I wonder what life’s “end” is…
Is technology teleological in nature?
I wonder what life’s “end” is…
I wonder what life’s “end” is…
Is technology teleological in nature?
Train the mind to train the body.
The act of reading is often seen as an activity of acquisition, of acquiring knowledge or information or whatever meaning reveals itself through text.
This is not correct.
Reading is not an activity of “filling up”.
Reading is a process of change. Reading is the process of being transformed.
When you read, you become.
It matters less the contents you collect on this journey. Whether the exact facts stick with you matters less than the impressions they leave you with, and mold you to be.
Reading changes you. It changes your mind, the way you think, the way you process the experiential world. A book of any kind imports a narrative structure for filtering and perceiving the world. It literally molds the internal precepts which govern experience, by imposing a narrative, by infusing the psychic framework with new or updated assumptions, connected and associated with existing assumptions, acting as nodes in the artifice that regulates being, complete with constellations of unconscious beliefs, programmed into our being to allow us to adapt to present experience, and make sense of the world.
Reading is not collecting.
Reading is becoming.
Reading should change you. Change your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your perception.
Every book should change the way you look at the world.
Collecting information is not why reading is powerful and valuable. Powerful in that you can alter the contents of your being, and leverage different perceptions and modes of thinking to alter outcomes that align with desires, goals, ideals.
We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
—Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
When you’re evaluating a measurement device for an application, the first rule of thumb is that the device’s accuracy must be 10x better than your maximum tolerance (tolerance being the total allowable error). So if your target accuracy is +- 50µm (100µm), your measurement device should have an accuracy of 10µm or better.
Two terms commonly used interchangeable are accuracy and precision. This image illustrates the difference:
Accuracy is the ability to measure true values. It is a function of a devices resolution, linearity error, and temperature error.
Precision (also used interchangeably with repeatability) is the ability to perform consistent measurements. You can use offset’s to achieve accuracy if the device is highly repeatable.
To calculate a devices accuracy, there are three specifications to first consider:
% of F.S. (full scale) refers to the entire measurement range of the device. If a device has a +-5mm measurement range, it’s full scale is 10mm. The Linearity or Temperature error is a function of the range that’s being measured.
This is an example of the linearity effect demonstrated on a micrometer:
To calculate accuracy, you will add the following:
Resolution + Linearity error + Temperature error = Accuracy
If a measurement device application has the following specifications:
Measurement Range: +-5mm (10mm)
Resolution: 10 micron
Linearity: 0.1 % F.S.
Temperature characteristics: 0.01 % F.S./ᵒC
Ambient Operating Temperature Range: 20ᵒC to 30ᵒC (10ᵒC variation)
You can calculate accuracy:
(10µm resolution) + (0.001 linearity error * 10mm measurement range) + (0.0001 temperature characteristics * 10mm measurement range * 10ᵒC variation)=
10 µm + 0.01 µm + 0.01 µm = 10.02 µm
The final common consideration to calculate the controls system accuracy is your analog signal noise. If you’re sending measurement data digitally via serial or TCP, there won’t be any analog signal noise, but your controls response time will be slower since the signal is converted digitally before its sent out.
The fastest way to capture measurement data is analog signals: Voltage (-10 to 10V, 0 to 5V, 1 to 5V) or Current (4 to 20mA) outputs. The longer your cable from the device to your controller, the more electrical noise you introduce. The shorter the cable, the less noise.
Calculating this noise error ratio is beyond my expertise, but I do know that Current output is the preferred analog signal for eliminating noise error. However, I believe Current is also a slower response time, since the sensor voltage signal is converted to current in the device, sent to the controller, and converted back into voltage to be processed.
Most of these response time delays will be minimal, and for most applications, not worth the consideration.
I hope this was helpful!
My soul weeps. The hallow interior echos. White paint flakes on the window sill. I pick nervously and press my nose against the cool window. My small breath clouds the panes. Dark leafy vegetation sprouts beneath. Rain drops fall like meteors. The leaves tremor with every splash. My eyes beam cross the thick lawn, deep into the penetrating forest. Waiting.
I turn and slide down the wall. My laces are in knots. The raw wood floor is bare and nicked all over, with dust and lint hiding in the crevices.
Floral designs repeat on the wavering paper walls, peeling at the edges. I fixate on an vertical schism, observing a mismatch in patterns. Flowering buds split and bulge and warp because of some careless application of wall paper.
My thumb massages the warm buckeye, while pointer fingers the hole in my pocket.
“Welcome to flight 6749 to San Francisco. Please buckle you seatbelt as we’re preparing to taxi for takeoff. “
“We apologize for the mechanical delays. We’ll make sure to make up for the lost time in the air.”
I cock my head. And obese Native American man with enlarged earlobes and long hair stares out the small window. Various native jewelry ornament his neck and wrists.
I close my eyes and breath a sigh.
A howling screech and large crash wakes me. I sit up, with my headphones still playing Ludovico Einaudi. There is visible panic throughout the cabin. I can’t make out what the pilots announcing on the intercom, but I somehow don’t seem to mind. Agitation ripples through the rows. A bright light flashes from the right side of the plane, and I close my eyes. There is a roll, and a sudden feeling of weightlessness. The cabin lights are on, but my eyes are still closed, still being serenaded by the piano music.
I was thrown violently back and forth, as if caught in the jaws of a vicious animal, flailing in every direction.
Blackness lead to silence and then coldness, and finally wetness. I could hear a crackling echo above and all around me, but I didn’t move. I wanted to dream.
I pressed up off the icy ground and found myself in a dark forest, which looked like it had been shredded with a wood chipper. Glints of flickering light cast shadows all around me. I walked to the fuselage, stepping over soft dark masses blotting the snow. Perhaps soil, perhaps clothing, perhaps something darker. As my eyes peaked around the fuselage, I saw the inside, with the top cleaved off like a sardine can, and rows of bodies strapped to their seats. There was no movement among the twisted wreckage. Lifeless limp bodies. Only a handful of small fires burned. There was a noxious scent of fumes in the air.
There was no moon, and the full brunt of Arctic like temperatures began to seize my body.
I climbed to the top a wing laying against a thicket of felled trees to see above the tops of the tree line. Snow capped mountains extended in endless receding rows as far as my eyes could see.
I am all alone.
“Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone.” —Emil Cioran
It’s a little after 11am on a workday, and I’m seated on my leather couch with the familiar tension that regularly pulls at my insides. Beyond the computer screen perched on my legs lies the San Francisco city scape outside my broad windows. A pearly heather sky, lifeless and cold, outlines the pale glass skyscrapers outside, while the capitol’s gilded steeple peaks from behind in the distance.
The daily habit of writing has yet again eluded my attention, further compounding my internal grief that my routines are not molding my character into the being I idealize in my reflective moments.
What has life been recently?
I traveled to Denmark with my girlfriend for about 11 days, visiting London and Sweden briefly in between, exploring the city during the day, and watching her perform at the Royal Danish Ballet opening night. The trip itself was fine, less the raging cold I acquired in the final days, and the tumultuous arguing that seemed to persist for some reason or another between my girlfriend and I, though I can rarely explain why these conflicts occur, other than some chemical aggravation between our constitutions, betwixt with repressed trauma which resurfaces due to some unknown event when our personalities collide.
