Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scale and scales

There is a story from Oriental religion that is widely repeated in the western world: a teacher points at the moon and what his students see is just his fingernail.  This story is assumed to be about the gap between words and what the words signify. But a different interpretation would not invalidate the standard meaning. Here is what occurred to me.  Perhaps this teacher MEANT his students to see his fingernail AND the moon. Maybe his story was about the gap in size between the sliver of nail at the end of a finger and the size of the crescent in the sky.  The gap between what man thinks he knows and what is to be known, or even, between what a man doesn't know, and what there is actually in terms of the unknown.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winking at Complexity

This link is to an interesting article by a theoretical biologist, at Scipps Oceanogrphy Institute. He talks about what large changes in various systems have in common. He is attempting to link the financial collapse, the climate change evidence, and other similar events. He talks about synchronization between parts of a system, about a slowness just before the collapse, and the kind of generalization. The guy is on the verge of seeing something real. I would recommend anyone to read this article. Let me just quote a couple of parts here.

...Examples of catastrophic and systemic changes have been gathering in a variety of fields, typically in specialized contexts with little cross-connection. Only recently have we begun to look for generic patterns in the web of linked causes and effects that puts disparate events into a common framework—a framework that operates on a sufficiently high level to include geologic climate shifts, epileptic seizures, market and fishery crashes, ....

The main themes of this framework are twofold: First, they are all complex systems of interconnected and interdependent parts. Second, they are nonlinear, non-equilibrium systems that can undergo rapid and drastic state changes.

... there is emerging agreement that ignoring the seemingly incomprehensible meshing of counterparty obligations and mutual interdependencies (an accountant’s nightmare, more recursive than Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?”) prevented real pricing of risk premiums, which helped to propagate the current crisis.
A parallel situation exists in fisheries, where stocks are traditionally managed one species at a time. Alarm over collapsing fish stocks, however, is helping to create the current push for ecosystem-based ocean management. ... Though the geological record tells us that global temperatures can change very quickly, the models consistently underestimate that possibility. This is related to the next property, the nonlinear, non-equilibrium nature of systems.

Most engineered devices, consisting of mechanical springs, transistors, and the like, are built to be stable. That is, if stressed from rest, or equilibrium, they spring back. Many simple ecological models, physiological models, and even climate and economic models are built by assuming the same principle: a globally stable equilibrium. A related simplification is to see the world as consisting of separate parts that can be studied in a linear way, one piece at a time. These pieces can then be summed independently to make the whole. Researchers have developed a very large tool kit of analytical methods and statistics based on this linear idea, and it has proven invaluable for studying simple engineered devices. But even when many of the complex systems that interest us are not linear, we persist with these tools and models. It is a case of looking under the lamppost because the light is better even though we know the lost keys are in the shadows. Linear systems produce nice stationary statistics—constant risk metrics, for example. Because they assume that a process does not vary through time, one can subsample it to get an idea of what the larger universe of possibilities looks like. This characteristic of linear systems appeals to our normal heuristic thinking.

Nonlinear systems, however, are not so well behaved. They can appear stationary for a long while, then without anything changing, they exhibit jumps in variability—so-called “heteroscedasticity.” For example, if one looks at the range of economic variables over the past decade (daily market movements, GDP changes, etc.), one might guess that variability and the universe of possibilities are very modest. This was the modus operandi of normal risk management. As a consequence, the likelihood of some of the large moves we saw in 2008, which happened over so many consecutive days, should have been less than once in the age of the universe.

Our problem is that the scientific desire to simplify has taken over, something that Einstein warned against when he paraphrased Occam: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Thinking of natural and economic systems as essentially stable and decomposable into parts is a good initial hypothesis, current observations and measurements do not support that hypothesis—hence our continual surprise. Just as we like the idea of constancy, we are stubborn to change. The 19th century American humorist Josh Billings, perhaps, put it best: “It ain’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that just ain’t so.”

So how do we proceed? There are a number of ways to approach this tactically, including new data-intensive techniques that model each system uniquely but look for common characteristics. However, a more strategic approach is to study these systems at their most generic level, to identify universal principles that are independent of the specific details that distinguish each system. This is the domain of complexity theory.

Among these principles is the idea that there might be universal early warning signs for critical transitions, diagnostic signals that appear near unstable tipping points of rapid change. The recent argument for early warning signs is based on the following: 1) that both simple and more realistic, complex nonlinear models show these behaviors, and 2) that there is a growing weight of empirical evidence for these common precursors in varied systems.

A key phenomenon known for decades is so-called “critical slowing” as a threshold approaches. That is, a system’s dynamic response to external perturbations becomes more sluggish near tipping points. ... Another related early signaling behavior is an increase in “spatial resonance”: Pulses occurring in neighboring parts of the web become synchronized. Nearby brain cells fire in unison minutes to hours prior to an epileptic seizure, for example, and global financial markets pulse together. ...

My point in the above excerpts was not to convey the cogency of his arguments, just give a sense of his approach, so click on the hyperlink above and read the whole article.

What you will not find in the article (though he verges on it at moments) is how gravely he UNDERESTIMATES the complexity of what he is trying to analyze. Notice some of those big words, he may be waving them around like a torch in a tribal dance. But for cutting edge science this thinker (George Sugihara, a  theoretical biologist is the McQuown Chair in Natural Science  at Scripps) has done an outstanding job.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quoth the craven, evermore

Numbers are an aspect of reality---what kind, even mathematicians disagree. To a non-math person it seems that they are the backbone, the rigidity of science. All the explanations of science largley neglect the math parts I notice. Anyway, if you want to be precise you go to the right of the decimal, and, maybe, just keep moving. 
So is it not odd that these same numbers let us avoid----reality? What brought this to mind was the way numbers of years can fudge an old mystical "method." The method is not one Jan Cox used himself, , though he mentioned it. He merely said, it was not helpful to him. My recollection is of an obvious sense when he spole that it was a perfectly valid method.  (By method I mean the doing of the mystical search, not the talking about that pursuit.) The tool then we are discussing is (odd how long it is taking me to come to the point here) is the remembering of your own  mortality. That you, the subject, whatever else you know, you know, you will die.  
Assuming that is clear, and even writing about it objectively requires some steeliness, numbers can let you avoid this fact. Yes, if you think, well who knows when I will die, and you think one hundred years, who knows I could live that long, some people do, it could happen,
you are escaping, turning from, averting your consciousness from the reality of ---reality.
Obviously I am not recommending this method. And I will recall to everyone, what Jan said, if you are not smiling you did not "get it." He did not find this method helpful. It is nice though to have an example of a method, in case we forget what methods even are. Because to speak of something actively being used by the speaker, is to diminish it's value for the speaker. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The meaning of freedom

how interesting that in a world of governments, of people with agenda, of mechanical struggle, of electronic monitoring,  the main---only--??--place of external freedom should be, the geographical place where it all began, --the place where men domesticated, fire, ---
caves of mexico
caves of asia
caves I don't know about
Notice I said external freedom.
The nature, possibilities, limits, meaning of
is at the heart of the teaching of Jan Cox.
And if you take the above to have any political slant,
you are reading the wrong blog.
Jan actually did address the world of history---he saw the individual struggle as where one sought knowledge alternatively between the world outside and that within
and he had marvelous things to say on the subject of the external.
Rather than risk wasting some energy in what he said, let me just mention one thing,
that change is, 
but the cycles are beyond that of the life span of the individual.
News that is new.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Antarctica at the top or at the bottom?

