Tag Archives: Philosophy

Now just One Minute

I remember, when I was a bit younger, hearing that the life of a butterfly, once freed from the prison of its cocoon, lived for only a day.  I’m not sure how true that is as the Monarch Butterfly lives for six months, if memory serves.  Even if it is rarely true it is still an interesting fact.  I always wondered if that single day of life felt like a single day to the flutterby?  Does it feel as short as it sounds?

When I was about the age of 10 years I was struck by a strange near fatal illness.  I have always been under the impression that it was diphtheria, but I don’t know that as fact.  When I think about the butterfly flutteringby for its single day I wonder how long that passing day seems to the little critter.   I wonder if the butterfly can even conceive of the notion of time much less one as complicated as ours.  I wonder what it would be like for a lifetime to be such that the first half occurred in the light and the second half in the dark.  There is a point to this, I think.

We humans are quite curious in the way we understand our world.  Appointments, work schedules, bank accounts, credit cards, maps and countries are just a few numbers we use in almost every moment of our existence.  Nations, distance between cities and the diameter of our little planet and even the date of our birth and death are other numbers we use often.  Complicated ideas like force and velocity are also based on these strange numbers.  Weight, which is the effect of gravity on mass, length, height and time allow us as intelligent beings to develop an understanding of our reality.  These things, weight, length, time are metrics or units of measure are created by we humans and we accept them for the sake of simplicity.  They do not exist on their own in nature, there is a tree that grows yard sticks, meters, kilogram measures or seconds.  In my experience that is where the weirdness begins.

I don’t feel the passage of time naturally.  A clock does it for me but with out one I have no sense of time what so ever, unless I am smoking, tobacco.  Yes, I know it is bad for me.  Its been like that since my breakdown.  Maybe it was different in the respect of feeling times passage pre-breakdown but I have no point of reference, after all it was a long time ago.

I know this sounds crazy.

Really it came home to me after my fathers passing, when the ancient photos of a life so foreign to me came  back out into the world.  I knew the people in the photographs and yet I didn’t know them.  They were like a glimpse into a world that never existed even though I was pretty sure they had.

Over these many years with my strange occasional bouts of melancholy as though something had been lost, a thing that could never be regained, I found myself wondering as to the very nature of that thing.  After The old man’s death, when I became the old man, that sense had become exquisite ad sweet like some exotic food or strained alien mental sensation.

I wondered if I too was dead.

Would I know if I were?

Have my last many years of life been like that of the butterfly, just a day or a few hours as death was in the process of taking me?  I don’t think I would know the difference.  We have such definite ideas about the world but all of them are based on the measurement of our perceptions.

I find my self perplexed by the idea that these many years may be nothing more than phantasms of my dying brain.  My wife and friends and all these efforts to express my thoughts and even my brothers all figments of a sequence of neurons firing in those last few minutes while I lay in a hospital at the age of ten dying.

Does any of this really matter?

I think not.

Look for your Muse.  Only she can be your guide.

Intangible

Tangibility is the key

give it a number

weigh it

measure it

run some electric through it

Does it react?

Misbehave?

Get angry?

The Intangible carries no weight

An assembly of numbers

is still responisible

somehow

as though

The subtle might have a say

Even though it is not

This is

We are

That is an uncomfortable question

Equality under the Law

It is a phrase that we hear from time to time, depending on what we read, watch or listen to, that no one is above the law.  The law that is being discussed is either civil or criminal law, it is the law of and for citizens.  Every country, just about, has these laws on both a national and local level.  In my watching, listening and reading experience, when this phrase is used, no one is above the law, it is in the political arena.  It becomes apparent in the debate that this term is commonly applied to our political leadership and or our captains of industry.  For instance, the term war criminal gets bandied about one political or corporate leader here or there.  Kissinger, George W Bush, Barack Obama and soon, I am sure, Donald Trump will all stand accused of one crime or another the most interesting being a War Criminal.   Who is accused is largely partisan although there are some dissident voices from both extremes, left and right who seem to apply the term with an even hand.  There is a problem though, with the term, as it has little to do with civil or criminal law.  It deals with the laws of and between Nations, International Law.