Other than that, work, as per usual, has consumed my focus. But upon my return, a general listlessness found its way into me, and the enthusiasm to devote my being to the pursuit of business success eluded my general desire to get back on track.
And so I surrendered to these feelings, and retreated into my books, and have been reading at a steady clip since my return on November 3rd.
My general attitude is one of existential confusion and self-loathing: what will I amount to? Have I amounted to anything that I find respectable? Depending on my magnanimity of the day, I teeter between feeling blessed and being totally disappointed.
Who I am? What is my value? Have I arrived? Is this the path that I was destined to be on? Or is this path still unfolding in ways that escape my imagination?
As it is now, I find my overall circumstances contemptible. I’ve become the thing I’ve loathed most: a corporate automaton, a slave to money, debt ridden, generally anxious, physically exhausted most days.
The only hobbies which seem to provide a glimmer of inspiration to the monotonous routine of life– a routine which I have often aspired for, to place me on stable footing, necessary for the organization of self– are reading my books, which continually pile up beyond the book cases and window sills in stacks of every corner of the room.
Like an impoverished hoarder, I carry at least three books with me wherever I go, just in case my interest in one book peaks over another, and I have the option of capturing that wonder and connecting the dots to some unrealized epiphany, which may strike and reverberate in my depths as some divine insight, only to be cherished by the company of myself.
And so this is what grieves me about my lackadaisical and undisciplined writing efforts.
I have not created anything worthwhile in my life. Accomplishments seems so transitory, and the only creations I feel worthwhile are the enduring works of ideas, translated in writing or similar forms of expression.
But I am a horribly undisciplined writer. Much less anything else. The ability to work from home and mind my own schedule, without the micromanagement of superiors, is the only grace which shrouds the reality of my undisciplined mind from others, which resembles a scattered mania.
Focus in the general sense, in the conventional sense, in the sense that can be called upon at will for any important matter or task worth the attention, is not something I possess. Not whatsoever.
Hyper-focus is what I possess, for better or worse, though I believe it’s for worse. What differentiates these two types of mental exactitudes is the the ability that I can control them.
Focus is an ability, for sure. An important task requires attention, perhaps prolonged attention, and the executive functions of the mind tune in and perform the necessary steps until completion.
Hyper-focus, on the other hand, is something that appears beyond my control, a reflex to internal or external stimulation, a response to something that captures and enrapts my imagination, so that I’m left helplessly consumed, with the total resources of my being devoted to indulging this wonder. It’s the highest form of pleasure, an almost spiritual submersion, recruiting the whole of my faculties to the object of my attention, at the expense of everything beyond this narrow beam of energy. Friends and girlfriends alike feel sidelined and excluded from these preoccupations, which they are, save the rote performances I’ve developed to stave off their claims of my neglect.
I can hyperfocus. It’s a gift, and a curse.
Where it’s a curse is the discontinuity which it produces. I am either in, or I’m out. My mind resonates completely with harmony, or it exists as a discordant confusion of randomized attention, resulting in a feeling of drowning helplessness.
If I could leverage the ability to focus at will with the concentration of hyperfocus on whatever task I chose, my life would possess much more discipline.
Historically, I’ve relied on external measures to produce a structure to frame habits conducive to generating hyper-focus at will, the only focus I seem to have at my disposal. Such measures include obligations to others, which produce an accountability that my self-reputation feverishly upholds, stimulants, such as caffeine or amphetamines, and a general schedule. The latter only seems to work, however, if there are others involved. Self-disciplined schedules work if other’s are apart of these plans, or if there is absolutely no one else I need to be accountable to. Anything in between doesn’t seem to be effective.
All that’s to say, I do not believe it’s beyond my ability to develop habits. The germinating desire for disciplined routine is there, but anchoring it requires some time of action which I can make a repetitive part of my daily life.
I must write more often.
I find myself reflecting all the time, lost in the images lifted from the narratives of my books on philosophy or history and the like. They fill my mind, and I want to expunge them, and I tell myself “I will write as soon as I wake” or “I will write these thoughts out tonight”, and later I find myself staring at my journal and laptop, asking myself where I should even start such as task. “What do I want to say?” Anything!
I have these dreams of writing long formed essays, dreams of constructing thoughtful analysis on the books I’m reading. This, I tell myself, will clarify the contents of my knowledge, and anchor it deep within my soul. Why read to pass time? I am not reading to escape (or perhaps I am), I am not reading to forget, I am reading to remember, so what does it take to remember?
Reflecting or ruminating (to chew) on the contents is the first step. Perhaps discourse with other minds is the next step, talking out ideas, trying to articulate the logic of concepts and themes. The ultimate demonstration of knowledge is the ability to write it out, which encodes a syntactical logic to the order in which the knowledge is built upon. Drawing diagrams is perhaps an intermediate step in understanding, and perhaps the most abstract effort to connect the ideas into a cohesive comprehensive whole.
I must write, however. I must summarize and synthesize what I know, and what I’m reading.
And I must not censor myself, my thoughts. They must pour from me authentically, without self degradation of their merit or value. It’s an exercise, I must remember, an exercise of discipline, an exercise of production.
I should decide to write for someone, other than myself. This audience should be able to understand my writing in a way that is relatable and understandable. Writing for myself, as if I’m the only one who needs to understand it, seems a bit lunacy, in the same way talking to myself does.
Journaling is certainly not meant for anyone else but myself, but if it’s not legible, if its not comprehensible, relatable, readable, what use is it? Am I developing my skills in communication? Are my ideas any more clear, any more real?
There is no personal knowledge. This is something I am certain of.
There are instincts and intuitions, but knowledge is a social byproduct, an agreement about the world and the contents of the world, the structure of the world. It needs to be corroborated, and equally understood by the audience you’re addressing. Otherwise it’s baseless, and possesses no utility, no value, except perhaps as artistic expression, which may or may not be universally appreciated, and only resembles frustrated physic energies.
I’m reading a few books. I have many books piled up everywhere. My girlfriend has gracefully resigned herself to refrain from commenting on this eclectic quirk of mine as more and more books find their way into our home. It’s who I am, and even if I could help it, I wouldn’t want to. I’m sure there’s a limit to the number of books I should own, until it resembles some comic hoarders den, and we are crushed by toppling towers of books. But I haven’t found that limit, and I’d rather not entertain what it might be.
So, what should I write? I should pick a topic, a subject, or something worth extrapolating on. Should I write a book summary? Should I write an analysis? Perhaps a synthesis of ideas? Or perhaps I just write whatever flows from my fingers, and capture whatever breath of thought exhales onto the pages?
Distractions are the devil. If purity of thought, if concentration of mind, produces the light which illuminates the world, and produces order out of the chaos of problems and challenges inhibiting the realization of every ideal, desire, goal, or aim, than any impetus that would draw away from that concentration is bad, and to the extent it seduces us away from these ideals, evil.