When I recall the words of Jan Cox, and his description of what he chose to spend his life doing,  "I  call it the Work, (Way Of Real Knowledge) because that is what it is--Work, " words can seem like ice. Surface ice, the ice over a continent, a continent of mountains, all underneath a plane of unbidden white. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What there is

That can be discussed---
The method.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Let there be....

How do you annotate a flash of light?

Such is the chore facing, not this those concerned to convey the burden of the ideas of Jan Cox, but the issue facing anyone who investigates the nature of human reality.  

The sun glinting in the trees, the carlights on the bedroom wall, the juncture of the light switch...
These phrases only make sense to someone who has experienced them.  What can more words add to the experience itself, except the dubious assumption that our experiences are the same?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thothing it up

Thoth was, to be brief and inaccurate, the Egyptian god of mind, and writing. His representation in Egyptian art, though, is not dubious: this deity was presented either as a baboon, (sometimes just the head, on a human body) or an ibis. An Ibis for human thought strikes a precise note, does it not? Spindly legs, for perhaps that part of the human which is in the body, but not definitively. Sharp beak for pinpointing the PowerPoint points. How inspiring that those with a claim to inventing the first political state, should have so appropriately  picked a bird to convey the cerebral aspect of human reality. 

But what's with this baboon business? From the very vapors of the first marsh ascent, the people who looked around, and, able to catch their breath, finally, thought, we can do something with this, these people thought of "thought" in terms of a baboon. Does this not seem like a step backwards. Of course they did not have the perspective of modern evolution (considered by some superior to  polytheism as an explanatory structure). But what about baboons, clarified for the Egyptians, the mental dimensions of their world. The baboon might seem a clunky, rough hewn, model of human doing. rather than a way to explain human thought. This animal is hardly the aerial model of something that might survive  death. 

But what if, these ancient analyzers were able to appreciate something obvious that is yet entirely obscured by the flow of modern living. The Buddhists have a story about a man pointing to the moon. The problem he had was that those he wanted to look up, peered at the man's finger. Is it possible that the Egyptians picked the baboon to remind people that internal words, monologues. calculations, were just pointers to something outside us, and that words, were only ever of partial, instrurmental, value. The baboon then, is like the word, pointing to a human being, in reality. The word, as in a baboon, compared to a man, must always be a pointer beyond itself to the physical world. The choice of baboon reflects perhaps, an awareness of the inadequacy, and imperial apsect of verbage, and is meant to remind the thinker, the speaker, where the accent of reality goes. 

If this approach has any value, it means the Egyptians saw clearly an aspect of human reality which eludes the current era.  Ehh. Who knows?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The physical sciences

Real science is surrounded by popularizers of science, who think soldiering a noble calling. No need to name names. The real thinkers, are like body surfers, thrilled to keep any balance on the unknown infinity.  The popularizers and, most of those they keep out, are surfing in back yard pools.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Royalty's right to rule

What was the purpose of monarchy?  
In the greater economy of life 
which economy is obscured from all some of the time
and most, all of the time, 
in that greater (greatest being too presumptuous a word) economy of all,
with an intricacy and depth that modern physics only rarely even glimpses at the physical level, 
what purpose does inherited social position and political power play?

Jan Cox did not specifically mention this. As with most of the posts to this blog, meant to cast more attention on this 20th century spiritual teacher, the rationale is that he demonstrated and bid his students,
think fresh thoughts. 

Here is my latest attempt to think creatively:
And so here is a partial answer to the question, what is the purpose of monarchy.
At one time monarchy was an experiment on life's part to 
mechanically produce 

Royalty, occasionally, perhaps more often that other methods (in the past), produced people
who had nothing to hide, no bias to obscure, 
and were supremely confident of their right to lead.
Their swords cut clean.

The bravery of past kings is astonishing. Often it seems medieval kings barely passed on their genes when they died in some poorly thought out but incredibly brave military skirmish.

Now after some evolutionary twirls, this purpose is mainly irrelevant, the survival of mankind being less assured by physical leadership, than that of other human realms.

Objectivity was, it is perhaps unnecessary to say to those who have studied the writing of Jan Cox, cannot BE mechanically produced. One assumes this was always true, so life's experiments in this regard are --- instructive. 

Certainly though the landscape, and meaning of kingship, external and internal, has shifted, over millennia. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Words We Need

What is the opposite of the word ventriloquist.  Here is a definition of ventriloquist:

"The art or practice of speaking without moving lips so that the voice seems to be coming from somewhere else."

So my thought is, what would be a word for the situation where speech comes from all around a person, but appears to originate with the person with their mouth open.

Hmm, some phrases come to mind, "human history," the rational mind," "the verbal mind", "the ordinary mind," but a word, which means the opposite of ventriloquism...."I" would be a one letter word which might do the job. Still an open case though....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Words and worlds

Again the world sees straight in your face evidence of the nature of human beings and refuses to draw the obvious conclusions. The evidence is not just the accounts of the miners in their underground tomb; most natural disasters present stories of heroism, of extraordinary courage and devotion. What we see is people feeling and acting on their unity. The obvious physical separation of  human bodies deflects from the reality than human minds are not separate. The mechanical, rational part of the human mind is not completely separate from the minds of other people.The potential for a separate, evolved human mind exists,(as Jan Cox outlined in his work and books)  but the reality of the contemporary human condition shows itself on a broad scale during disasters. Of course it is safe enough for the endurance of the mechanical growth of humanity to allow these glimpses. For what follows such events; words. Words: guaranteed to make you forget what you saw, what you experienced. The miners made an agreement when they were together, alone. They would share equally in any profits from the accounts of their stories. How wonderful is that, and how sure to ensure they forget the nightmare of unity. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Brevity of Bede

Historians refer to the gloomy dark ages, and cite the scholar and monk, we now call the Venerable Bede, as an example.  Bede died in 735 AD, and among his memorable word pictures is that of a bird flying through a feast hall, the bird enters and exits the light, from the night, back into the night,  and so, is the point, man's life is comparably short. And Peter Quennell cites this as an example of the pessimism of that era. 
And with Quennell we see the extent that reality can be sidelined. To contemplate reality is joyous.  Infinities are infinities-the gulf of dark surrounding man is not diminished because we have electric lights and walls of books; the glut of knowledge we have at our disposal does not alter the proportions of light and the surrounding  unknown. Our basic situation is a feather's weight different from that Bede drew. The brevity that was the soul of Bede, is not historical, that span is the human.

