual communion with him. Prior to this letter, Heloise has already been sending a deluge of complaints to Abelard. She demands remuneration for the infinite debt he supposedly owes her; she pesters him to address her old perpetual complaint against God; she demands consolation for her emotional distress. In a sense, Heloise is seeking recognition from Abelard, asking him to realize that he has left her mired in their past, that he has forgotten about her after his castration. Abelard’s conversion is a continued source of anxiety and despair for Heloise, as she can no longer request the same sort of idealized engagement with him she so treasured from their past. Her dilemma arises from a desire explicitly forbidden by traditional monastic profession: a desire to let her past shape and influence her present and future religious life and a desire to construct a new order that would allow her to continue upholding her cherished notions of secular love.
And what a love it was. Until recently, we could read it directly only in eight letters discovered in the 13th century and composed long after the lovers’ entry into monastic life. The first, from Abelard, isn’t even directed to Heloise. Written for an unnamed monk, it’s what a medieval reader would have called a “letter of consolation,” meant to comfort a troubled friend by convincing him that your problems are greater than his. This early variant of schadenfreude, the so-called “Historia Calamitatum,” is how we learn of Abelard’s first arrival in Paris, of his growing renown as a teacher and his encounter with the well-educated young Heloise. Here too we learn of Abelard’s rash decision to move into her uncle Fulbert’s home and become her tutor, of their love and her pregnancy, of Fulbert’s rage, Abelard’s attempt to pacify him by proposing marriage and Heloise’s resistance — at least in part because of the damage it would do to her lover’s reputation. We learn that Abelard prevailed over his pupil, that the wedding was initially kept secret and that Fulbert ordered a terrible act of vengeance. Days after thugs broke into Abelard’s bedroom at night and castrated him, the newlyweds took vows of celibacy and repaired to their respective religious institutions.
The letters written after the “Historia Calamitatum” are the richest, containing the rash, ringing, reckless and altogether impious declarations of love for which Heloise will always be known. Here is a voice that refuses to stay in the Middle Ages; it reaches through the centuries and catches us at the throat. “Men call me chaste,” she writes. “They do not know the hypocrite I am.” Even during the celebration of Mass, she confesses, “lewd visions” of the pleasures she shared with Abelard “take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on prayers. I should be groaning over the sins I have committed, but I can only sigh for what I have lost.” She asserts the primacy of desire, boldly professing the amorous, sacrilegious motives that drove her into the convent: “It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone. . . . I can expect no reward for this from God, for it is certain that I have done nothing as yet for love of him. . . . I would have had no hesitation, God knows, in following you or going ahead at your bidding to the flames of hell.” Her bravado, her defiance, her ruthless honesty and her apotheosis of eros over morality are everywhere apparent — and still today they are shocking.
Love is Heloise’s religion, even when she’s wrapped in the robes of a nun. And in the practice of this religion, she is as uncompromising as she is unconventional. For her, love has no business with the law or money or social safety nets. It is for this reason, more than any other, that she opposes Abelard’s desire to wed: “I never sought anything in you except yourself. . . . I looked for no marriage bond.” Indeed, she proclaims,”if Augustus, emperor of the whole world, saw fit to honor me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess forever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to be called not his empress, but your whore.”
The dust will not settle on such words. At once intrepid and idealistic, transgressive and submissive, taboo-busting and sweet-natured, noble and naughty, they have seduced scholars for centuries. This woman, this prioress, who was prepared to sacrifice not just earthly reputation but heavenly salvation for the sake of her secular love, is a literary original. Petrarch couldn’t read her without scribbling exclamations in the margins; the three letters to Abelard that have come down to us from her monastic confinement have sufficed to make her name as a writer.
Only recently — and miraculously — has a new cache of material turned up, fragments of 113 letters that many scholars believe Abelard and Heloise exchanged before Abelard’s castration. Copied in the 15th century by a monk named Johannes de Vespria, discovered in 1980 by Constant J. Mews and finally published as “The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard,” these short but eloquent missives present two people vying — with no coyness or gender typecasting whatever — to outdo each other in expressions of adoration. “To a reddening rose under the spotless whiteness of lilies,” the woman addresses the man. “To his jewel, more pleasing and more splendid than the present light,” the man addresses the woman. The letters have unleashed a new storm of interest in the couple; it is to this that we owe the British filmmaker James Burge’s biography, “Abelard and Heloise.”
Burge spends much time glossing the new correspondence — unfortunately, trivializing rather than illuminating it. “This sounds to modern ears like a promise of sex,” he tells us at one point, then rushes to explain: “The question of when exactly they first consummated their love awaits more assiduous scholarship.” Given that scholars are still arguing about Heloise’s birth date (she’s been put between 15 and 27 years of age at the time of her encounter with Abelard, who would have been in his late 30’s), you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this golden factoid. But what’s really missing in Burge’s biography is an ear for the lyricism of his subjects’ correspondence, a feel for the mystery of their bond.
Antoine Audouard’s novel “Farewell, My Only One” doesn’t draw explicitly on the new letters, but it’s substantially truer to their spirit. It also has an ingenious narrative scheme: the story is told from the point of view of a wandering student, William, who falls in love with Heloise at the same time that he becomes Abelard’s disciple. When he has outlived both, at the end of the tale, we discover an even closer connection.
Audouard, a former director of the French publisher Laffont-Fixot, evokes in gritty and poetic detail the streets of 12th-century Paris (where the narrator tells us he “stumbled over a pig”). He’s also very good at conveying the process of infatuation: William falls for Heloise when she loses consciousness in a crowd: “I am not strong. I have never carried a woman,” he marvels. And yet he does, and even lunges after the flower that has fallen from her hair. “A few crushed petals” are all that remain, though, when he opens his “clenched fist” — a foretaste of what happens when we grasp what we love too firmly.
But Audouard spends too much time alone with William — building churches, cleaning grates, making friends — and we resent being taken away from the lovers. Then again, anyone writing about Abelard and Heloise must compete with their own eloquence. The early letters are so clear and beautiful they can be read alone, without anachronistic glossing or fictional superstructures. Like the later letters — recently reprinted in a volume edited by the British medievalist and Abelard biographer Michael Clanchy — they glow. Together they preserve the myth of a shining couple, persecuted by authority and hounded by circumstance but true to each other, ready for all sacrifice, passionate even to the grave.