The world is filled with distractions masquerading as worthwhile knowledge or wisdom. I’m grateful in some respect to the exposure this has produced in my conception of a broad world, but the bite sized messages lack a cohesive quality, and it’s overly fragmented. There are many feeds feigning for attention, many gurus, many media outlets insisting on the attention of an important news highlight in some realm, be it politics, technology, environment, business and the like.
The information and knowledge and wisdom comes in waves, crashing at the windows of awareness, only to recede into the ocean of noise until another wave crashes. This perpetual cycle of media feed, the consumption of endless bits and bytes of information, apparently relevant to some aspect of my existence, continues endlessly. We’ve had these media feeds for well over a decade in their modern form as social media, where opting into the onslaught of information is tacit. Previously, we could selectively choose the content and quantity of our media, schedule time for the news and gossip. Now, it’s all pervasive, at our fingertips, intruding wherever we go.
And attention, focus, concentration, and the purity of thought produced by this vigilant vision, is compromised, and reduced to a schizophrenic mania.
What are we connected to? To whom are we connected?
I’m reading Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. I’m about eight chapters in. I’m not sure I completely agree with his historical analysis of the sociological development of nationality, although the mechanisms of development seem intuitively correct.
I’m also reading The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. This books reminds me of Simple Lies, Vital Truths by Daniel Golemen, which outlines the psychological mechanisms of self-deception.
I’m also reading Self and Others by N. GRegory Mailton, M.D., which propounds on the psychoanalytic discipline of Object Relations Theory, which appears to draw quite a bit of inspiration from John Bowlby’s work on Attachment Theory.
In addition, I’m finishing up a primer on German history, titled The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes. It’s a quite unsatisfactory overview of central European history, but it’s written fairly well, and provides a basic frame of reference to my otherwise complete void of German history knowledge.
I purchased The Last Lion by William Manchester, which is probably the most complete biography of William Churchill ever written. It’s a voluminous three book set. In an effort to quicken the read, I’ve also purchased the audible versions, with each book coming it at over 40 hours of listening.
I’m half way through The Art of Memory by Frances Yates, and a quarter of the way through Logic and the Art of Memory by Paolo Rossi, both excellent historical accounts on the subject of memory.
It’s 12:21pm, and I’ve done less than an hour of work since I woke at 6:30pm. I should probably begin my work day, which means sending out emails, phoning customers, arranging meetings, and the like. I have a phone meeting with my manager at 1pm, so I should prepare for that as well.
I’ll be heading to Florida to visit my family on a 11pm red-eye on Wednesday night to spend Thanksgiving with them, and return at 11am Monday morning.
I signed up for a half marathon in Zion National Park on February 29th three weeks ago, and I’ve only run four or five days in preparation. I’m not at all prepared to run 13.1 miles, but I am committed to running the race, so I should definitely begin training immediately, without excuse. And I may be running a Thanksgiving 5k, which my family may or may not have signed me up for.
My girlfriend will be working and rehearsing during Thanksgiving, so she won’t be coming with me. My sister had my nephew a couple weeks ago, and my grandparents will be moving back to New Jersey from Naples in the new year, so it’s family time that will be well spent.
I promise I will write more.
Is it okay not to be okay?
I grew up thinking life was some status stream that I gradually got permission to begin swimming in.
That somewhere, out there, the doors of adulthood were waiting to be opened, and I could soon participate in this theater of life.
Meanwhile this stream of life, this world stage filled with adults acting their parts, that I anxiously idealized has never materialized.
I’m not sure what dreams or whose dreams I’ve internalized, but they don’t appear to map onto the the world.
There’s this social reality that envelops the whole of my experience, as if it paints the canopy at the farthest reaches of my awareness, giving life an insular feeling of familiarity. There are in fact many of these social realities, depending on where I cast my attention, which preoccupation or niche fills interest.
This social reality is defined by all these narratives. Call them bubbles. Social bubbles, of different size and quality.
There’s a history to these bubbles. Political and professional. And a progressive evolution that almost escapes the eye.
The ideas permeate these social realities and percolate throughout the narratives, destroying and marginalizing some, synthesizing others into a unified bubble.
All the while things change.
My personal reality, derived from these bubbles, is constantly refreshing, or should be.
Often it doesn’t. Often these bubbles remain static, like stained glass, frozen in beautiful color, trapped in time.
Survival. What does it mean to survive?
Paying bills, having babies, creating something. Maybe the world rewards you for this, maybe it doesn’t.
I wake up and I wonder what history will say about these moments, these years. How much will be retained and recast in the future narrative of the world and it’s victors, it’s champions, and how much will be forgotten? And how many times we will have to repeat history before we learn from our errors in judgement. Is there progress? Or there there an eternal return? A repeating cycle? Or is this the zenith of progress?
Are we at a turning point in history?
Are our dreams OUR dreams? Or were they peddled to us? How much of myself do I own? How much did my family raise me, and how much did my culture raise me? And how much independent liberty did I take to raise myself?
Is this the zenith of living?
Are we here?
Is this the stuff dreams are made of?
I wonder if there’s a social reality that ever satisfies humanity.
But I think there is. It’s one with purpose. And I believe it’s social purpose, something beyond ourselves.
God? Nation? The enemies abroad? Is it spiritual development?
Some cause, some unifying purpose.
I feel we are a culture without a cause.
Or causes that are bankrupt. Material causes and purposes seem empty.
What to die for? What is worth dying for? Do we as a culture believe in anything worth dying for? Relativism.
History… there’s an arch, a subtle trajectory to the fate of nations. I wonder where we’re at on the arc.
Currently reading Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson. Five chapters in. Phenomenally insightful book. Anderson’s analysis is both scholarly and creative. He possesses a profound sense of history, and is able to weave and synthesize complex ideas and patterns almost effortlessly. It’s a genuinely exciting read. One that wants to keep you reading.
Have you read the book The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion by Peter Berger?
I couldn’t help but feel the same when I read that book. Like a veil has been lifted. There are some books that seem to describe phenomena so intuitively that they seem to reveal profound insights about the world, insights which you possess but never had the tools to express.
Because religion plays such a central role in Arnold’s analysis, I’d recommend reading Berger, if you haven’t already.
I’ve read some of Durkiem and Weber. But for some reason the ideas and concepts of their work resonated more than the narratives that they wrote. Same for Marx and Bourdieu. Perhaps too technical or dry. Or perhaps I just need to work on my reading stamina.
But there are a few sociologists who’s writing immediately resonates: Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, Thorstein Veblen and Georg Simmel.
I don’t have a background in sociology, so I feel like I don’t have the holistic framework for evaluating the merits of a works contribution to the subject.
When I read Anderson’s book, I feel like it’s nested within a theme of ideas.
Wittgenstein seems to provide the most meta description of community development, through his pragmatic analysis of linguistics.
Berger and Luckmanns book The Social Construction of Reality seems to take this analysis and apply it to the sociological world, and illustrate how the process of linguistic cooperation creates shares realities, ie mutual cosmologies.
Berger’s book The Sacred Canopy applies this analysis to Religion, or at least uses religion as the archetype for prototypical community formation.