Statute of Imitations

What google search engines can't find, is anything really original.  The words that compose a search string, must be phrases that others have used. By definition, that which someone else has already said.  The whole weight of the internet, the stricture, for instance, at wikipedia that eyewitness testimony is not a  valid citation, favors the hackneyed.  Yet it is not only philosophers like Jan Cox, putting fresh thought at the center of mystical technique, who stressed originality as a critical method.  Artists, writers, scientists, all depend on the energy and glitter of fresh thought. Jan Cox just made originality an accessible means of real effort at the personal level.  The internet is the past. You really cannot leverage any change, without bouncing off the past, at least. But know it for what it is --- and remember the currency of human thought is repetition. The web is yesterday, the web is for the masses. There is no statute of limitations on imitation,  the hackneyed, the trite, --- and this for good reasons ---, and yet for some, real breath, of molecules with a chemical signature unrecognized by ordinary textbooks, is strengthened by an insistence on the freshly ..... 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Putting Descartes before the thought

That Rene Descartes, what a slacker, and inventing a whole mathematical system, does not mitigate his failure of nerve at the really important point.
His famous skepticism,is still a useful tool, but his conclusion, is, like all conclusions, fatal to real progress. Recall that Descartes wondered, how can I determine reliable knowledge, and he decided to doubt everything he could.  The story we know is that he found one undeniable thought; "I think, therefore I am."
This was the exact point at which Descartes could have leveraged his consciousness into an area where vision was possible, the glints we all live with, could have been sustained a bit longer, but with his motto, I think therefore I am, he put a skull and crossbones sign, right at the mental geographical point where in fact, any sign should read: "come on in, the water's glorious."
Because you have to keep pushing, and the glimpse that our verbal apparatus is but a mechanical contraption, not even designed to pursue knowledge, but rather just rearrange the external world, is a good step. But it was foreclosed to Descartes, who put himself, right in the way of a clear view.  He trusted in words, when he was close to getting beyond them.
The mind, the ordinary mind, in the presentation Jan Cox used once, is a burglar, who, when the householder is roused to investigate a break-in, the burglar then puts his arm around the shoulders of the householder and says, "where, we'll find him, where could he be?" 
A resolute skepticism is a useful tool, take a thought, any thought that crosses your attention, say a thought like:" I love you, Tom Kelly." There is a landscape beyond the words, you have to try to look through the sentence train.
I think therefore I am, how reliable is that? No "I", no "think", might have allowed a glimpse of "am," 
But not for Renny. He still gets a halo for the tools of skepticism though. And now that I put this together, what if, Descartes meant that sentence, dada, I am, as a joke. A joke he was sure the right people would get. After all, it is manifestly absurd, to someone advertising they will doubt everything.  Really, I think I just got the philosopher's joke. It's on me. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thoughts on viewing Newton's Royal Society portrait

Words are just wigs, really. Man made approximations, enhancements, of reality, which do not bear close inspection, 
do not bear close inspection unless, your intent is to discover reality, regardless of what you find, 
of what you find

Friday, September 3, 2010

Can you spell parousia?

The recent reports that a leading physicist does not believe in god is of interest. Anything you have to believe in is suspect.  What the real inquirer needs is intellectual honesty, the energy to pursue investigations resolutely, and as an aspect of that intellectual honesty, a kind of intellectual humility.  Such a description will not appeal to many, never has, doesn't need to. But it is the only stance from which one can assess certain aspects of the contemporary literature of science.  This link is to an article describing what scientists call "The singularity,"

You may have to have a free account to view this so I think I will excerpt it at my weird facts blog. But basically it describes the idea that at some point in the future human intelligence will have reached its limit, and that then perhaps machines will be smart enough to take over. 
This idea is not a strange as it seems, it is the old religious idea of the end of the world, and then paradise. (Called parousia by people who are hoping good spelling counts in god's final evaluation.)
And for a few people the interesting phenomenon is that scientists have no clue where and how this idea is occupying their crania. They are just repeating some of the more dubious fantasies of millenia of religious thinkers. How can you not smile at this? I suppose we could have been tipped off by the odd circumstance that something like this is even in the news, how many centuries after the debate really ended. This current gasping at old gossip may be a clue that something else is beneath these topical events.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Eat the Silverware

Don't Eat the Silverware, you put it in your mouth and remove the utensil, after you have removed the cake to swallow.  Basic stuff, you would think...
Oh wait, this is earth, right. right....You never could distinguish the map and the terrain. Your earthling habit of assuming words, not what the words denote, are the relevant aspects, keep you confused and fighting so life's broader purposes can continue at the proper rhythm.
Just forget I said anything, I was the confused one, -- obviously--I forgot I was visiting earth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canny Valleys

The concept of the "uncanny valley" has come to my attention.  The phrase was invented by a Japanese robotics scientist, Masahiro Mori.  The definition we find in wikipedia, that bastion of belief that anonymous contributors are reliable, and personal knowledge irrelevant, is : 

This area of repulsive response aroused by a robot with appearance and motion between a "barely human" and "fully human" entity is called the uncanny valley.

The phenomenon is meant to explain the revulsion felt by people when contronted by a robot which is very human, but not fully human, looking.  Well, you can read the article as well as I can. What interested me was that perhaps we should call this a "canny valley," or perhaps, "uncanny peak." Because this revulsion may derive from the reminder,  a robot presents, a reminder that makes a person  forcibly glance at, this: his own mechanical, robotic, MIND. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

AND, on the third hand, here is binary thought, reduxduxdux

A lovely example of binary, thought, is today's news. Binary thought-- everything is either this or that. The basic construction of ordinary mentation and the means for humanity to -- redecorate the planet. Applied to the interior world binary thought gives us group think. Utterly necessary for most people. Original thought is simply not viable for large numbers of people. The qualities that predict the ability to hear the value of, a message such as that of Jan Cox, or other teachers, Gurdjieff, are, not known to this writer.  Even Jan could not always predict its presence in his listeners. So--our example at this link.
What we have is a narrative at the Skeptical Inquirer website of a person's journey from "new age' ideas to those of the skeptical inquirer. They say "skepticism" in the article. So you have a starting point and destination. New Age to skepticism. That is what they say, but in fact, what you have is the difference between a heroin addict and a methadone addict. Not much difference at all. Because it is based on binary thought, the reality, the vividness, of our world, the between the words, is lost. And lost, because of a total lapse of skeptical thinking. The website we link to is not skeptical at all. The real skeptics were skeptical about their OWN thoughts. None of that here. The 'skeptical inquirers' are not inquiring about anything. They have made up their minds, and stuck their labels according to their unscientific whims, all over their locker of the word world. So you can have new age blather, or dogmatic scientistic repetitive rote ordinary mentation.
Not interested in either, you might like to check out Jan's web site Jan Cox, who said, "if you tell me you're not falling for that, you're telling me you have already fallen for something else." The possibility of original thought is extant.

An example of non binary thought in the last sentence.

The Fields medal is widely considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel prize and is awarded by the International Mathematical Union on the opening day of the International Congress of Mathematicians, which takes place every four years....

The last time the event was held, in 2006, it was somewhat overshadowed by winner Grigori Perelman's refusal to accept his prize for solving the Poincaré conjecture.
ICM 2010 kicked off today in Hyderabad, India, with the Indian president Prathibha Patil awarding the prizes...

Cédric Villani of the Henri Poincaré Institute, Paris, France [was one of the recipients of a Fields Medal]...

Villani's work is also related to physics, in particular the mathematical interpretation of the concept of entropy. He has applied this to solve long-standing problems, such as how fast the motions of gas particles converge to equilibrium....

When asked why mathematics has been so successful at finding applications in the real world, Villani – sporting a burgundy silk cravat and a palm-sized spider brooch – said: "It is a very pleasant mystery. Let's continue to enjoy it and explore."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Grendel We Cling To, part 2

The following was written at the same time as The Grendel We Cling To, post of July 2.  Below we talk about what could be a modern equivalent of dragons. By this I mean what could function to move the story along. Move the story along means for the mind to keep going, to give the effect of motion when actually all the mind can do is a bunch of still shots, like the effect of motion in a movie. Dragons we talked before about because their abduction, battles with, defeating of, moved along stories of human grief, loss, triumph and made these things understandable, gave them significance. Below I suggest that a modern equivalent is the physical sciences, that in fact by talking about science, we are enabled to obscure, to forget, the real conceptual and physical gaps in our knowledge of the world. Kind of ironic, unless we remember what Jan Cox said, there is no such thing as irony in the world, that the term irony means you do not understand what is going on.  There will be some repetition below...