It’s a potent myth and a necessary one — but it is a myth. The reality of Abelard and Heloise’s story may be no less moving, but it’s less than perfect. You could argue, first off, that their relationship was already on the decline by the time Abelard was castrated. And that Fulbert’s vengeance was taken because Abelard was insufficiently, rather than excessively, close to his niece. Heloise already lived in a convent at the time of Abelard’s mutilation — not as a nun, but nevertheless under the protection of the nuns. Ostensibly this was a tactic to preserve the secrecy of their marriage; to Fulbert, however, it may have suggested that Abelard was planning to get rid of his wife. Is this what it meant to her? The arrangement, in any case, was neither ideal nor particularly gallant, and Abelard’s visits were decreasing in frequency: “You sadden my spirit,” Heloise writes in the last of her early letters.
Is it possible that Fulbert’s crime saved rather than sank the lovers’ passion? That by turning Abelard into a romantic martyr at the very moment his interest was flagging, Fulbert reinvigorated Heloise’s loyalty and gave Abelard an excuse to ignore her without blame?
This is, in fact, what he did for the next 12 years. It wasn’t until Heloise had become abbess of her own convent and stumbled upon his “Historia Calamitatum” that she was able to draw Abelard back into communication with her. And even then religion had changed him; the passion and warmth of the early letters had fled.
In the later letters, Abélard has become pious and self-centered. When Heloise entreats him to take pity on her loneliness, he sends her a set of prayers to say for him. When she serenades their love, he moans about the trouble he’s having with the other monks at his abbey. Never an easy man to get on with, he has made blood enemies of men whose well-being he is supposed to preserve: they are, he assures Heloise, relentlessly trying to poison him. Therefore the refrain, “Pray for me.”
It is Heloise’s tact and generosity that allow the dialogue to continue and even attain exemplary dimensions. Seeing that her beloved is no longer capable of the language of passion, she smothers her love song (“the loss,” as Burge states, “is history’s”) and addresses him on the only terms he still knows and values. Like the star student she once was, she begins to quiz him on every biblical, monastic and moral question she can think of. In doing so, she inspires much of the most valuable — and satisfying — work of Abelard’s life. Disdained by his own monks as well as by the Vatican (he was twice condemned for heresy), he found an enthusiastic audience in Heloise and her nuns. It is for Heloise that he undertakes what one scholar has called “the most substantial writings of the 12th century on women’s place in Christianity”; it is for Heloise that he writes countless sermons, hymns and disquisitions on spiritual themes. Heloise’s convent becomes, in some sense, the couple’s joint project, their spiritual child. Their cooperation struck onlookers as a dazzling example of friendship between a man and a woman.
If Heloise didn’t get what she most wanted from Abelard, she got the very best he had to give. His reflections, his confidences and his final, all-important confession were addressed to her; his most urgent worldly plea was to be buried where she would be near him. Is their story a fraud because Abelard, as Mews has written, was “tagging along behind” Heloise in matters of the heart?
The love stories that touch us most deeply are punctuated by human frailty. Look at them up close and you see the fault lines, compromises and anticlimaxes. At the beginning of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo is just as intemperately in love with a girl called Rosaline as he is later with Juliet. Tristan and Isolde’s passion could well be the fruit of substance abuse, of a love potion they drank unknowingly. And Abélard and Heloise? They weren’t equally strong or passionate or generous. Still, they put their frailties together and begat a perfect myth, as well as something perhaps even more precious — a surprising, splendid, fractured reality. “There is a crack,” the Leonard Cohen lyric goes, “a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.”
The Problemata Heloissae, And My Motivation
In all honesty my original intention was to focus on Heloise’s as:
Problemata Heloissae (The “Questions” of Heloise): Prefatory Letter, Heloise to Abelard.
The letter introduces 42 questions (the “Problemata”) that have arisen from the daily biblical readings Heloise and her nuns do. The questions involve issues of sin and judgment, intention versus action, law and punishment, damnation and repentance, as well as contradictions or odd references in the Bible. Heloise does not hesitate to draw an analogy between herself and Marcella, Jerome’s celebrated and very learned colleague and correspondent.
However I understood that focusing on such letters the main story would be lost and that it’s Heloise main love’s requital to Abelard, so the Theological letters would be of no interest to most readers anyway, the real story is told above.
Too much had been said about the couple to add new insights into their story, so I just put together from several sources what I thought would be interesting to the readers if unfamiliar with the story.
Also I would like to remind to our readers how different the times in the Middle Ages were compared to our contemporary values, Religion was, how we should say? No a fact of Life, but ‘the major fact of Life’ that took precedence over anything else.
Books Discussed in This Essay
SHARON JANE GO SHUA A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters of Georgetown University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English
HELOISE AND ABELARD A New Biography. By James Burge. HarperSanFrancisco,
FAREWELL, MY ONLY ONE By Antoine Audouard. Translated by Euan Cameron. Houghton Mifflin,
ABELARD AND HELOISE By Constant J. Mews. Oxford University, cloth, $74; paper,
THE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE Translated With an Introduction and Notes by Betty Radice. Revised by M. T. Clanchy. Penguin, paper,
THE LOST LETTERS OF HELOISE AND ABELARD Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France. By Constant J. Mews. With Translations by Neville Chiavaroli and Constant J. Mews. Palgrave Macmillan.
Cristina Nehring Eloise and Abelard: Love Hurts. writes regularly for The Atlantic. She is the author of the forthcoming “Women in Love From Simone de Beauvoir to Sylvia Plath: A Feminist Defense of Romance.”
“As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make merry day and night.
Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.
Day and night dance and play!
Let your garments be sparkling fresh,
Your head be washed; bathe in water.
Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,
Let a spouse delight in your bosom.
These things are alone the concern of men.”
Siduri the Barmaid to Gilgamesh.
Which may represent the first recorded advocacy of a hedonistic philosophy.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet X
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure and happiness are the primary or most important intrinsic goods and the proper aim of human life. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain), but when having finally gained that pleasure, either through intrinsic or extrinsic goods, happiness remains stationary.
Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them. It is also the idea that every person’s pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.
Hedonism is a sub-philosophy of utilitarianism, which says to act in a way that maximizes utility. Hedonists equate pleasure with utility and believe that pleasure is the master of all humankind, and acts as the ultimate life goal. Hedonists believe that there are only two motivators of human action, pleasure and pain, and that decisions should only be made that further our pleasurable experiences and minimize or completely eliminate our painful ones.
David Pearce is co-founder of Humanity, formerly the World Transhumanist Association, and a prominent figure within the transhumanism movement.