Mercea Eliade’s book The Sacred and The Profane provides anthropological insights into the limits or boundaries of religious experience, which I feel illuminates the mechanism for religion’s world building effects.
And now, Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities is giving a framework for secular community or institutional development, cosmological implications. It’s really enlightening. Especially his analysis of religion/divinity and state, and the mechanisms of divergence of the two, which gave rise to a notion of nationalism for the first time, a cosmological identity which is secular.
I’m still reading, and there’s a lot I find myself going back to, but it’s just a fascinating historical journey…
Individual identity. Communities. National identity.
I also can’t help but think of Mark Granovetter’s work on “The strength of weak ties” and embeddedness, which coincides with Georg Simmel’s ideas on social geometry.
Pleitropy is an interesting concept: How a single gene/mutation has distributed effects in the organism.
Difficult to conceive of the complexity of evolution that would ensure organism fitness through single mutations.
Illustrates how single genes are responsible for networks of functioning. Isolating a single gene function presents difficulties.
Genes operate within a symphony of interdependent networks.
Changes in genes impact not only the distributed network of processes it expresses, but concurrent networks within the organism, which in turn effect the functioning of that genes effects.
Genes are embodied.
You can imagine the parallels to embodied cognition, and the concurrent distributed network of cognitive processes that give rise to emergent conscious phenomena.
I think a central takeaway of embodied cognition is that the phenomenal “self” can be reduced to ego. And ego is an adaptive survival mechanism. But self/ego doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a reflexive process that accumulates through habituation, habits which we identify as self .
Cognitive theories struggle to account for the mechanism of sentience because they haven’t accounted for the mechanism of ego, the very mechanism which allows the cognition to adapt to novelty and change and persist, which follows a path dependency because of habituated cognitive processes.
Reflexive in the sense that the organism and world are not separate entities, but interdependent, working on each other. When the organism changes, the life world changes, when the life world changes, the organism changes. The external world is not pregiven, and cannot be represented as an accurate ideal of what is, because the organism essentially defines the world.
This, along with the fact that the reflexive relationship between the organism and world is actually comprised by not one “conscious process”, but regulated by distributed layers of concurrent networks possessing this reflexive embodied relationship with the life world.
You can conceive of these networks as individual communities of builders or societies of agents working amongst themselves and/or with other communities of builders. It is an ecology or economy of builders. They do not exist independently, but they do not exist as one whole.
The process of developing cognitive structures is as fundamental as the cognitive structures themselves, because there is an inter-action among them and with the life world of lived experience as they develop and evolve.
I had an interesting experience while doing some meditation today.
Typically meditation is just an observance of thoughts. Surveying the percolating mental contents that arise moment to moment, coupled with reflection to identify the source of these thoughts. But mostly just letting thoughts and feelings wash over and through me, and opening myself to the moment. Relaxing. Releasing physical and mental tension.
However, I’ve been giving a lot more thought to the phenomenal conscious experience, inspired by recent readings.
I was closing my eyes, aware of my breathing tempo, and observing my thoughts. But I became acutely aware of my sensations.
Not just their existence, but their source.
This conscious experience is permeated with sensational qualities. The five senses color every thought, imbuing conscious experience with this texture that I take for granted. These senses are atomized as “pre given”. They just appear.
But I began to reflect on their source.
My eyes are closed, and yet permeating my conscious awareness are sensations. They just are. In. On. Throughout. They almost sneak into the periphery. But then you go there, and they are not. They are no where.
Where is the source of sound? Not outside me, but in me? Where is the source of touch? Where does it begin to appear in my conscious awareness? Is there an edge I can peel up and look behind?
And so I sat there, and began a process of identifying these sensations, and observing their source. Or at least, attempting to.
This process of mindful observation resulted in a streaming recession of awareness. Not sleep. But into this bleeding edge of consciousness, where all my senses began to strip away, and almost unplug, which created a certain timelessness.
I kept reeling back and forth between this state, trying to stay “aware” or “conscious” while turning my reflective gaze back into this source, but each time I’d be flung into this event horizon.
I realized this is an interesting meditative exercise: observing the source.
If for no other reason than it facilitated this mind bending effect
The ideological cosmology of religion is a powerful tool for transcending differences and creating a meta unity.
I suspect, on some level, differences in ideology are really differences in what is defined as sacred and profane. They demarcate the boundaries of experience, of what is to be explored, and what is to be forbidden. A population of groups with conflicting definitions threatens cosmological disintegration, which results in massive fear and violent reaction.
I’ve been reading about European history recently, and specifically the history of the North Sea, and consequently the origins of Great Britain starting with the invasion of the Romans in 43AD.
Civilization in general has been a fascination, and trying to understand how and why western civilization, beginning with the Babylonians, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, and Romans, managed to continually enlarge their reach in ways that no other civilization had done before.
I’ve always had intuitions about the power of religion and the unique role of written language as a vehicle for absorbing tribes and communities into these nation states. When I first learned that the word religion means “to bind together again”, it stuck with me as being having a peculiar role in the formation of institutions, which in turn assimilate populations into an order and structure that serves as an identity.
And I’ve always suspected the fall of the Roman Empire was somehow linked to the decline of their religion. There’s a curious coincidence of secularism, and the fall of the Roman Empire.
What struck about the history of Britain was how conflicted this island had been from the arrival of the Romans, to about 1200AD. Invasions, immigrations, multi ethnic communities populating such a small island, and the enduring violence and bloodshed during that time is astounding.
There was a single central figure, however, King Alfred, who was the catalyst that seemed to rectify this disunity, and create a national identity.
What was most intriguing, was that King Alfred had visited Rome before he became king, and was fully christianized. Apart of this devotion was his potent emphasis on writing and recording history. He was a man of letters, and during his reign, he quite literally began to write the Historical narrative of Britain, which was inseparable from his mission to Christianize the country into a United whole, beginning with his Angle Saxon Chronicle.
Up until then, none of the other tribes had a written language with which to preserve their pagan religion. Some had primitive runes, but there was no literacy.
King Alfred not only introduced Christianity, but he used literacy as a means of recording the historical identity of Britain through his religious vision.
When you look at other countries at the time, such a Denmark, they have no written history. European History began with religion, began with the preservation of sacral text, of symbolism and rituals and rites contained therein. Prior to the introduction of literacy, history is merely an inquisition of piecing archeological fragments together. The narrative is applied retroactively.
Religion is cosmology, and cosmology is identity. Preserving this requires the introduction of a standardized common history which possesses continuity, a living memory.
Buildings and art are as much an expression of this cosmology as text, but text contains the logic that transcends the boundaries of immediate community.
The intellectual is, quite simply, a human being who has a pencil in his or her hand when reading a book.
I’m reading the book The Art of Memory by Frances Yates.
Memory is something we don’t think much about in contemporary society, but historically it was of paramount importance.
Artificial memory, or utilizing images within the mind’s spatiotemporal framework, was foundational for the development of civilization, and I dare say consciousness.
What’s interesting, is that buildings were constructed as a direct reflection of memory palaces, specifically temples and institutional buildings.