This is where the weird and illuminating difficulty lies hiding.  There is the same problem with in International Law that there is with in national law.  That problem is that some nations are above the law and others under it lay.  It is evident that great nations or powers benefit from the laws of nations while weaker nations or states find that they are bound by these laws.  This becomes most apparent with respect to War Crimes. The side that wins the war, the most powerful, in American vernacular the winners, have never be tried for war crimes, they will never be seriously accused, in effect war crimes and the laws that define them do not apply.  In other words, regardless of lofty rhetoric War Crimes are exactly that, words designed to get a response and nothing more.  These Crimes are for the Losers, also a term common in American phraseology.

This may seem cold at first but there is a point.  While good citizen’s of the United States worry over serial killers and wax rabid about the crimes of great corporations horrendous things, criminal actions are being undertaken in our name.  At the very least that is how the victims of these actions see it.  The United States is not alone hear, it is in interesting company to say the least.  China, Russia and a couple of key members of that group of nations collectively known as the west, principally England and France.  Notice that The United States, Russia, China, England and France all have one thing in common, they are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.  Nothing passes with out their agreement, each has the ability to veto any measure the general assembly tries to pass and none of these nations has ever had to have any of its leaders, civilian or military face the charge of War crimes with the possible exception of France.  Instead they prefer the charge of treason.

Why am I talking about this?

We talk about peak oil, terrorism, global warming, nuclear war and other threats to our liberty and our lives.  The system, even the internet system, has away of putting our fears and problems on another level like a land separate or better yet a distant planet.  The secrecy that national security requires and our own elite notions of ourselves as a nation has put us in an unusual position.  We have faced the abyss and closed our eyes instead of taking the leap, letting our own eye wander inwards to survey our own inner world not only as individuals but as a people.  We as a people, I am beginning to believe that this a problem that effects all of humanity, have been put to the test and found lacking.  We are Morally corrupt and have no grasp of ethics while at the same time, we are sitting on a pile of the most destructive weapons ever conceived in written history.  Nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weapons that until now were unimaginable in the hands of corrupt, confused or simply stupid politicians leading a populations dazzled by bright lights and shiny things or lost in the shadows.  People worry about global warming or rising opiod addiction as the war drums begin to bang and sabers rattle.  The idea of War Crimes like the death penalty, is as a deterrent to violent acts of aggression.  If a person or group of people are above this law then they have no consequences to worry them.

That’s real power, the lack of consequences.  So when the Trump haters and the Trump lovers are dukeing it out in the street and as the war over what words are legal and which are not continue just try and keep that in the back of your mind.  The current President is the type of leader that can find himself trapped in his own rhetoric and then boom.

It won’t be the end, just major set back with lots of pain all around.

That is the thing about Power.  It isn’t the wealth, the admiration of the masses, all the free or cheap stuff, the comfort, multitudes of people to boss around, markets to establish, resources to exploit or the access to the worlds best medical care, it is the absence of consequences.  Real power can kill and rape on a scale that would make Ted Bundy or Charles Manson’s eyes turn green with envy.  Like the old saying goes, Kill one man and you are a murder, kill a million and you are a conqueror.  That is the problem with power.  That is why so many desire it and why it will be our undoing.

We are entering an interesting time.  I can only offer this advice, mostly to myself.  When the abyss finally opens at my, our, feet don’t close your eyes and I won’t close mine either.  Always give those you love a hug. Finally always try and remember that you are blessed.

Have a better than average day.

The Power of Hesitation

It is easy, I have found, to get caught up in the moment.  The mob is both frightening and enticing.  Once caught in its grasp there is this shifting of responsibility away from the individual  to the seething throbbing whole.  In this surrender of free will one find’s themselves trapped without feeling trapped,  Now if you are into this sort of thing then you can feel free to stop reading,  This is a piece about exercising free will and its not for everyone.