Based in Brighton, England, Pearce maintains a series of websites devoted to transhumanist topics and what he calls the “hedonistic imperative”, a moral obligation to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative(1995), outlines how pharmacology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and neurosurgery could converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience from human and non-human life, replacing suffering with “gradients of bliss”. Pearce calls this the “abolitionist project”.
A vegan, Pearce argues that humans have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animal within human society but also to redesign the global ecosystem so that animals do not suffer in the wild.
Hedonistic Transhumanism Manifesto
This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.
Contemporary images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatize, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. Thus states of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. Our descendants may live in a civilization of serenely well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.
Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the developed world now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.
Pearce’s ideas inspired an abolitionist school of transhumanism, or “hedonistic transhumanism”, based on his idea of “paradise engineering” and his argument that the abolition of suffering—which he calls the “abolitionist project”—is a moral imperative.
Transhumanism(abbreviated as H+ orh+) is an international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.
Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human as well as ethical limitations of using such technologies. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the natural condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings.
The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School in the 1960s, when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to posthumanity as “transhuman”. The assertion would lay the intellectual groundwork for the British philosopher Max More to begin articulating the principles of transhumanism as a futurist philosophy in 1990 and organizing in California an intelligentsia that has since grown into the worldwide transhumanist movement.
Influenced by seminal works of science fiction, the transhumanist vision of a transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of perspectives, including philosophy and religion. Transhumanism has been characterized by one critic, Francis Fukuyama, as among the “world’s most dangerous ideas”, to which Ronald Bailey has countered that it is rather the “movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative and idealistic aspirations of humanity”
Here are three scenarios in ascending order of sociological plausibility:
b) Utopian designer drugs
c) genetic engineering and – what I want to focus on – the impending reproductive revolution of designer babies
a) Recall wireheading is direct stimulation of the pleasure centres of the brain via implanted electrodes. Intracranial self-stimulation shows no physiological or subjective tolerance i.e. it’s just as rewarding after two days as it is after two minutes. Wireheading doesn’t harm others; it has a small ecological footprint; it banishes psychological and physical pain; and arguably it’s a lot less offensive to human dignity than having sex. Admittedly, lifelong wireheading sounds an appealing prospect only to a handful of severe depressives. But what are the technical arguments against its adoption?
Well, wireheading is not an evolutionary stable solution: there would be selection pressure against its widespread adoption. Wireheading doesn’t promote nurturing behavior: wireheads, whether human or non-human, don’t want to raise baby wireheads. Uniform, indiscriminate bliss in the guise of wireheading or its equivalents would effectively bring the human experiment to an end, at least if it were adopted globally. Direct neurostimulation of the reward centers destroys informational sensitivity to environmental stimuli. So assuming we want to be smart – and become smarter – we have a choice. Intelligent agents can have a motivational structure based on gradients of ill-being, characteristic of some lifelong depressives today. Or intelligent agents can have our current typical mixture of pleasures and pains. Or alternatively, we could have an informational economy of mind based entirely on [adaptive] gradients of cerebral bliss – which I’m going to argue for.
Actually, this dismissal of wireheading may be too quick. In the far future, one can’t rule out offloading everything unpleasant or mundane onto inorganic supercomputers, prostheses and robots while we enjoy uniform orgasmic bliss. Or maybe not orgasmic bliss, possibly some other family of ideal states that simply couldn’t be improved upon. But that’s speculative. Whatever our ultimate destination, it would be more prudent, I think, to aim for both super happiness and super intelligence – at least until we understand the full implications of what we are doing. There isn’t a moral urgency to maximizing super happiness in the same way as there is to abolishing suffering.
[It’s worth noting that the offloading option assumes that inorganic computers, prostheses and robots don’t – or at least needn’t – experience subjective phenomenal pain even if their functional architecture allows them to avoid and respond to noxious stimuli. This absence of inorganic suffering is relatively uncontroversial with existing computers – switching off one’s PC doesn’t have ethical implications, and a silicon robot can be programmed to avoid corrosive acids without experiencing agony if it’s damaged. It’s debatable whether any computational system with a classical von Neumann architecture will ever be interestingly conscious. I’m skeptical; but either way, it doesn’t affect the offloading option, unless one argues that the subjective texture of suffering is functionally essential to any system capable of avoiding harmful stimuli.]
b) The second technical option for eradicating suffering is futuristic designer drugs. In an era of mature post-genomic medicine, will it be possible rationally to design truly ideal pleasure-drugs that deliver lifelong, high-functioning well-being without unacceptable side-effects? “Ideal pleasure drugs” here is just a piece of shorthand. Such drugs can in principle embrace cerebral, empathetic, aesthetic and perhaps spiritual well-being – and not just hedonistic pleasure in the usual one-dimensional and amoral sense.
We’re not talking here about recreational euphoriants, which simply activate the negative feedback mechanisms of the brain; nor the shallow, opiated contentment of a Brave New World; nor drugs that induce euphoric mania, with its uncontrolled excitement, loss of critical insight, grandiosity and flight of ideas. Can we develop true wonder drugs that deliver sublime well-being on a sustainable basis, re calibrating the hedonic treadmill to ensure a high quality of life for everyone?
A lot of people recoil from the word “drugs” – which is understandable given today’s noxious street drugs and their uninspiring medical counterparts. Yet even academics and intellectuals in our society typically take the prototypical dumb drug, ethyl alcohol. If it’s socially acceptable to take a drug that makes you temporarily happy and stupid, then why not rationally design drugs to make people perpetually happier and smarter? Presumably, in order to limit abuse-potential, one would want any ideal pleasure drug to be akin – in one limited but important sense – to nicotine, where the smoker’s brain finely calibrates its optimal level: there is no uncontrolled dose-escalation.
There are of course all kinds of pitfalls to drug-based solutions. Technically, I think these pitfalls can be overcome, though I won’t try to show this here. But there is a deeper issue. If there weren’t something fundamentally wrong – or at least fundamentally inadequate – with our existing natural state of consciousness bequeathed by evolution, then we wouldn’t be so keen to change it. Even when it’s not unpleasant, everyday consciousness is mediocre compared to what we call peak experiences. Ordinary everyday consciousness was presumably adaptive in the sense it helped our genes leave more copies of themselves on the African Savannah; but why keep it as our default-state indefinitely? Why not change human nature by literally repairing our genetic code?