Dragons, in human history, have served to move the story, the people, the world, along, they provide motion, in a world which is now, and has always, been, at the heart, incomprehensible.  Dragons are the plot points, that incite and demand human activity, they slay the heroes, the give a purpose to the quest, the dragons draw in big black lines the irreducible dimensions of the human world.

I wonder is there not some modern substitute for monsters?  The accent of reality is not on dragons in modern literature, even when they appear in stories.

Does the world make more sense now. Some would say yes. But does the world really make more sense than it did to forest dwellers two thousand years ago?

I merely raise a question which will make no sense to some, and they need read no further. Although I cannot resist pointing out that the blame we cast on corporate despoilers of pensions, of gulfs, may actually be just a way to avert our gaze from the reality of the limitations of the human intellect.

I wonder if there is not some way to deal with the rush of reality in our modern times, while still acknowledging somewhat a world which compared to the human brain conceptual apparatus, makes the latter puny.  Possibly it is still true that the known world is so far surrounded by incomprehensibility that we still need some kind of monsters to let us operate in this sea of the unknown, without finding the truth fatal.  The words about monsters serve as a kind of shield like Perseus used, to slay a monster which to see directly would be freezing.  We still need monsters to move the action along is the theme of this essay.  Our assumption is that the human intellect is part of a larger cosmos, but the human intellect is merely a part and not equipped at a mechanical level to deal realistically with questions that involve counting beyond two. And yet reality is far more complicated than the binary functioning human brain can grasp.  This assumption I will not defend now, but merely point to the writings of Jan Cox, at the moment, for reasons of space, for readers who find this phraseology intriguing.

I suggest we live In a world where Zeno, where Hume, can poke holes in any scientific argument, (and wind up being ignored for their troubles, since no literate response is possible).

When you examine the external world, it ultimately is not coherent.  Now I know most scientists out there are sputtering (if they read this far) well we just have not finished our TOE, (Theory of the Extraneous). You can list scientific mysteries til the ravens come back to Oakland. Modern scientists must deny the obvious or they would be unable to proceed in the piecemeal manner they do.  The ocean of the unknown would swamp the brave intellects who do battle at the frontiers of the known, if they did not pretend their task was doable, if the scientists did not compartmentalize in effect, and ignore the surging sea of the unknown, a sea in which we bob and must, to struggle at all, bob unbrowbeaten.

Why the gap between the observed world and quantum physics, when don't the measurements of the universe's expansion make sense, and of course, the good physicist can say, well we are working on it, give us some time. Nice and irrefutable, and ---possibly---newsprint, wallpaper, over the gaping whole we avert our eyes from. What if, these stories about how the research has just not turned over the right stone, yet, what if these stories are just, the dragons of the twenty-first century, a means of moving the story along, because, you sense you cannot stop.  What if modern science itself is the monster of the twentieth century.

You cannot stop, say, your mind, from clacking. Something within senses that such a halt could be destructive for something we love a lot, our sense of identity. (Or whatever, I'm just making this up, maybe.) The mind cannot live mechanically on the slippery coast of reality.  There must be stories which help us ignore the terrifying aspects of our world. Aspects like, its immensity.

Is it not motion, change, time itself, that poses the biggest theoretical trilemma? Same reality as that faced, pondered, fingered, expounded upon, by those forest dwelling, forebears of most of us.  They wrote Beowulf, and used the tools at their disposal to understand their world. The to and fro, cleaving and sundering, mincing and meditating, the everchanging and frozen expanse we find ourselves a part of, that moving, improbable, yet ceaseless, sea.

To take any kind of view, is to distort this world. Yet we must, go out, come in, search for a meaning beyond the hormonal verities; we must sometimes also, speak----and so those bards fixed on the hard part, the worthy quest, what makes it all move, and dragons is as good an answer, as the others I have heard---if you must have answers. For isn't the real, our daily experience of flow of change, that very flash of light, and dark, isn't that our reality, and if you have followed any of this, then see---- that real---- is what cannot be explained. If you go to war, or find a treasure, or win a Nobel, you are interacting in the world, but it is an utterly implausible world, and only the brave can even glimpse that ----fact.

Let me rephrase my proposal: the world, all the objects in it, if viewed and studied by the mind, do not really fit together. An example is David Hume's point that you cannot prove the validity of inductive logic, inductively.  My example is the world as lived flows in a manner which the external sciences cannot explain.

The old stories tell of dragons and monsters: these creatures function as a kind of explanation of movement---people's lives are threatened by nighttime attacks by monsters, people's motives, the reason they go into the woods, is to revenge themselves on a monster, or find the treasure monster's might have. The flowing quality of the medieval world is explained (partially) by monsters.

In our century, a similarly clumsy attempt to explain the vivid life we actually experience is made by scientific explanations. Both attempt the same thing, and both fail.  Both can teach us something.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thoughts on an Independence Day Holiday

The etymology of the word poem, a thing made.  The only making people CAN do, to mirror the world, is to imitate the reality of the world, the creativity --- that is the making of life to which one created can aspire.  To make the mechanical, and call that making life, is to miss the reality of the world , the reality of the world that could count as a making. 

Which is related to the progress in making robots. Robots, to make them human, when really, what the progress with robots proves, is that people are robots, not that robots can be human.

All of which is related to the idea of independence...Independent of what? Planetary gases? Those of the dreams of the puerile, the dreams of superman.  A first step towards independence must be a consideration of what the word could mean.  That would be a step in the direction of freedom.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Grendel We Cling To

What is going on with those monsters in Anglo-Saxon poetry, the Grendels, the dragons? Beowulf is a good example.

Surely most people wonder this when exposed to the literature or music, of anonymous bards, and very nonomous musicians like Wagner?  Don't we all  find monsters enthralling, but---- why? 

Here might be one reason: the dragons and monsters thrill us because their historic function was crucial for humanity and that function was----they represented the real.

Huh, you ask, dragons don't exist, and there is no way some Anglo Saxon story-teller ever saw a dinosaur.  How could dragons function as the reality note in a story? 

Monsters demonstrably mark the spot on maps where there is an unknown.  The Indians (American) in the 17th century spoke of monsters on the river (Mississppi), monsters who had a huge roar and would not let travelers pass.  This might be the way a plains people would describe a waterfall. 

Our conceptions are always static, a word is not a word if it cannot be defined, but a definition is a confinement.  There is no real motion if your reality was exactly as your words portray it. And yet it –the world --moves.  To comprehend this movement is one function of monsters.  At best all the human mind can do, at best---is take still snapshots of the rapid rush we are contained in.

Dragons move the story, the people, the world, along, they provide motion, in a world which is now, and has always, been, at the heart, incomprehensible.  Dragons are the plot points, that incite and demand human activity, they slay the heroes, they give a purpose to the quest, the dragons draw in big black lines the irreducible dimensions of the human world.

You ask why the young and  good are killed.  At the level of words it makes no sense.  Yet the flow of reality is experienced even if we cannot capture, convey, our world in words.  This gap between words and reality, is where monsters come in. They provide the differential over which the water of reality can flow, in a closer approximation to the world we experience, than can words alone. 