Any given individual is either a part of an event, acting with in their own sense of agency or in a neutral, observer state.  Rephrase, we are reacting, acting or hesitating.  The professor who taught the Action Theory class I suffered through back in college, one Doctor Robins, might have referred to this as a folk analysis or a folk understanding.  Well everybody has to start somewhere.   We do not just live in a world of events, we also live in a world of agents.  This is why an understanding, in an individual sense, is so important.  This debate, in my limited experience, breaks down between Predestiny (Determinism) verses Free Will (Action Theory).  Determinism is the idea that whatever choice you make today, at this second is based on all of the previous events, experiences and choices that you have made in the past.  Action Theory is dependent on the idea of Agency.

Agency means that some entities are actors and that they possess a thing or an ability that allows them to act that is known as Will.  There is an intellectual tendency to choose a camp but I prefer the quantum equivalent.   That any given individual exists in two states simultaneously.   The predestined state and the free will state coexist and that our resting state is the predestined state.  In the Predestined state we are simply reacting to the events taking place around us.  There is no exercise of free will.  Think of it like breathing.  You do it with out thought, it requires no exercise of will, it simply is.  A person simply breaths because their body demands it.

On the other hand there is Agency.  We are all born with this ability, we are all made to be Free Agents and we all have Free Will.  The choice, though, is like a muscle, it has to be exercised.  There is where the problem lies.  How can any individual tell the difference between a reaction and a choice, choice in this case requiring the exercise of Free Will?

This is where hesitation becomes important, the previously mentioned third state.  If one carefully observes others they have the opportunity to notice instant reactions when they occur, like the knee jerk response.  I swear to you I have seen people jerk their knee when they hear something or see something that they instinctively react to negatively.  Hesitation takes a great exercise of will.  It also involves some risk.  When The Christ stated turn the other cheek, he is talking about denying the reaction and concentrating on the action.  The act of Hesitating has to become trained, instinctive, it is through the act of Hesitating that any individual might be able to begin to detect the difference between reacting and acting.  Hesitating is an exhaustive process as it denies the instinctive response.  It also requires that part of the individuals attention constantly be cast inward in a semi reflective state.  Any one following this path needs a quiet space where they can just be.  This will give them the opportunity to rest and recuperate.  The path of Hesitation takes discipline and patience.  In time the difference between the two states, reacting and acting, will become easily discernible.  This will give the individual the opportunity to act when they think or feel they must and save their energy for pursuits closer to the heart.

The test is a simple one.  People, especially educated people, are experts at pushing other peoples buttons.  That is saying or doing something that will provoke a reaction.  So the next time some one hits you, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, or says a thing that cuts deep, that causes your body to scream and demand a response, hesitate.  While hesitating watch the reaction of the provocateur.

That is where the real education begins.

Beasts

“You are a killer,” Said Lion to Tiger

“You should not speak so,”

“Your Bloody paws can no longer touch the earth,” Responded Tiger.

They stared one and the other

One tawny, lithe and agile, one striped, strong and lacking in guile

The silent debate raged

Bear, Wolf, Eagle and Dragon aged

all carefully observed

It be the Monkey that drew their attention

It was their lunch by anyone’s reckonning

But the little beast had hesitated

at the most momentous second

It is these times that steal your breath

Stormy winds, shuddering earth, scorching fire and chilling water

before the step into impossibility

“Our meal is about to leave us,” the Eagle warned

Bear, Wolf and Dragon made carefully study

“Fear not,” Said the Tiger, “it can not leave us.”

“Trapped it is,” agreed the Lion

At the very worst it will eat itself

Then we will be without our lunch

and Monkey will stand on the edge of eternity

I wonder more often than not

If we have really come that far

as only a glance back reveals our own bloody footprints

would say other wise