Again, this dismissal of pharmacological solutions may be too quick. Arguably, Utopian designer drugs may always be useful for the fine-grained and readily reversible control of consciousness; and I think designer drugs will be an indispensable tool to explore the disparate varieties of conscious mind. But wouldn’t it be better if we were all born with a genetic predisposition to psychological super-health rather than needing chronic self-medication? Does even the most ardent abolitionist propose to give cocktails of drugs to all children from birth; and then to take such drug cocktails for the rest of our lives?
c) So thirdly, there are genetic solutions, embracing both somatic and germ line therapy.
By way of context, today there is a minority of people who are always depressed or dysthymic, albeit to varying degrees. Studies with mono- and dizygotic twins confirm there is a high degree of genetic loading for depression. Conversely, there are some people who are temperamentally optimistic. Beyond the optimists, there is a very small minority of people who are what psychiatrists call hyperthymic. Hyperthymic people aren’t manic or bipolar; but by contemporary standards, they are always exceedingly happy, albeit sometimes happier than others. Hyperthymic people respond “appropriately” and adaptively to their environment. Indeed they are characteristically energetic, productive and creative. Even when they are blissful, they aren’t “blissed out”.
Now what if, as a whole civilization, we were to opt to become genetically hyperthymic – to adopt a motivational system driven entirely by adaptive gradients of well-being? More radically, as the genetic basis of hedonic tone is understood, might we opt to add multiple extra copies of hyperthymia-promoting genes/allelic combinations and their regulatory promoters – not abolishing homeostasis and the hedonic treadmill but shifting our hedonic set-point to a vastly higher level?
Three points here:First, this genetic re-calibration might seem to be endorsing another kind of uniformity; but it’s worth recalling that happier people – and especially hyperdopaminergic people – are typically responsive to a broader range of potentially rewarding stimuli than depressives: they engage in more exploratory behavior. This makes getting stuck in a sub-optimal rut less likely, both for the enhanced individual and posthuman society as a whole.
Secondly, universal hyperthymia might sound like a gigantic experiment; and in a sense of course it is. But all sexual reproduction is an experiment. We play genetic roulette, shuffling our genes and then throwing the genetic dice. Most of us flinch at the word “eugenics”; but that’s what we’re effectively practicing, crudely and incompetently, when we choose our prospective mates. The difference is that within the next few decades, prospective parents will be able to act progressively more rationally and responsibly in their reproductive decisions. Pre-implantation genetic screening is going to become routine; artificial wombs will release us from the constraints of the human birth-canal; and a revolution in reproductive medicine will begin to replace the old Darwinian lottery. The question is not whether a reproductive revolution is coming, but rather what kinds of being – and what kinds of consciousness – do we want to create?
Thirdly, isn’t this reproductive revolution going to be the prerogative of rich elites in the West? Probably not for long. Compare the brief lag between the introduction of, say, mobile phones and their world-wide adoption with the 50 year time-lag between the introduction and world-wide adoption of radio; and the 20 year lag between the introduction and world-wide penetration of television. The time-lag between the initial introduction and global acceptance of new technologies is shrinking rapidly. So of course is the price.
Anyway, one of the advantages of genetically re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than abolishing it altogether, at least for the foreseeable future, is that the functional analogues of pain, anxiety, guilt and even depression can be preserved without their nasty raw feels as we understand them today. We can retain the functional analogues of discontent – arguably the motor of progress – and retain the discernment and critical insight lacking in the euphorically manic. Even if hedonic tone is massively enhanced, and even if our reward centers are physically and functionally amplified, then it’s still possible in principle to conserve much of our existing preference architecture. If you prefer Mozart to Beethoven, or philosophy to pushpin, then you can still retain this preference ranking even if your hedonic tone is hugely enriched.
Now personally, I think it would be better if our preference architecture were radically changed, and we pursued [please pardon the jargon] a “re-encephalisation of emotion”. Evolution via natural selection has left us strongly predisposed to form all manner of dysfunctional preferences that harm both ourselves and others for the benefit of our genes. Recall Genghis Khan: “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”
Now I’m told academia isn’t quite that bad, but even university life has its forms of urbane savagery – its competitive status-seeking and alpha-male dominance rituals: a zero-sum game with many losers. Too many of our preferences reflect nasty behaviors and states of mind that were genetically adaptive in the ancestral environment. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if we rewrote our own corrupt code? I’ve focused here on genetically enhancing hedonic tone. Yet mastery of the biology of emotion means that we’ll be able, for instance, to enlarge our capacity for empathy, functionally amplifying mirror neurons and engineering a sustained increase in oxytocin-release to promote trust and sociability. Likewise, we can identify the molecular signatures of, say, spirituality, our aesthetic sense, or our sense of humor – and modulate and “over-express” their psychological machinery too. From an information-theoretic perspective, what is critical to an adaptive, flexible, intelligent response to the world is not our absolute point on a hedonic scale but that we are informationally sensitive to differences. Indeed information theorists sometimes simply define information as a “difference that makes a difference”.
However, to stress again, this re-encephalisation of emotion is optional. It’s technically feasible to engineer the well-being of all sentience and retain most but not all of our existing preference architecture. The three technical options for abolishing suffering presented here – wireheading, designer drugs and genetic engineering – aren’t mutually exclusive. Are they exhaustive? I don’t know of any other viable options. Some transhumanists believe we could one day all be scanned, digitized and uploaded into inorganic computers and reprogrammed. Well, perhaps, I’m skeptical; but in any case, this proposal doesn’t solve the suffering of existing organic life unless we embrace so-called destructive uploading – a holocaust option I’m not even going to consider here.
2: WHY IT SHOULD HAPPEN
Assume that within the next few centuries we will acquire these Godlike powers over our emotions. Assume, too, that the signalling function of unpleasant experience can be replaced – either through the re-calibration argued for here, or through the offloading of everything unpleasant or routine to inorganic prostheses, bionic implants or inorganic computers – or perhaps through outright elimination in the case of something like jealousy. Why should we all be abolitionists?
If one is a classical utilitarian, then the abolitionist project follows: it’s Bentham plus biotechnology. One doesn’t have to be a classical utilitarian to endorse the abolition of suffering; but all classical utilitarians should embrace the abolitionist project. Bentham championed social and legislative reform, which is great as far as it goes; but he was working before the era of biotechnology and genetic medicine.