Yet now, over a thousand years after Beowulf, slew and was slain, we still love dragons, and even sing about their disappearance.  Does that mean the epistemological issues raised in this essay are resolved. I wonder is there  not some modern substitute for monsters?  I wonder and intend to continue this essay soon...

Friday, June 11, 2010


Words are like bird feet.  And if you picture thousands and thousands of bird feet, you get a glimpse of the boring and mechanical quality of ordinary thought.  Back up though,-- words are like bird feet. The point is that birds fly, that is their glorious advantage. But they have feet and feet allow them to land and peck around, get their nourishment, and to secure themselves in trees at night. Feet connect birds to, in the words of Jan Cox, "the bosom of the mother." (He was talking about plants that cling, to earth, maybe I have stretched things too far with that picture.) Anyway feet are critically an aspect of avian reality, but they are not the motor of the species. And words are like bird feet, but most people assume that man's cerebral dimension is typified by words.  Most people never glimpse that man's ability to perceive reality involve words at the most mundane level. Words are critically important, but not the limit, not the glorious dimension that is a human potential, albeit a potential that cannot be gained, mechanically.

If you don't know what concentration is,

If you don't know what concentration is, how are you going to evaluate any possible fluctuations and analyze any possible significance?
The media of late (well since 2007) has raised the question of the effect of surfing the web on people's ability to concentrate.  However, the lack of an effective definition of concentration, one that focuses on it as an aspect of the human mind, and a potential power of the human mind, means that any investigation suffers from a confusion of terminology. Also the authors of these queries are focusing their speculation on too small a target, and so are doomed to fail.  They are looking at an individual mind, when such does not objectively exist. The rational binary, mechanical mind in the human species, does not exist to investigate questions of inner reality, and functions to rearrange the external world, to quote Jan Cox, loosely, and majorly, this binary mind serves to link the millions of people on the planet into a organism whose significant changes occur on a scale beyond that of an individual species, and at a level characterized by the epiphenomenal nature of verbiage. This is difficult to study since the survival of the organism needs every individual part to consider it's own cellular survival as crucial to the health of the larger organism.  A standard aspect of biological life.  

Have I gotten off the subject of concentration?  People do not know what concentration is, so again, their efforts to analyze the significance of the web, will not yield satisfactory results.  The average person has no clue about the nature of concentration, or the powers it can attain.  

Now spelling, that is a topic which needs to be analyzed in terms of the cyber changes we are participants of. It is not that texting and instant messaging has altered orthography. The interesting and perhaps minor thing is spell checkers. I used to be a marvelous speller. So vain was I of this ability that people did not hesitate to point out the lack of connection between spelling and intelligence.  I never used a computer spell checking program in document creation. Now though, with the built in spell checkers in email programs, I am so used to using it to find typos, that I never question my spelling and just accept whatever group of letters that make that red underlining disappear.  My native abilities in this field are fadding. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

No atheists in a black hole

The species of man apparently is designed to anticipate a deity. Although this does have an evolutionary advantage, saying this in no way explains the phenomenon, finding a point in the brain where such may be localized, in no way limits a cognitive significance to this fact about our species. Such are the views of reductionists and they cannot grasp how describing a closet from the inside does not effect an escape from the closet.  But the need for an escape is interesting, and built into the genome.  Now we are not going into the greater significance of this, merely pointing out what could be obvious from a rare perspective: that the simpler and hardest working of our species share with those widely considered at the high intelligence end of the spectrum -- they share an unexamined belief in a deity.  For the fisherman on a pier in rural Mississippi, and the laptop hunching scientist both believe, without any evidence, in a power superior to their own, a  stronger, faster, smarter --- power which -- still -- takes an interest in them.  Whether their idea is of a forgiving humanoid deity, or a cranky, humanoid with extra eyeballs, extra-terrestrial, the basic format is identical.  Only someone, with a perseverance in objective study of psychology and cosmology (to use the terms of Jan Cox), (who also pointed out that the idea of aliens is the idea of deity) might ask, and what does this tell us about people, about ourselves.  Let those clinging to their binary mind, talk of things of which they know nothing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Artificial mind

The New York Times today has an article about why the recent scientific feat of planting articial DNA into a living cell. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/science/01angi.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print

In it they quote Richard Feynman to the effect that if you don't build something, you don't understand it.  Which caught my attention, (in a very attention getting article) because Jan Cox mentioned this is his off hand way. I say Jan's words were offhand because everything he said had another non verbalizable purpose, as he spoke to students he hoped to point in a certain direction. Feynman's use, and most certainly the quote, (the quote both by the article and by the DNA artificer) is different, it is a throw away line, what Gurdjieff called smart aleck intellectualizing. The first time Feynman thought that phrase: If you don't build it, you don't understand it, he had a glimpse.  Then he said it again, he wrote it,and he did not have the real glimpse again and everybody reading it, thought yeah that's right, and totally missed the import of the phrase. Now it is said to sound cool, with it -- in the way scientists participate in that kind of verbal energy -- a pat on a paddle of a ping pong ball. Not fresh, not creative, not really seeing anything. 

The Times article talks about how we cannot create cells, yet, and how without the already extant cell, the implanting of artificial DNA would not have succeeded.  The DNA, with over a million steps, was copied from existing natural DNA.  So talk about creating life, so the article says, is not accurate. The article points out that the scientist involved did not design the million plus bases, merely copied them.  That scientist pointed out that he was not creating life, but his humility is phony, it is the way you are supposed to act, when you accept congratulations. He knows how to behave in public. 

This I point out to sketch the scientific mind.  With all the incredible progress made during the last five hundred years, the humility that characterizes the real giants of human progress, such as Isaac Newton, is uncommon even among that niche of the intelligentsia.
As an example, it is my guess that most scientists would say we are closer to understanding the major mysteries of the universe than we were during the European renaissance. It is possible however,  that compared to  the amount we do not understand, the amount of knowledge of the renaissance scientist, who thought the earth could not move because if it did move, people would fall off, and today's quark jugglers--the difference between what these folks, separated by centuries,  really know, is so small as to be, statistically insignificant.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Not all people who are happy, know.
All people who know, are happy

Monday, May 3, 2010

A scholarly look at the word scholar

Jan Cox said once that you cannot use a word correctly if you do not know its etymology. The example he used was the word "cakewalk." Learning about the Indo-European root of words like scholar, and hectic, gave me a glance of the connection between---scholar and hectic. The root of both 'scholar' and 'hectic' is the same indo-european word : "segh",  translated as "to hold." 

What I am today calling the monkey mind, which may be a eastern phrase itself, is the verbalizing aspect of the mechanical mind, generally assumed by modern scholars to be the most important function of the mind of man. What this monkey mind does, is hold--hang on to-- words, --- if it did not "hold" words, the monkey mind would glimpse something beyond itself.  If the monkey mind did not hold words, the words could become, transparent. So, for self preservation, and other reasons, this grasping of words is necessary and because of its necessity, is also hectic. 

The scholar must verbalize, (hold words) and must, doing so, at the very best, ignore other aspects of mind. This multiplicity of functions is one reason the scholar's monkey mind, is also---a hectic mind. The scholars mind must stay  full of words, while juggling various functions. Easy to see why scholars need words (as long as you don't immediately associate scholar with knowing something). The hectic comes too from the nature of words; words are pushy, loud, bumptious, with garish ties, --a fair description of words qua words. And this is all before you notice any connotative features. Hectic is a good word for ---words. 