There was a methodological framework for constructing a good memory palace, which included proper dimensions, and “notae” or markers which signify loci for referencing memories, as well as the “imagines agentes” or striking symbolic images that represent “things” or “words”.
The pre-Socratics knew of these memory methods, but historians believe that these were derived from Egyptian formulations, but they were formalized by the Greeks and later the Romans, and revitalized in the Medieval period by the scholastics followed by the renaissance thinkers, but the disciplines of artificial memory methods seem to disappear soon thereafter, likely due to the advent of the printing press and the proliferation of text.
When architects of past built cathedrals or temples or government buildings, they deliberately constructed them as a reflection of an internal memory palace, and the values contained within.
This is a fascinating thought.
Physical Buildings were reflections of internal memory palaces, and the living memory of the enduring cultural values they sought to preserve.
Their dimensions, their sculptures, their ornamentations, all referenced the importance of retaining memory.
I think of modern architecture…. and how god ugly and plain and utilitarian they are, devoid of humanistic values, and what a pitiful example of a memory palace they are.
Moreover, from a linguistic development perspective, written script started out as iconography, literal images which the mind’s eye could place within a memory palace.
Images, and the symbolic power they possessed as a memory tool, were the foundations of thought, and sophisticated culture more generally.
What’s Important to note, is that for intellectuals of past who prized the role of memory, they made a strong distinction between memory and recollection.
With all the written information infused throughout our daily lives, Memory is an art that’s rarely practiced. Rarely emphasized in education. Rarely prized for its merits.
But until very recently, memory quite literally was a key ingredient to invention and discovery.
The trinity of man was: memory, understanding, and will.
Cicero’s books on rhetoric which contain the best remnants of the ancient art of memory were named “De Inventione”, and Aristotle wrote at length about the role of memory for creation.
A common definition of memory was “a thesaurus of inventions and of all parts of rhetoric”. The Latin root of thesaurus is “treasury” or “storehouse”. Memory is a storehouse for ideas, for images, of value.
I find this all fascinating.
Additionally, Platonists placed the most importance on memory. The idea of a memory palace and the utilization of images situated at loci within reveals their commitment to “forms” which reveal the highest truth.
Believing in the transmigration of the soul, they believed the life was a process of “remembering” universal truths which were forgotten at birth. These platonic forms are like Jungian archetypes, which reveal themselves through meditation.
The process of creating memories, of constructing internal worlds and memory palaces, is literally a meditative one. It is the process of quieting the mind, freeing oneself from extraneous distraction, and concentrating to affix vital truths and the images representing them within the interior palaces of the mind.
This tradition was manifested most plainly in monasteries and by monks.
I wish I could relay all the idiosyncratic details supporting all this, but you should read the book.
The discipline and art of memory is an almost spiritual enterprise, in that it deals with the formation of consciousness, of expanding internal worlds.
Learning, knowledge, wisdom…. these are impossible without a robust memory. And there is an explicit art of memory that’s existed since the dawn of civilization… and which I fear is losing its power.
Memory via internal palaces and images requires responsibility and self possession, a result of self discipline and mastery.
External images require none of this, and leave man dispossessed, and open to persuasion and influence.
Anyway. It’s all very interesting.
What makes explaining ideas or concepts to people difficult, is that my internal “knowledge” world is a spatial or visual place.
So communicating ideas takes it from this spatial world of information, and translates it into a linear string.
Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed about how to accommodate this spatial idea, full of complex relationships, and flatten it into a linear message.
If you want someone else to inhabit this world of yours, communication is the tool is get this done.
But sometimes it’s like, where do you start?
Having a good understanding of the audience/interlocutor is incredibly helpful for framing proper context. But even then it’s difficult, especially if it’s a casual conversation.
I feel like to properly articulate ideas requires a 60 second buffer to examine the idea and compress it properly into a coherent string of logical relationships before you begin communicating.
Which is why I always prefer writing my ideas out, because to me it’s akin to sketching, fleshing out the contours and outlining the substance before drawing hardened lines around core ideas, erasing superfluous strokes, and shading and coloring where necessary. Properly writing out ideas is very much like drawing in this regard.
So speaking becomes increasingly difficult with the complexity of the idea. But the thing is, most significant ideas are situated in this spatial place. So to truly communicate the significance of where it’s situated consistently seems like an overwhelming task.
In fact, it makes me just not want to talk. I end up at a loss for words.
I think if my brain processed faster, I’d be able to optimize this compression and simplification process.
Like someone asks you something, or you’re talking about something, and as you speak you keep having to stop and mentally restart again and again because accommodating all the relevant information into a simple linear message seems to be overwhelming? It’s like compressing a 3D image into a 1D signal, whatever that means.
Does this make sense?
We are the light that illuminates the world, and story is how we project this light
John von Neumann
This is the mastermind group responsible for modern computing, who drew mathematical parallels of cognitive processing to the world of computational logic
Religious people often speak like they have access to truth that others do not. They speak like they possess some divine enlightenment. Like they found the truth, and everyone else is in the dark. And they talk to people like they’re lost, like they’re blind, and ignorant, but the religious person just so happened to figure it out and find the truth, and knows best. There’s a certain hubris to certain religious speech. I find that rather than speaking with people, religious figures speak at them. Like people don’t know what’s good for themselves.
I remember growing up in the church and having this impression of “non Christians”. They were all in the dark, lost, sinning. I remember how the religious folks talk about the unsaved, like they were fallen, incapable of knowing certain spiritual realities and truths. “You need to live like this, because this is the way to live, and I know the way, because I know the truth.”
Eventually I found myself very close with these non-believers, becoming best of friends with them. These atheists, these Muslims, these Hindus. They were capable of kindness and possessed wisdom and all the other fruits of character which I was raised to believe were only accessible to Christians. I realized how silly I was thinking they weren’t capable of knowing spiritual realities and truths, despite having a different set of beliefs or faith. Some people are less reflective than others, but I found myself ashamed to think that people with different beliefs or lifestyles were any less capable or equipped to know what’s right and true.
We really can’t be compassionate with others until we’re compassionate with ourselves.
When I was growing up, I used to look up to these figures. They had it all figured out. Or they spoke like they did. In time,
I realized they didn’t. That they were just like everyone else, but masked it better.
I became wary of anyone who thinks they have found the truth. Like it’s a destination. Like something that can be had, or known in full.
I realized there were many who possessed a humility, who didn’t claim to know, but were committed to seeking the truth, and they speak like the pursuit of truth is an endless journey. They realize that self deception and ignorance is a feature of humanity, and have the humility to journey on despite that feature, despite knowing there is no arrival, but seeking truth nonetheless. They don’t claim to know anything. They just possess the desire to know.
Our memories of the past inform our interpretation of the present
I’m in a pub, located somewhere near Times Square. “Let me blow your mind” by Eve and Gwen Stefani plays overhead. I’m drunk and short of breath. Drunk Shakespeare happens at 10am. I just received a scotch on the rocks. My chest is tight. I think of high school, of J. I have a miniature bouquet of carnation flowers on the table before me. Memories.