If one is a scientifically enlightened Buddhist, then the abolitionist project follows too. Buddhists, uniquely among the world’s religions, focus on the primacy of suffering in the living world. Buddhists may think that the Noble Eight fold Path offers a surer route to Nirvana than genetic engineering; but it’s hard for a Buddhist to argue in principle against biotech if it works. Buddhists focus on relieving suffering via the extinction of desire; yet it’s worth noting this extinction is technically optional, and might arguably lead to a stagnant society. Instead it’s possible both to abolish suffering and continue to have all manner of desires.
Persuading followers of Islam and the Judaeo-Christian tradition is more of a challenge. But believers claim – despite anomalies in the empirical evidence – that Allah/God is infinitely compassionate and merciful. So if mere mortals can envisage the well-being of all sentience, it would seem blasphemous to claim that God is more limited in the scope of His benevolence.
Most contemporary philosophers aren’t classical utilitarians or Buddhists or theists. Why should, say, an ethical pluralist take the abolitionist project seriously?
Here I want to take as my text Shakespeare’s
“For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently.
[Much Ado About Nothing, Scene Five, Act One (Leonato speaking)]
When one is gripped by excruciating physical pain, one is always shocked at just how frightful it can be.
It’s tempting to suppose that purely “psychological” pain – loneliness, rejection, existential angst, grief, anxiety, depression – can’t be as atrocious as extreme physical pain; yet the reason over 800,000 people in the world take their own lives every year is mainly psychological distress. It’s not that other things – great art, friendship, social justice, a sense of humor, cultivating excellence of character, academic scholarship, etc – aren’t valuable; but rather when intense physical or psychological distress intrudes – either in one’s own life or that of a loved one – we recognize that this intense pain has immediate priority and urgency. If you are in agony after catching your hand in the door, then you’d give short shrift to someone who urged you to remember the finer things in life. If you’re distraught after an unhappy love affair, then you don’t want to be tactlessly reminded it’s a beautiful day outside.
OK, while it lasts, extreme pain or psychological distress has an urgency and priority that overrides the rest of one’s life projects; but so what? When the misery passes, why not just get on with one’s life as before?
Well, natural science aspires to “a view from nowhere”, a notional God’s-eye view. Physics tells us that no here-and-now is privileged over any other; all are equally real. Science and technology are shortly going to give us Godlike powers over the entire living world to match this Godlike perspective. I argue that so long as there is any sentient being who is undergoing suffering similar to our distress, that suffering should be tackled with the same priority and urgency as if it were one’s own pain or the pain of a loved one. With power comes complicity. Godlike powers carry godlike responsibilities. Thus the existence of suffering 200 years ago, for instance, may indeed have been terrible; but it’s not clear that such suffering can sensibly be called “immoral” – because there wasn’t much that could be done about it. But thanks to biotechnology, now there is – or shortly will be. Over the next few centuries, suffering of any kind is going to become optional.
If you’re not a classical ethical utilitarian, the advantage of re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than simply seeking to maximize super-happiness is that you are retaining at least a recognizable descendant of our existing preference architecture. Re-calibration of the hedonic treadmill can be made consistent with your existing value scheme. Hence even the ill-named “preference utilitarian” can be accommodated. Indeed control over the emotions means that you can pursue your existing life projects more effectively.
And what about the alleged character-building function of suffering? “That which does not crush me makes me stronger”, said Nietzsche. This worry seems misplaced. Other things being equal, enhancing hedonic tone strengthens motivation – it makes us psychologically more robust. By contrast, prolonged low mood leads to a syndrome of learned helplessness and behavioral despair.
I haven’t explicitly addressed the value nihilist – the subjectivist or ethical skeptic who says all values are simply matters of opinion, and that one can’t logically derive an “ought” from an “is”.
Well, let’s say I find myself in agony because my hand is on a hot stove. That agony is intrinsically motivating, even if my conviction that I ought to withdraw my hand doesn’t follow the formal canons of logical inference.
If one takes the scientific world-picture seriously, then there is nothing ontologically special or privileged about here-and-now or me – the egocentric illusion is a trick of perspective engineered by selfish DNA.
If it’s wrong for me to be in agony, then it is wrong for anyone, anywhere.
3: WHY IT WILL HAPPEN
OK, it’s technically feasible. A world without suffering would be wonderful; and full-blown paradise-engineering even better. But again, so what? It’s technically feasible to build a thousand-metre cube of cheddar cheese. Why is a pain-free world going to happen? Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking. Perhaps we’ll opt to retain the biology of suffering indefinitely.
The counterargument here is that whether or not one is sympathetic to the abolitionist project, we are heading for a reproductive revolution of designer babies. Prospective parents are soon going to be choosing the characteristics of their future children. We’re on the eve of the Post-Darwinian Transition, not in the sense that selection pressure will be any less severe, but evolution will no longer be “blind” and “random”: there will no longer be natural selection but unnatural selection. We will be choosing the genetic makeup of our future offspring, selecting and designing alleles and allelic combinations in anticipation of their consequences. There will be selection pressure against nastier alleles and allelic combinations that were adaptive in the ancestral environment.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rigorous argument, but imagine you are choosing the genetic dial-settings for mood – the hedonic set-point – of your future children. What settings would you pick? You might not want gradients of lifelong super-happiness, but the overwhelming bulk of parents will surely want to choose happy children. For a start, they are more fun to raise. Most parents across most cultures say, I think sincerely, that they want their children to be happy. One may be skeptical of parents who say happiness is the only thing they care about for their kids – many parents are highly ambitious. But other things being equal, happiness signals success – possibly the ultimate evolutionary origin of why we value the happiness of our children as well as our own.
Of course the parental choice argument isn’t decisive. Not least, it’s unclear how many more generations of free reproductive choices lie ahead before radical anti-aging technologies force a progressively tighter collective control over our reproductive decisions – since a swelling population of ageless quasi-immortals can’t multiply indefinitely in finite physical space. But even if centralized control of reproductive decisions becomes the norm, and procreation itself becomes rare, the selection pressure against primitive Darwinian genotypes will presumably be intense. Thus it’s hard to envisage what future social formations would really allow the premeditated creation of any predisposition to depressive or anxiety disorders – or even the “normal” pathologies of unenhanced consciousness.
RENE GUENON, TRADITIONALIST, ALEXANDER DUGIN ON THE FOURTH POLITICAL POWER, BRANCO MALIC’S RESPONSE, POLITICS, AND VISIONARIES
“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”
― René Guénon
A Traditionalist an Perennialist
For many years, maybe 44 years to date, I have been aware of Rene, Jean, Marie, Joseph Guenon, also later known as Abd al –Wahid Yahya (al-Maliki, al-Hamidi ash-Shadhili ) a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, “sacred science” and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.