This exposition acts like the the functioning of the monkey mind is difficult---that would be a misleading effect.  Our monkey mind is the default on the planet, the default for grown ups. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Philosophy can be a hobby, and that is the only excuse for the following.  We are looking into how it is that men apply different standards to themselves than they do to gods. If you are allergic to a certain kind of verbal vapidity, read no further. 

All this came back to me after reading a recent article discussing A. J. Ayer's so-called mystical experience.
This happened before certain chemical interactions and sites in the brain were the stuff of pocktail ponversation. (He died in 1988.) But now such accounts often get reductionistic comments along the lines of  a site in the brain that needs god, or whatever, a certain chemical has the same effects. Such "explanations" are worthless in that the same could be said about any experience, so pointing this out has no cognitive value. Because something might be programmed in the brain has no direct bearing on its ontological status. (Told you I was slumming. Jan Cox found such philosphical chatter amusing at best, useless at most.)

But this is fun, so let's talk about what the 20th century fondly referred to as the "verification principle.")
This was the idea that if you could not verify something  empirically your statement about whatever was nonsense. Ayer was a leading expositor of this idea.
(I haven't read enough to know how he explained metaphor.) But using this rationale the positivists threw out metaphysics.  Okay with any card carrying mystic.  And the threw out the past. Check. External world, need that. good. Hmm, maybe we are logical positivists after all. I. But wait---all this and you retain, not just the external world, (good) but you keep, that monkey in the skull, the chattering, oh let's call the rational mind, what, say, a "freddy." (No personal references here, freddy just has a certain simian similarity.) 

How did this happen, how is it that you are not bothered that the vp  (verification principle) itself  cannot be "verified." You are applying a different standard to god, than to man, is one way to put it.  Another way is to analyze the freddy for a certain regal, don't question my authority, aspect of the rational mind. 

When you lop off the past, philosophy (metaphysics), theology, and the subjective interior world, and leave just the monkey swinging behind bars, you could be accused of throwing out the ocean with the mermaid.
(For instance---there is nothing subjective about man's internal world----there is no accounting for human communication without assuming some similarity between minds. Because words referring to the external world do not apply internally does not deny the consistency and studyability of the interior side of man.)  It is like, having lopped theology off of reality, the chattering mind grabs some of its attributes for itself, like a coup de dieu. 

What the VP leaves is an incomprehensible world, with just a monkey clinging to a crown.  This leaves unexplained the critical structure of this mechanical mind, the filephilia of our kind of monkey, the motive for viewing reality as a table tennis table and asserting against all the evidence that this flat green table is all there is, as if it could hang suspended in (what?) and not evoke questions.  And what about those monkey bars? They in themselves (the reality of being confined in a physical space.) should provoke curiosity. To say nothing of a topology of humanity which includes such goings on in its so-called centers of learning.  (Ayer was Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford.) Least I submit to an agneurism, let's close with the thought of Thomas of Aquinas, the above
is just straws in the wind. (Too bad he wasted most of his life.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Placing Product Placement

The ordinary mind casually and comfortably draws a distinction between art and advertising.  For most the distinction is clear, no matter how clever and effective, and inspired, the advertising, -- the design of the advertisement may require a genius -- the fact of the purpose, which must hang out, typically, if the ad is to be effective at all, the fact that advertising is seeking to affect what the viewer does--- all this sights down a rift plane which most view as ultimate--that art and advertising are separate.
And that there is a distinction between art and advertising  is not what I would put under examination.  What I would point out is that first---what is the point of that aspect of advertising called product placement.  Is it not to hide the fact of the advertising, to render the advertising more effective, more likely to result in your doing what the ad purchaser desires?  Is it not possible that a whole movie be designed around one scene where the star ---- eats a particular brand of -- say, french fries. Perhaps you could conclude that the less prominent the purpose of the ad is, the more effective the advertisement is.
Of course the attention of the viewer must be retained. Hence the art that must go into product placement.  
It is almost as if the advertisers are learning from reality: what is it that maintains attention, hides its purpose, and (statistically speaking) universally succeeds? 
The answer is: the ordinary consciousness that characterizes all of us some of the time. The fact of the perspectival bias called 'me' is almost never noticed.  But the attention of the observer is, for all practical purposes, constantly maintained.  And due to the cleverness of the product placement,  the advertising hook is not noticed.  The advertising copy is that you are a unique and independent agent. Is it not possible that this belief, of one's autonomy, is just, a pitch?  A pitch made most sucessful by product placement within -- human consciousness. 
The pitch --is that there is no pitch.
And who is writing the copy, who is placing the ad, and why? 
The first thing must be, on a path of understanding, to perceive your prison.This sentiment was best expressed by Jan Cox.  If these larger questions cannot be answered, at least verbally, be aware of the part of the advertisement which says you must never admit you do not know something.  Who knows whether these larger questions can be verbally answered.  There are options you cannot even imagine from the viewpoint of ordinary consciousness. 
Just, now, toss around this idea, that your consciousness may be a site for product placement, and what this could mean. And what would it be like if your consciousness could, actually, become -- art.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Difference Between Physics and Philosophy

The Difference Between Physics and Philosophy could be phrased this way:
Philosophy (at it's purest, as in the radical empiricism of Jan Cox) is distinguishable from physics by the fact
philosophy has wheels.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Significance of Jan Cox

Regarding the historical significance of Jan Cox:
A man finds out what is going on. It happens through out history. What the man has, perhaps, found out is the nature of words. This is not how it would have always been phrased by those who know. You might say, the man has found out what knowing is. A wrinkle here, first noticed, to my knowledge, by Gurdjieff, is that how this is phrased, and how the learning occurs, is an aspect of an historical process. Gurdjieff talked about the physical man, the emotional man, the intellectual man. Since I am a little vague on the exact terms here, let me stress my point is just this: men learned differently in different eras. Jan talked about this: what was sufficient for the physical man is no longer enough to "wake up." Now the physical element of waking up, is subsumed in Jan's phrase: lateral expansion. Necessary, but not sufficient, for awakening. I am speaking now, not from personal knowledge, but from a recollection of the words of one who knew. This puts my input here, in a slightly different category than book learning. There is no word for it, (the quality of information) and I am not going to invent one now.
There are many many spiritual teachers now who have not appreciated this simple point about waking up in different centers. And there are plenty of books written by those who have stumbled into experiences which lead them to make assumptions about their own spiritual states. It is a mental awakening which is necessary for modern man. What is the difference you ask, men still have bodies, they still have emotional centers, shouldn't their experiences count as awakening. Their experiences count as data (so to speak) for a topology of mankind, yes. But the wrinkle in the carpet here, is that these spokesman for spiritual learning, they do not know how they got where they are. And by labeling it falsely, (that is, by using words) they diminish considerably the odds of their own further progress. Jan Cox put this point more vividly. It is on a tape someplace. The task for modern man is more complicated than that of earlier seekers.

Jan Cox understood this. Alone, in the second half of the twentieth century, it was Jan Cox who clearly saw what was needed for a person to progress in the only meaningful way possible for our species.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Science and Its Discontents

C. P. Snow made a career describing what he called the gulf between religion and science.  Nobody reads him much anymore, and that is mainly because that battle is over. That gulf may even, as one wag said, have never been more than a ditch anyway.