I pretend not to teach, but to inquire; and therefore cannot but confess here again,–that external and internal sensation are the only passages I can find of knowledge to the understanding. These alone, as far as I can discover, are the windows by which light is let into this DARK ROOM. For, methinks, the understanding is not much unlike a closet wholly shut from light, with only some little openings left, to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without: which, would they but stay there, and lie so orderly as to be found upon occasion, it would very much resemble the understanding of a man, in reference to all objects of sight, and the ideas of them.
Read this article and it inspired some thoughts.
When I say “I worked hard” for this or that, I’m implying additional sacrifices that similar peers don’t make, won’t make, or can’t make.
Doesn’t mean that I am smarter or that the hard work paid off/was warranted, or that hard work leaves me entitled to something. It simply indicates sacrifices above and beyond the typical expectations.
But typically, hard work, going above and beyond, sacrificing what you value most, namely time… time to do or invest in other things that may be pleasurable… yields rewards. Albeit not always tangible. These rewards are less about what you get and more about what you become in the process of sacrificing.
I worked hard in college. What did that mean? I sacrificed a lot of time toward my education and leadership or academic extracurriculars or my part time jobs. I didn’t party as much. I didn’t have down time. Full course loads. Packed scheduled between and after classes. To achieve goals.
There are people who spent less time studying than I in college, and they got better grades. But I didn’t work hard in grades 1-12 compared to my peers, and the hard work they put in allowed than to be more efficient and productive in college. While my peers were studying for the AP’s, I was partying. Their hard work and sacrifice paid off. Now I had to make the sacrifice.
Some people work hard to get to a certain level, then never put the same level of hard work in again. They coast. Maybe because they don’t feel the external pressure anymore, not from parents or school, and they want enjoy life. That’s good.
Sure hard work is relative when you think of time spent working. Who can say whether two people are working “harder” than the other. By what measure? Output? Depending on the job, this is a difficult thing to measure.
But sacrifice is pretty straightforward. There are only so many hours in a day. The greater portion of them you spend to achieve your ultimate aims is a function of hard work.
Hard work is sacrifice. It’s a function of time, but also intensity, which is a function of focus, which requires emotional investment. This is devotion.
I believe that life is reaping and sowing.
Farmers must obey the seasons. They sow in the spring, cultivate in the summer, reap in the fall, then save their harvest through the winter and prepare for spring.
There are lots of proverbs about farmers who have equal plots of land, but get different yields.
Some farmers are conscientious, some are not. Some are tedious in their preparation and planning, some are not. Some don’t care and tend to their crop until they reap, others inspect and prune and eradicate weeds and insects and nurture their crop.
I feel like hard work is character.
Its not about what you get, it’s about what you give. You don’t work hard for a reward. You work hard because that’s who you are. Because that’s the habits you’ve conditioned into yourself to embody, so when any challenge is presented, your default is to solve it with the same tenacity and diligence and conscientiousness that you have always done. This makes you dependable, and valuable.
Whether this is enough for the world is another matter. Whether your hard work manifests into tangible rewards like money or status or power is another matter.
But I believe hard work is pretty straight forward.
Do you make the sacrifices? Do you go above and beyond expectations to solve a problem, to accomplish the task? Do you persist until it’s completed?
Some tasks are more important than others.
My colleagues have families. They work hard and make sacrifices being family men, and they can’t devote the same to their job. A single bachelor is able to work harder as a result, assuming work is their highest value.
I don’t think saying you worked hard implies a level of entitlement.
“I think the issue is that when people say they’ve “worked hard,” they’re implicitly suggesting superiority. I’m deserving of reward, not like those people who are lazy (“those” people being immigrants, poor people, liberal arts majors, whoever it is you seek to contrast yourself against).”
I think any well adjusted person would agree that in life, we don’t deserve anything. Literally.
Life’s not fair.
Life is hard.
Whether you work hard, make sacrifices, or go through the motions, and indulge whenever you can.
The difference is, while time passes all the same, who you become as time passes is different.
I genuinely believe that hard work, sacrifice, persisting through struggle… is what creates character.
Character is most evident in hard times.
Character is not appreciated or obvious in easy times.
Character is resilience.
When things get hard, what do you do?
Buckle down, grind through, persist, stay disciplined?
Or do you try to find some way around. Or just stop all together. Find an “easier” way? Lie cheat steal?
Time passes the same for everyone.
But who we become while that time is passing depends on our willingness to work hard. Our willingness to make sacrifices. To go without.
I struggle to relate to the author of that article.
Hard work seems tied to a self-awareness which believes that personal responsibility can influence desired outcomes
Why work hard, make sacrifices, if outcomes were certain?
Certain because of privilege, or inferring the future will be like the past.
Certain because a belief that no matter what you do, you can’t chance fate.
Certain for whatever reason.
But when you take personal responsibility, and expand the sphere of influence to every conceivable facet to influence a desired outcome, you are incentivized to work hard, make sacrifices etc
This can actually turn into a complex topic.
Because what actions you take while you work may determine different levels of productivity.
You can work hard spinning like a hamster wheel, with minimal productivity.
So effort alone is not an indication of hard work.
Hard work also can be obligatory. Working two jobs to live semi-comfortably to support a family.
Or work one job and go to school and sacrifice some things for the short run for more opportunities in the long run.
Doing the minimum expectations isn’t hard work, necessarily.
You can be a farm hand. All farm hand work is manually laborious. I guarantee any farm has farm hands that work to different levels. Some are considered hard working, some are not.
Is it just to get a job done? Is it do get a job done that exceeds expectations? Once? Time and time again?
For white collar jobs things seem different.
Some people seem to not have to invest as much emotionally into work and still achieve higher productivity. They may spend more or less hours. But the work they do is excellent, complete, professional, i’s dotted t’s crossed. Impeccable.
Some people have to invest a lot emotionally to achieve productivity. They are emotionally involved with their work, and it drains them. They can’t separate. They pour themselves into it, and maybe overtime, to achieve a similar result
I still think that perfect practice, the hard work and sacrifice of pursing excellence at your craft, provides compounding returns to your skill and productivity over time.
This goes for musicians, athletes, artists, sales people, technologists and programmers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, everyone.
Hard work is an investment. That’s how I see it. I feel like their is an emotional element to it.
Everything is hard before it becomes easy.
I think of the biographies of great thinkers and doers.
There is a hallmark to their work.
A devotion that never sleeps.
A devotion to their craft, to pursuing excellence, to refining their methods.
Focus is critical for hard work. And without an emotional investment, I’m not sure this is possible.
Spending time on an activity alone is not hard work.
But it’s usually a requisite
Or a symptom of that emotional investment
Stare at this long enough, and perceptions adapt, causing distinctions to disappear.
Relevant analogy for any habituated perception.
Does biological evolution flourish in high entropy environments?
I think of anti-fragile. Tangentially, Lindy’s law.
I think it does, within reason.
I was thinking that high entropy environments, ironically, are most conducive to life
Within reason, of course.
High entropy as in high energy, high disorder.