In 1921, Guénon published an Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines. His goal, as he writes it, is an attempt at presenting to westerners eastern metaphysics and spirituality as they are understood and thought by easterners themselves, while pointing at what René Guénon describes as all the erroneous interpretations and misunderstandings of western orientalism and “neospiritualism” (for the latter, notably the proponents of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophism). Right from that time, he presents a rigorous understanding, not only of Hindu doctrines, but also of eastern metaphysics in general. He managed to expose these doctrines to a western public viewed by him as quite unprepared and unreceptive as a whole. He departed from standard scholarship (orientalist) terminology and methods and preferred to expose the doctrines as a simple “easterner”, devoid of what he called “western prejudices”. For one of the most famous aspects of René Guénon’s work is the irreducible difference he describes between the East and the West. René Guénon defines eastern metaphysics and intellectualism as of “universal nature”, that “opens possibilities of conception which are truly beyond any limitation”.
His work comprises:
An exposition of fundamental metaphysical principles: Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines which contains the general definition of the term “tradition” as Guénon defines it, Man and His Becoming according to the Vedânta, The Symbolism of the Cross, The Multiple States of Being,The Metaphysical Principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus, Oriental Metaphysics.
Studies in symbolism (comprising many articles he wrote for the journal Le Voile d’Isis which became later known under the name Etudes Traditionnelles). These studies in symbolism were later compiled by Michel Valsan in the posthumous book Symbols of Sacred Science. The studies The Great Triad,Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles, Insights into Islamic Esoterism & Taoism and The King of the World (alternately translated as Lord of the World) are also mostly about symbolism.
Fundamental studies related to Initiation, a subject completely re-exposited by Guénon from the traditional perspective: Perspectives on Initiation, Initiation and Spiritual Realization, The Esoterism of Dante.
Criticism of the modern world and of “neospiritualism”: East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion, The Spiritist Fallacy and The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times, the latter book being often considered as his masterpiece as an explanation of the modern world from the traditional perspective.
Various studies in esoterism: Saint Bernard, Insights into Christian Esoterism, Studies in Freemasonry and Compagnonnage, Studies in Hinduism, &c.
Imagine my surprise of the likes of Alexander Dugin, the so named Putin’s Rasputin claiming ideas derived from Rene Guenon!
In all honesty I had read some time ago a little about Dugin, mainly on the Western media, not an unbiased source for news, and filtered through the lens of what it’s considered a politically, Liberal, and correct attitude, then the shock of recently reading a extract from his Fourth Political Theory book, and when he claims allegiance to the Traditionalist.
Dugin’s Fourth Political Power:
“Modernity and its ideological basis (individualism, liberal democracy, capitalism, consumerism, and so on) are the cause of the future catastrophe of humanity, and the global domination of the Western lifestyle is the reason for the final degradation of the Earth. The West is approaching its terminus, and we should not let it drag the rest of us down into the abyss with it.
Tradition (religion, hierarchy, and family) and its values were overthrown at the dawn of modernity. All three political theories were conceived as artificial ideological constructions by people who comprehended, in various ways, ‘the death of God’ (Nietzsche), the ‘disenchantment of the world’ (Weber), and the ‘end of the sacred.’ This was the core of the New Era of modernity: man came to replace God, philosophy and science replaced religion, and the rational, forceful, and technological constructs took the place of revelation.
When we use the term ‘modernization’, we mean progress, linear accumulation, and a certain continuous process. When we speak of ‘modernization’, we presuppose development, growth, and evolution. It is the same semantic system. Thus, when we speak of the ‘unconditionally positive achievements of modernization: we agree with a very important basic paradigm – we agree with the idea that ‘human society is developing, progressing, evolving, growing, and getting better and better: that is to say, we share a particular vision of historical optimism.
This historical optimism pertains to the three classical political ideologies (liberalism, Communism, and fascism). It is rooted in the scientific, societal, political, and social worldview in the humanities and natural sciences of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, when the ideas of progress, development, and growth were taken as axioms that could not be doubted. In other words, this entire set of axioms, as well as the whole historiography and predictive analytics of the Nineteenth century in the humanities and the natural sciences, were built upon the idea of progress.
The Socialist Herbert Spencer claimed that the development of human society that the development of human society was the next stage of evolution in the animal species, and that there was a connection, and a continuity between the animal world and social development.
And, therefore, all the laws of the animal world leading to the development, improvement, and evolution on the animal world, within Darwin’s framework, can be projected onto society, This is the basis of the famous theory, ‘Social Darwinism’, of which Spencer was a classic representative. If, according to Darwin, the driving force behind the evolution of the animal kingdom its the struggle for survival and natural selection, then the same process must take place in society, argued Spencer. And the more perfect the struggle is for survival (Inter-species, intrs-species, the struggle of the strong against the weak, the competition for resources, pleasure), the more perfect our society becomes, The question is how to aid this process of selection. According to Spencer, this is the theme of the liberal model, and is the meaning of social progress.
Therefore, if we are liberals, in one way or the other we inherited this ‘zoological’ approach to social development based on the struggle against the destruction of the weak by the strong.
Spencer’s theory contains an important point that must be elaborated upon. He argues that there are two phases of social development. The first phase occurs when the struggle for survival is conducted crudely, by force; this is characteristic of the ancient world. The second occurs when the struggle is carried out more subtly through economic means. Once the bourgeois revolution takes place, the struggle for survival doesn’t stop. According to Spencer, it acquires new, more advanced, and more efficient forms; it relocates into the sphere of the market. Here the strongest survive-that is the richest. Instead of the most powerful feudal lord, a hero, a strong person, or a leader, who simply sizes all that there is for grabs around his community, taking away what all that belongs to other nations and races and sharing it with the ruling ethnicity or cast, now come the capitalist, who bring the same aggressive principle to the market, the corporation, or the trading company. The transition from the order of power to the order of money, according to Spencer, does not mean the humanization of the process, but only underscores greater effectiveness. That is to say, the struggle in the market sphere between the strong (meaning the rich) and the weak (meaning the poor) becomes more efficient and leads to higher levels of development until super-rich, super-strong, and super developed countries emerge. Progress, according to Spencer, and, more broadly speaking, according to liberalism is always the growth of economic power, since this continues to refine the struggle for survival of the animal species, the warfare methods of strong nations, and the castes within the framework of pre-capitalistic states.