Still scientists seem not to have gotten the word. They spend as much time distancing themselves from the those intellects who feed on the fumes of the fast food wrappers that scientists leave, as they do denouncing religion.  In both cases one has to ask what is going on here.  

Why expend energy on denouncing the kooks and fundamentalists?  The evidence of quantum entanglement is not proof of mental telepathy.  Why waste your breath on denouncing such rooky thinking when there is the mystery of dark energy to occupy one's intellect. Nobody but the scientists takes certain fundamentalist preachers as exemplars of religion. And especially since there is a sociologically interesting class of intellects-- the scientific popularizers-- whose job it is to keep the borders of science pristine, why expend your energy in this direction. 

 What are they afraid of---an invasion of a faculty meeting by people waving diagrams of perpetual motion machines or rattling rosaries at them. .

I do not suggest there are not shades of gray here. Look at Perelman, declining the Field medal, the Nobel for mathematicians. I mean ---LOOK at his figure in photographs. Is he not the picture of a Russian staretz? (The holy men from the steppes of Czarist Russian).  

Nor is my intent to denigrate scientists, they are a critical portion of humanity, the mechanical brain in fact.

Still this wasteful use of humanity's brain cells, leads me to propose, just a thought, and probably not by any means a comprehensive explanation, but--- it is as if scientists are trying to forget, trying to obscure aspects of a planetary reality, wherein the distance between a scientist and a foil capped  kook, is so small as to be insignificant, compared to the cleavage plane between  a master of radical mysticism, and the natural scientists.

Evidence in favor of my idea is the questions scientists do not ask. Scientists never ask how come we have to continually rediscover man's lack of free will and then continually forget about it, they do not ask whether it is logical to take the most literal of spokesmen for religion and treat them as exemplars of philosphical and religious insight. They do not ask whether the lack of answers to childish prayers is a relevant consideration to one exploring the dimensions of humanity. The glaring inconsistencies and illogical approach to any survey of humanity, on the part of the scientific establishment, leads me to treat their behavior as a puzzle of the piece. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Habit of Royalty

Perhaps you wonder why purple is the color associated with royalty.  Some relate that it derives from an old dye used in the ancient world, but how could that explain the persistence of the color as emblematic of a ruling class.  The vision of spring color, that fresh minted quality, that is unique to latitudes where there are distinct seasons, is what brought up the question. Spring denotes a rebirth, a reassurance.  There is also perhaps a sense of excess, of extravagance in the flowers and blooms of that season.  Darwin in fact, said that nothing puzzled him more than how to explain the fact of flowering.  Royalty in the past was an inherited status, and nothing was less compelling to one of royal birth than the expectation that he or she needed to explain, to justify, their right to power.  A sublime sense of entitlement was the result and the potency of their genetic heritage.  An example of this, that Jan Cox pointed out, though in a different context, was the way that dispossessed royalty merely grouped on the border of their former territory, waiting the opportunity to regain control----giving up was simply not an option--it did not cross their minds.  In the color of purple, so predominant in spring blooming,  we see this sense of unearned glory, sheer celebration, and it occurred to me that this was parallel to the attitude of royal folk and might explain their preference for the color. 

What such a class did not comprehend was the idea of another kind of royalty, a mental, self minted, royalty which was always individual, never a group label. Both kinds of royalty share a disdain for verbal justification. And both are ultimately transitory. Only, though, the mental self-minted royal, builds in an awareness of the transitory. This recollection, of the vanishing, is not as obvious as the royal class insistence on dynastic succession, but it is more realistic. More realistic, and the opposite of a group royalty in that it must be, invisible, to the world.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Picture of spring

It's spring, and the cat sits at the foot of the tree. The cat is alert but still, quiet, even the twitching tail is still. So quiet. Why is this. The cat is waiting for some vernal creature. You could be the cat, and you would be waiting for ---- a word.... Waiting like this of course will be different for you and the cat. Your triumph is NOT catching something. For both of you patience and quiet will bring success.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

woods and words

One picture of the way words work is fence slats. You know, those
privacy fences. You walk or run by and you are aware of mainly of
these flat identical pieces of wood. How could that be like words?
Identical pieces of wood are like words? In a way words are like slat
of wood though, identical slats of wood. Because while there is a
small --what the philosphers call denotative value to words, (the
definitions, which you might say make words different) in fact words
have many other functions in the human economy, and these functions
--- maintaining a certain homeostatic stability in your psyche for
instance--- rely on aspects of words which are little observed or
analyzed. Words for instance function to insulate people, even
scientists, everybody in fact, beyond a certain age, from the actual
buzz and rush and constant motion of the world we share in. We could
not function if we paid attention to everything going on. What has
happened though (and Jan Cox discussed this a great length in his
books and papers) is that we have come to take words as if THEY were
the reality. Assuming words are reality is like eating a cereal box
for breakfast. You are missing the real fun of life. So when I say
words are like slats in a fence, it is to point out that between they
slats, if you can slow down, between the slats you get a glimpse of a
world you have forgotten, of color and light and wonder. Between the
words. Learning to look between the words is actually very difficult
and can take years, although some folks get a blessed glimpse
accidentally and this spurs them on investigate these events and
strive to make them reoccur. That at least is the way it seems in the
beginning. For everyone.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A 13th century straw, after 800 years

Picture a postage stamp, somehow mine is faded, purple, and cancelled,
but it can be any stamp. In your mind tear the stamp into as small of
pieces as possible. Still visible, and adhering to your finger tip.
Get out an exacto knife, put the smallest part of the stamp on a safe
surface, and slice a tinier piece of stamp. Barely visible to the
cutter. It is possible that all anyone knows, is about the size of
that partial postage piece.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Litcrit and metaphysics

T. S. Eliot in his  "Four Quartets," said "We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/will be to arrive where we started/and know the place for the first time."  He's dead and I am using his words to make a point about the modern mind, nothing about Eliot himself, or anything in any way personal.  But he wrote and people responded, the poem series referenced is widely acclaimed, and so a few points here about the world we live in may be appropriate, using his words as evidence.  For these words were spoken by the same person who famously announced he was Conservative, a Royalist, and Anglo Catholic.  He should have added he was a resident of bus stations, waiting for a bus to transport him.
One assumes his poetic descriptions derive from what some would call mystical experiences. He had  no one to point out how mystical experiences figure in a larger economy of mankind, and the whole weight of human history was against his figuring out for himself, --- that these so-called moments of religious, aritistic scientific discovery, cannot be labeled without hindering their return.  For what they denote is nothing that can be verbally labeled.  They in fact are like frosting, which could be a hint of other realities, but if discussed, these common human experiences, become categories and prevent one from discovering ---- the purity of cake. The frosting of these moments of insight can mean one is close to a doorway, they are not  really the finish.
The bus mode of transportation is the common verbal assumptions that allow people to assess their world. These shared assumptions largely veil actuality. If they studied the human propensity for mystical apprehension they would realize, as Gurdjieff noted (though not in these words) that these experiences have started as many wars as religions. 
Listen again to what Eliot said:
 "We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/will be to arrive where we started/and know the place for the first time.  Sounds fine, but knowing some place for the first time means not categorizing your perceptions verbally.  That it sounds okay, is because of all the literature Eliot read, not from any ability of his to grasp what it could mean to: know the place for the first time.
How can I be sure of this?  Eliot was aware, as were all artists between the wars, of the work of Georges Gurdjieff, who alone, with Jan Cox, sought to drag religion sticking and careening, so to speak, into the 20th century.  And these are the words Eliot used to discuss one of Gurdjieff's students and translators, A. R, Orage. Orage he wrote in an obituary was a "reckless religious adventurer."  So we can assume Orage learned enough to appreciate that whatever the real path is, the trodding of it is always, alone, on foot. No waiting at respectable bus stations for Orage. Part of the difficulty of finding the start of the path, much less how to proceed, is that, and again, Eliot is merely an example, but the words of the poets we take to be accurate descriptions, clues. So we recall them at certain times, and thereby risk cutting our own throats, if our goal is really to explore a new land, to "know the place for the first time."  Because that knowing must be non-verbal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Intelligence Works