Was thinking about how biologists determine where to locate the highest areas of biodiversity on a map. Like sloped areas, valleys on land or sea. Warm areas, with higher radiation and temperature. Areas with high water velocity. Humidity, to capture the heat. Anything that promotes disorder.
I’m sure there are other factors comprising high energy/entropy environments.
I was thinking of geologic landscapes. Areas of high entropy are like warm climates with high precipitation, where there is high water erosion, perhaps from elevated topologies/mountains, that then precipitate on the valleys below, which capture the high energy rain flow in streams and rivers and the particle/debris/ mineral nutrients along with it to enrich the soil and just create disorder from erosion and flooding and upheaval.
Or thermal vents located on the abysmal sea floor, and the abundance of creatures that proliferate at these high temperature chemical rich areas in an otherwise stable, cold environment.
Or the Cambrian explosion, which just so happened to be associated with the hottest global temperatures.
It’s like evolution thrives in disorder
Which is just interesting
Biodiversity appears greatest in high entropy areas. Just disordered
I get that like, super high temps would be lethal. And my idea of high entropy is just limited to what’s on earth. I’m sure Venus could be considered high entropy? Could it? Not a very hospitable place for life…. or is it? We don’t know. Not for life as we know it anyway.
I just think it’s interesting that on a genetic level, disorder, entropy, etc seems to promote fitness….
Equilibrium would seem to make sense… like safe and secure, predictable. But that’s not really what leads to strengthening. Perhaps it leads to a fixedness. But when the environment changes, the organisms eventually have struggling to adapt and die out. Like an inertia.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps life doesn’t die out, just the organisms who evolved to the equilibrium state and adopted a fixedness die, and the other simpler, less complex organisms eventually evolve to fill the new void.
Is nationality the same as identity?
Nationality could be just a way to index your place of birth.
It could also be a way to identify with a culture.
The United States is unique in that respect because of our short history, and because every citizen is the product of immigration.
The melding and accepting of cultures is an uniquely American ideal. Perhaps this cosmopolitan ethos has expanded to other counties with the increase in globalization.
Nations were once very monocultural, and that was a “good” thing, which reinforced the nationalistic identity assumed as citizens.
But technology has bridged cultural gaps in terms of knowledge access and transfer and exposure, via the proliferation of media and information, and the ease of travel.
Europe, once taking great pride in its monocultural institutions, has many countries that are nearly as diverse as America.
This cultural pluralism is hotly debated. Is this diversity a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? When is it good and when is it bad?
I feel that diversity is a good thing when people reach across the aisle and seek to understand others, and minorities do their best to assimilate into the prevailing institutions, bringing with them their unique cultural values as contributions to expanding thought and perspective and ideas of legacy institutions.
It’s bad when there is no assimilation, when the majority is no longer tolerant, or the minority holds too tight to their culture, and refuses to adapt.
I’m an American. I speak “American” (English yes, but clearly a different accent, and often a different dialect depending on the demographic I’ve been socialized by).
Do I identify with American values? It’d be difficult to deny this. They are generic enough. Freedom and liberty? Sure.
I’m not the most patriotic person.
I’m mostly aware of my nationality when I travel, and I’m exposed to traditions and values and social etiquette that’s hidden in the folds of society when your submersed there.
Attitudes toward education, elders, women, technology, work, eating, health, vacation, etc, etc.
Culture is a hidden force that’s only revealed by exposure to radically different ways of living.
A force in the sense that it has shaped and molded our character and constitution in ways completely hidden to us without a contrast to compare to.
I know many who have never left the town they were born in. What does culture mean to them? “I am the way I am and I can’t be any other way!” And they you travel, and the world opens up and exposes these “other ways” of being. And possibility can finally bloom. Or the fear and discomfort of this “difference” causes a retreat back into the familiar, and a disdain for the “other”.
I find books produce the same effect.
Beliefs and assumptions and values are imbued throughout our psychological development which eventually become a more and more rigid identity that become more and more inescapable the longer we refuse to explore alternative ways of living and thinking.
The brain is plastic, so anyone can change. But it requires a more radical force to create this change if mind, because habits of being are so deeply engrained.
No one can escape the process of enculturation. But we can become aware of it, and choose our influences more wisely.
But individuals and groups behave very differently.
Mass psychology has a mind of its own, and often individuals would reject the mass psychology they see as detrimental in others, though they themselves participate in it.
I see the Christian disdain for Islam, and find it fascinating that more parallels aren’t drawn between the two. Gross generalizations projected onto the other, completely blind that they are active participants in the same mass psychology by a different name.
I like the Socratic attitude of being a “citizen of the world”.
That should be the response.
There are universal values which encourage the flourishing of humanity that no nation can claim as their own.
We should identify as citizens of the world. Humanity is one. Differences are a matter of perception, and dialog typically resolves those differences with understanding.
Culture is a by product of the collective struggle of the group to make survival meaningful. We struggle to solve problems as a group, and the activities produced by that struggle become our culture. And these struggles are not only engineering or political feats. They include relationships, labor, creating beauty through art, adapting to the climate, etc.
But the struggle is universal.
Ironically, many people who have reject Marxism out right have not read it.
I found Das Kapital one of the more illuminating books I’ve read from a sociological point of view.
When I was studying economics, I quickly realized there were some major flaws in the neoclassical methods we were being taught, most of which he pointed out in this Ted Talk.
My favorite class was the History of Economic Theory and Methods. It was the only class that exposed me to ideas other than neoclassical economic theory. I found this appalling. Many go throughout college and learn this prevailing neoclassical economic theory and its methods and have zero clue that other theories exist, that other philosophies exist. They might get a footnote about the Austrian school of libertarianism. But mostly your indoctrinated to believe that neoclassical economics is truth.
Considering how poorly it mapped onto my understanding of a stochastic world, and humans which are entirely irrational, and having learned about sociological theories which explain the role of institutions in imbuing humans with values which drive behaviors and purpose, I felt strongly there were more productive ways of conceptualizing an economic system. And when I took that history of economics class, I found plenty of them.
Marx had profound ideas that weren’t all that original, but were uniquely synthesized. He took many observations from Hegel and Ricardo and others and applied them to them to how the individual engages in economy. Marx was a phenomenal sociologist. Perhaps not a great economist. Alfred Marshall did a phenomenal job outlining economic forces and formalizing them, but sociology and psychology were still undeveloped subjects of study.
What caught my eye most was institutional economics, pioneered by Thorstein Veblen, which examined the evolutionary forces that shaped economic behaviors. Behavioral economics is an outgrowth of institutional economics, which has gained more widespread attention, because it accommodates irrational agents. But I’ve yet to see a comprehensive economic system that appreciates the sociological forces that account for economic behavior.
The reason why neoclassical economics took off is because of monetary policy. By operating under the neoclassical framework which can mathematize economics and human behavior, capitalists can push and pull levers to greatly impact economic outcomes. Unfortunately, as we have seen from stagnating wages, increased debt, and speculative investing, and this has not elevated the public good and the labor it represents, but has profited only those with the access to capital, which benefit from this financial manipulation, if they know how to navigate the game. The current economic system is a scheme that is showing its cracks. In the short run it can make predictions, but in the long run it falls apart. And we’re seeing it fall apart. It has no basis other than to serve capitalists with the time and money to invest speculatively. And the economic growth they point at the justify these measures has benefited only a few. Per capita consumption has increased along with debt, and wealth has decreased.