Thus, an animalistic form of aggression is embedded in the liberal idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions.
In such a system, the ‘more advanced’ law or the more advanced, ‘more modern’ methods of production do not mean that they are more humane; what it means that they allow more opportunities for the strong to more effectively realize their power, while the weak can only admit defeat, or, if they have any strength left, fight on. In this meaner, the modern idea of economic growth, as we see in liberals such as Alan Greenspan, and Ben Bernake, has its foundations and origins in the idea of the struggle between species, that is, the feral destruction of the weak by the strong, or the validation of the strong at the expense of the weak. Only instead of the conflict between predators and herbivores, we have the golden billion, and in that golden billion, their own ‘kings of beasts’ ( the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank bankers) who devour all that there is up for grabs and, at the same time, turn the forest of the World into ‘social infrastructures’.
Therefore, when we speak of ‘modernization’ into the liberal vein, of necesity we mean the enhancement of the social, political, cultural, spiritual, and informational scenario within which the absolute aggression of the strong against the weak can be implemented.
There is only one way out-to reject the classical political theories, both winners and losers, strain our imaginations, seize the reality of a new world, correctly decipher the challenges of post-modernity, and create something new-something beyond the political battles of Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. Such an approach is an invitation to the development of the Fourth Political Theory-beyond Communism, Fascism, and Liberalism.”
“Dugin charges that Liberalism in the end contributes to decline and does not achieve the progress it claims. “Communism and Fascism have collapsed,” Peter J. Leithart asserts, then he assigns the belief that “liberalism, the final twentieth-century ideology, turned into libertine postmodernism as soon as it triumphed,” to Dugin’s mindset. Dugin believes that “the idea of modernization is based on the idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions. Liberal discourse, meaning the analysis of the liberal ideologist, is a completely animal discourse.”
Branko Malic’s, Dugin’s questionable Traditionalism
“Alexander Dugin’s influence on Russian foreign policy is an object of speculation, mostly on the level of gossip. In the West he is often times dubbed new Rasputin, probably because mainstream opinion maker’s intelligence doesn’t seem to reach further of pattern recognition (clue: the beard). While it’s hard to believe that esteemed professor sees himself as “Russia’s greatest love machine”, it is impossible to overlook that some of the moves Russian foreign policy makes are fairly concordant to his opinions and affirm much of what he is saying. Diplomatic victory over the West during the first phase of Syria crisis cannot be denied, and it is hard to escape the fact that Reagan’s term “Evil empire” is coming dangerously close to denote the USA itself. However, there is a great danger in idealizing the Eurasian project spearheaded by Russian Federation. Uncritical glorification of the rising might of Russia, although understandable, shouldn’t lead to forgetting the famous saying about “enigma wrapped in secret”. In other words, Westerner must never forget that he doesn’t know and – as is implied in Dugin’s logic – maybe even cannot know, what goes on behind Putin’s stone face. Further, it is questionable how really can one reconcile militant Evolian mysticism with ascetic wisdom of Guenon, which Dugin apparently tries to do. It is a pity that West is more or less ignorant of Guenon’s consequent spiritual descendant, Hungarian Bela Hamvas, man far more experienced in enduring than exercising the violent force, but who nevertheless almost single handed kept the flame of Tradition alive for all Eastern Europe. What he and Guenon were able to do is to point the finger and say: this is Corruption. Nothing more, nothing less. And that in itself made them revolutionaries. Resistance of the sort Alexander Dugin advocates could prove no less immoral than the aggression of the West and in fact can hardly be reconciled with the religious attitude of Traditionalism.
We must conclude that Alexander Dugin is relevant thinker and his work is a point of reference for everybody who sees, or at least hears, something creeping in the bushes near his front door. Dugin says it clearly: in the plastic flowers of Globalization, there is a serpent hiding. But if we observe how he, as well as the European alternative right in general, splices the Traditionalism and realpolitik, the unavoidable question arises: do you really cure the viper’s bite with another batch of poison? No doubt, ever more people are becoming aware that history of 20th century was not what they were told it was. The values of the West more and more prove to be a threat not only to political, economical and biological, but also the very logical foundation of human being as such. Nihilism is all out of masks. However, to align with thinkers like Alexander Dugin solely because they see the shortcomings of the West so clearly is very unreasonable. For although his cards are not marked, don’t be so sure you know what card game he is really playing.”
My View of the Matter
I can’t deny to agree with the above words expressed by Dugin, but I would be the first to recognize at my lack of knowledge about Dugin’s political intentions, and his dealings with Putin, and as to what extent Putin himself take Dugin’s advise in his political dealings, or it’s just a ‘spiritual’ ideological adviser of a philosophical nature, rather than a de facto policy maker? Do not know, it’s said he doesn’t even hold a job at the Kremlin, journalist Alexander Nevzorov: “if we had had Sergey Kurginyan and Dugin instead of Putin, there would have been hell for all of us to pay, they would have unleashed a European and World War without a shadow of a doubt, without considering consequences at all.” But “Dugin and Kurginyan do not have the slightest impact on what is going on in the Kremlin and do not even get coaching there”.
My only interest on him, it’s in relation to Rene Guenon’s Traditionalist ideas. And in all this I suspect a little of an idealism, on his part, based on isolated, and disconnected readings on Guenon’s books, than a serious, more direct relationship, with Guenon’s school of Traditionalist heirs.
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers concerned with what they considered to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Bela Hamvas, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Julius Evola and William Chittick. A central belief of this school is the existence of a perennial wisdom, or perennial philosophy, which says that there are primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by all the major world religions.
A group of mainly Western idealists, mystics, religious scholars, seeking the Wisdom of the East, known only to the few who care what they have to say, certainly a small minority, who also have ideological detractors, but hardly a nest for political activism, upheaval, and controversial ideas regarding a ‘New World Order’. Now thrown into the searchlights, by Dugin’s pronouncements. And consequently my surprise of Dugin’s allegiance to the Traditionalist or Perennial school, despite my sympathy for the ideas he express above, and by my long acquaintance with the Traditionalist writings who seem to have little in common with Dugin’s public persona, by their disregard for the limelight of politics. However we know ideas move mountains, and that a seed on fertile soil, under the right conditions grows, as for what kind of seed may be, only the future will tell.