I’m fascinated by mysticism. Like him, I believe exploring the irrational realms is necessary for understanding. In a way, these realms illuminate areas of ignorance, which can be turned into rational inquiry. Reason and logic is not good or bad. It’s an instrument, a tool. Values determine the intention of how these tools are applied. I have an aversion to those who push back on reason and science, the same way I push back on those who proclaim religion and god’s divine inspiration is all man needs to survive. Perhaps. Many people get along fine with religion and their private spirituality. But exploring the world has lead to more understanding of the universe and our place in the universe than religion has ever done. And religion and spirituality will never be replaced by science and reason. Religion creates communities, and spirituality creates unity, both of which orient humanity to higher values, both necessary for humanities survival. But values without reason is like fire without an engine. It’s powerful and illuminating, but can be dangerous when reason isn’t there to anchor the heart to the mind, which provides vision of consequences. I don’t think being uneducated is a virtue. On the contrary. I think being educated is one of the highest virtues. But education isn’t formal. It’s not an end. It’s a continual process of action and reflection, and refining, so to continually align values with reason and experience, to create soundness and coherence and resonance with the inner and outer. Self-education is the highest spiritual journey. Accumulating understanding is not just remembering, it’s also the process of forgetting. But relying entirely upon yourself is also risky, because of our natural propensity to self deceive, by taking our singular experience as the only experience of value. Gathering with other minds, from conversation and reading, and becoming educated on the various perspectives of others, greatly enhances our ability to understand.
I feel inadequate most of the time, ignorant, naive. So I read. I explore texts, converse with the authors, play with their ideas, delve into pages which become my forest of refuge, and make my home under the constellation of ideas that illuminate my interior. I feel lost. Like a wanderer in the desert. Books are my oasis. I wake, I turn, and I see my books around me. I grab one from the night before, and begin my day reading. G tosses and turns next to me. The sun drips into my room. I rise. I work. I make dinner. I get ready for bed, and open my books again. Ideas pour into me, and out of my imagination. Associations compound. I mark and highlight and notate. I look up words and references, check the citations, and buy more books.
Life is dark, and books are light. But an endless receding light. No amount of reading gets me closer to the illuminating portal I gaze after. Diffuse hazy ambient light slowly transforms into a concentrated beam which fixes my attention, which gets smaller but brighter all the time.
When my mind isn’t engaged with people and tasks, it reflects on these ideas. Ever constructing coherence to this mind which frames experience, which accommodates the pregnant possibility every moment I gaze into the world, at the world, onto the world. Books augment this frame of mind, provide ornamental structure and scaffolding to hang my perceptions upon, to yield beauty and depth to the ordinary all around me. There is an infinite abyss which gazes back at me when I stare into the world. Endless constructions that appear and transmorph from moment to moment which leave me speechless, until some “other” demands my attention, and a crystallized response takes me away.
Books contain worlds which my curiosity and wonder can’t help but explore. Repetition. Reading and absorbing ideas, impressing them deep into my soul, where they meld and mix and generate novel perspective I can call my own. I feel forever ignorant. Learning it all, consuming the knowledge, and not just reading it, but living it, gathering the primary experience which the authors report on, feels like drinking the ocean. How can I make it all stick in some impressionable way? How can I take all that I read, all that I experience, and build something useful with it? How do I shape my character and constitution in a way that gets me closer to my highest values? Reading. There are so many books, so little time. Travel. People. Work. How to do it all? How to prioritize? Reading still leaves me feeling the most ignorant, and the most empowered. I wish I could talk about everything I read, or have read. Not just popular books, but the the classic pioneers of thought who laid the foundations that humanity benefits from, but so few know it. So few know of the ocean beneath their feet. The world’s which exist under every utterance, the history and people that built these structures we all benefit from, composed entirely of ideas.
If I had one wish, it would be to read and converse and write and build upon these ideas.
But for now, and maybe forever, I am a hobbyist, an amateur, a dilettante. But I enjoy it nonetheless.
A macabre part of me wishes Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and all these social media personality platforms imploded and self destructed.
Imagine all these digital personalities, these faux avatars that people parade, completely disappearing overnight.
What would be left?
There’s a lot of good these platforms do. Lots of great information and knowledge that’s disseminated. Lots of quality goods and services that get exposure.
But there’s also a ton of bullshit. People making millions from exploiting boredom. Exploiting fantasy.
They do funny things. Pranks. Or post travel pictures. Or their cars or houses or savvy work life. Inspirational quotes. Or record their musings. Insert a product placement here or there, for some company or their own.
I just imagine…. what would happen if it all just… disappeared. What would these people do? Their lives revolve around curating and cultivating a digital avatar. It exists night and day. Static images or recordings trapped in this ether-net. Always present.
I guess it’s a permanent part of humanity now.
I’m mostly curious what would happen if the ability to self-promote en masse was suddenly taken from people.
What would they do?
I guess it’s no use wondering.
I just wonder.
I saw a post from a wealthy self made real estate developer:
Left The Bahamas, caught a flight in Florida, and made my way back to BVI.
I’ve been traveling a majority of the days in the past 2 months. It’s been crazy and stressful but also each trip has taught me something new about myself, how to run my business, and have given me new ideas to scale my impact.
If I were to give in to my stress by staying in Nashville and running my businesses from there, I wouldn’t even come close to creating the change I want to see in the world within my lifetime. I’ve got one chance and this life and I refuse to settle for mediocrity because that’s what is “comfortable”.
Your higher self is in direct opposition to your comfort zone.
What are you stuck being comfortable with? Change that.”
There’s a picture of her on a mountain overlooking an aquamarine ocean.
I thought to myself:
if a tree falls and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound?
If you do something important with your life and there’s no one there to validate you, does it matter?
The power of social media to validate and self-reinforce these ambition tropes is a strong force.
It’s not necessarily bad or good.
But I really wonder.
If the ability to self-promote your carefully curated digital avatar was stripped from you, who would you really be?
What would happen to all these personalities? Would they have an existential crisis?
We have a growing portion of society whose identity is directly tied to the validation of the masses.
What problems does this create?
What happens to these personalities when their fabricated digital identity is suddenly voided? And they are left with themselves, no mass validation? Just the small circle of relationships that typically accompany a person’s life. Are they in good company? Are they good with themselves?
This social media personality avatar phenomenon is only fifteen years old or so. Yes, there have been entertainers forever. But it’s different nowadays. People compete for seconds of the public’s attention. A few seconds of stimulation that someone reacts to, and you have a follower. Your utility as a digital avatar is to produce seconds of stimulation while they scroll through their feed. This is the value you bring to the world. Your online identity is validated by those who endorse your abbreviated ability to stimulate for moments, every day.
It’s all very curious.
Is there a lifespan to this economy? Will society grow tired of it in 15 years, and revert back to more traditional forms of community for validation? What happens then?