“The conclusion is that the whole of those laws
of nature which have been woven into a
unified scheme – mechanics, gravitation, electrodynamics and optics – have their origin,
not in any special mechanism of nature,
but in the workings of the mind”
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
We all have noticed that time drags when we want to get over with something, like getting home after a long commute, or getting out from work after a long day of dealing with difficult things, but also the reverse it’s true, the more busy you are the faster time seems to go by, I remember a particular job I did for three years, were my job was to take call, after call, as a customer service representative, not an easy job, but that I got to like it, because as I got used to, most of the times someone would come to me and tap me on the shoulder, to call my attention, and said, it’s time to go. And it seem to me that I had only been there three, or four hours, rather than eight!
Over a century ago, Albert Einstein postulated that a given time interval is registered differently by independent (moving) clocks. Interestingly, Einstein himself recognized the similarity between the relativity of physical and psychological time: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.” Einstein was literally talking about different temporal contexts providing different read-outs for the same physical interval. While relative time became the de-facto view in physics, the relativity of psychological time is still a matter for debate. For example, neuron-biological evidence suggests indeed that major time scales (millisecond, second-to-minutes, and circadian) are processes by different regions of the brain (e.g., cortex, cerebellum, striatum, and suprachiasmatic nucleus), it is still unclear whether everyday timing in the seconds-to-minutes range is performed by a single or rather multiple parallel mechanisms in the brain.
Real or absolute time does not exist – only local time(is), different for each observer.
Short list of types of temporal illusions:
Telescoping effect: People tend to recall recent events as occurring further back in time than they actually did (backward telescoping) and distant events as occurring more recently than they actually did (forward telescoping).
Vierordt’s law: Shorter intervals tend to be overestimated while longer intervals tend to be underestimated
Time intervals associated with more changes may be perceived as longer than intervals with fewer changes
Perceived temporal length of a given task may shorten with greater motivation
Perceived temporal length of a given task may stretch when broken up or interrupted
Auditory stimuli may appear to last longer than visual stimuli
Time duration may appear longer with greater stimulus intensity (e.g., auditory loudness or pitch)
Simultaneity judgments can be manipulated by repeated exposure to non-simultaneous stimuli
Time as Unreal
In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: “Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).”Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.
J. M. E. McTaggarts 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea (see also The flow of time).
These arguments often center around what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space, though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called ‘platonia’ by Barbour.
A modern philosophical theory called presentism views the past and the future as human-mind interpretations of movement instead of real parts of time (or “dimensions”) which coexist with the present. This theory rejects the existence of all direct interaction with the past or the future, holding only the present as tangible. This is one of the philosophical arguments against time travel. This contrasts with eternalism (all time: present, past and future, is real) and the growing block theory (the present and the past are real, but the future is not).
Our story: The Longest Night Of My life
There is a lot to talk about time, but this would have to be a book, and it’s just a post, so here it is my personal perception, and experience of how time can stretch to great lengths, it was many years ago, somewhere in December of 1973 just before Christmas and close to the Winter Solstice when nights are long, a friend of mine invited me to go and listen to a conference to a town 60 miles away from us, the conference would start at 8:30 PM and we would be living somewhere before 7:00 PM to arrive with plenty of time to find the place.
Having to teach a Yoga class at 6:AM the next day, decided to take a little nap somewhere at 4:00 PM that evening before leaving, expecting a long night ahead of us, but to be back before midnight. Woke up from my nap at 5:00 PM and headed to the Yoga studio where we would meet to leave, at that time it was one of the shortest days of the year and I remember it was almost dark, and by the time that I arrived to the studio, 40 minutes after it was totally dark, and not only that, it started to rain, shortly as I left my home, very likely now day, I would had apologize to my friend and cancel the trip, but been young and excited about the conference the four of us we left as planed somewhere around 6:30 PM.
Half way down the way, with the rain some rocks had landslide in to the road, being dark and rainy my friend hit one of the rocks and had a flat tire, and broke the ring of the wheel. It took us quite a while in the dark, and with the danger of other cars hitting us from behind to change the wheel. Needless to say by the time we could mount the spare tire we better should had turn the car around and go back home, but instead my friend the driver over optimistic we fought traffic and the rain in the city, and once when we finally got to the conference, we were able to listen the answer to the last question the speaker had, somewhere a little after 10:00 PM.
My friend worried about not having a spare tire on our way back, he went looking with some of his relatives who lived in that town, for a spare tire, to begin with, the relatives lived at quite some distance, and that also took some time, and he not only pick up the tire but he talked to the relatives for an hour or so, finally we left back to our town and we arrived maybe at 2:00 AM, but of course they couldn’t drop me right away, they were hungry and wanted diner!
So we looked for a 24 hour place to eat, and needless to say it was way past the time estimated we would be back by midnight, somewhere around 3:30 AM when they drop me home, went to bed immediately just after setting the alarm for 5:00 AM, after a brief sleep the alarm went off, and dressing up I went in to the wet, and muddy streets, rain was still pouring, and what strike me right at that moment as I walked to the class, through the poor lighted streets avoiding mud, and big pools of water, under the rain, how it was still dark, and despite traveling to a different town, and back, doing all the things we did, here I was walking the same path I did earlier a few hours before in darkness to meet my friends at the studio, but the night wasn’t over yet..!
No doubt the night wasn’t longer than any other night around that time of the year, but so much events were sandwiched in between, including walking twice to the Yoga studio in darkness during the same cold, rainy night, that it stuck in my memory, neither was the toughest night of my life, as I have memories of hell, like spending the night on a train trip on the mountains in a freezing night without proper clothing, and no heating in the car compartment, this just been only the prelude of many subsequent nights on that trip, sleeping on cement floors, on top of cardboard, and the flimsiest of a sleeping bag, separating my body from the cement floor, on subfreezing weather for a whole month. And many other nights when I used to work night shift, or whatever many other occurrences through a life’s long journey.
Time perception is relative, maybe because so much was sandwiched in between, went on that night, and we wasted the night away without achieving anything of purpose, since waking up from my early nap in semidarkness, and not seeing the light of day after finishing the teaching of the class in the early morning. It stayed in my memory as a very long night, it was the longest night I remember maybe because it just stuck on my mind, to be that way. I am sure for all of us there have being similar occurrences, when time seem to stretch for ever, or at least an unusual length, for no other reason that we perceive it that way.
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH CINEMA, FROM TEN SECONDS TO HELL, HURRICANES, AND THINGS TO COME, CINEMA PARADISO, AN EDUCATION, AND DISILLUSIONMENT
“For me, film making combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theater and music come together. But a film is still a film.”