Is it just a work story, about comparing a country to a person? I believe it is in general parlance, the picture of a country with workers, like a individual body, the king as the brain, and the heart, whatever--religion.
The recent obit on a Mossad operative, David Kimche (http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=63678) reminded me of this metaphor, because in intelligence work you see---- a great picture of intelligence as in the human brain intelligence, and the endeavor to see what is really going on. (that's those of us who are interested in the work of Jan Cox.) There is a country/body and to survive, just like any person, a inquiry into one's circumstances has an evolutionary advantage. So how do you find out what is happening in your surroundings? The lack of such knowledge could shorten your life---perhaps the country around you has some lizards that could sting you. You need to know where you are. 
The intelligence of intelligence is silent.  That is how the work is done.  You work without speaking/that is, drawing attention to yourself, without drawing attention to your goal.  That is the only way to discover your situation.  Like a spy, like a stranger is a country where the wrong word could mean death, your only real goal is to survive (see what is really going on) and there are no rules here. Survival authenticates itself. Did what you break a law? The only answer is , I am still here,  If you speak you lie. Jan Cox, and a few intelligence operatives knew this. The difference between Jan and these agents, is he knew the more difficult side of that---the critical nature of internal quiet.
The intelligence of intelligence is silent.  Only now can the dead body of a Mossad agent tell us something. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Inside Dope

We have all seen anatomical illustrations, drawings of the internal parts of the body. The textbooks fall open to those glossy pages of bodies we presume are comparable to our own. Yet it requires a concerted effort to beieve that you yourself, inside, look like those standing stretched figures missing skin. Progress in understanding the human body is a beautiful example of the human mind solving problems. It has often seemed to me though that we underestimate the progress made in medical affairs two thousand years ago. Too often these early practitioners are considered quacks, and this I strongly doubt. When the penalty for a patient's death was that the attending doctor was himself killed, it is unlikely that the doctor did not give his best attention and knowledge to the pending case. The names of early modern doctors who studied the workings of the body are well known, like William Harvey, who studied blood circulation. One reason progress was made was that bodies could be dissected and this did not, to my knowledge, happen before the European renaissance. Again--the triumph of science, pulling apart (to mention the Indo-European root of the word science) to see how the external world works.It would be a foolish person who spoke of progress in mystical affairs. Progress in human self understanding is also a dubious phrase if applied to more than an individual. Yet the directive of know thyself applies to those of us interested in understanding our species and world. Just as we study the outside world, we study our interior world. Though the quacks of modern philosophy would say the interiror experience is too subjective to count as science, Jan Cox merely pointed to his head, and said, "the laboratory is right here." Another picture Jan Cox drew of one's progress was that you alternated investigating the external and the internal worlds. What if the revelations a concerted attempt, (as if your life depended upon your success) with the proper tools, (not discussed in the present format) would bring about one's inner self, were---just a startling as those anatomy illustrations of skinless people? There may yet be a venue in which the scalpel is discussed. Certainly the writings of Jan Cox discuss the tools.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why is there no monsyllabic word for

that which is incomplete, incompleteness, the process of being
incomplete, and what is the verb for being partial,
(not as in prejudiced....), what is the verb for not whole (not as in
Everything in this category seems to be just a block-the whole, the
complete, with post it notes stuck on that say un, in....
and the less than complete, when specified, seems to have mainly
unsavory connotations.
Why is this?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

If People Were Cells in an Larger Organism

If people were cells in an organism called----called what, I will say
Humanity, though really I am not sure if there even is a better
descriptive term. Jan Cox, the radical philosopher spoke in these
terms, and they will serve our purposes now. If People were cells in
an organism called Humanity, how would we know, how would we know we
were cells in part of something larger.
Well, for one thing we would apparently take seriously apologies on
the part of public figures, Apologies for being human, even though,
what could there be to apologize for?? People who operated on the
basis of their intellect, (as everyone says they do, but if they
really DID.) would find it confusing that someone would say I'm sorry
for being what they are, and what everyone else is, and for doing what
everyone else does. No, this phenomenon makes most sense if it is an
aspect of processing happening on a larger level, a processing that is
only called morality at the blind level of an single cell.

And what if someone hits you, what if someone knocks over your stack
of blocks, and you get so mad you pay a huge amount of money, and
blood to extract revenge, to destroy these other people who hurt you.
You want to destroy these people who attacked. Okay, this makes sense
at the level of hormones and self preservation. But---why then do you
not do the sensible next step to destroying them, which is try to
understand why this other tribe would attack you. Would not
espionage,successful surveillance, all depend on your understanding
your enemy, yes, destroy them, but----to do this----you have to
understand them first. Yet that is the one thing we do not do---we do
not make a concerted effort to understand the motivations of those who
consider themselves our enemy. Surely that is the rational approach.
But if we were part of a larger organism, the idea that intellect
guides our actions may be a useful ploy, a means of transferring
energy. We might guess something like this is going on when we
exhaust ourselves, kill our young, spend our treasure, and still do
not do the obvious first thing to defeating our enemies, which first
thing is----understanding their viewpoint. The logical first step,
using our vaunted intellect, is exactly what does NOT happen, and
which is now, years later, still not even an option which can be
discussed publicly. What could be going on here??

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The crowdsourcing in your head

The quote below is from an article about what happened to a facebook group called Secret London:

'The explosion in the SL group is reflective of the generation online now. As Philippou says "Everyone of my generation is on Facebook. I'm 21 and have completely grown up in the online evironment. Time Out doesn't really connect with me on the Net. Things like crowdsourced content do."'

What struck me was that ---mainly---I finally got what the word crowdsourcing means and then MAINLY--
I noticed a thing that makes it so difficult to talk about what Jan Cox called "This Kind of Thing," which is
crowdsourcing.  But not the kind in the article, the kind in your head, where every thought is a crowd, and what you have to do, like looking between the slats on a fence, is --- see between the words, between the voices.
So, interestingly enough, crowdsourcnig is not new---the reason words are the unfootable  terrain thy are to the seeker, is because all words are crowdsourced.  A word that was single sourced would communicate nothing to another. How could it, you just made it up.  Hence the popularity of This Kind of Thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quoting from a quote

Connie Jones, the New Orleans cornetist working with Jack Teagarden at the time of the trombonist's death, was a pallbearer for the wake, held at a funeral parlor on leafy St. Charles Avenue: 'I remember seeing him there in a coffin, a travelling coffin. They were going to fly him to Los Angeles for burial right after that. The coffin was open and I remember thinking 'Boy he really looks uncomfortable in there'. "'Not that he was that tall. Maybe five foot ten or so, at most. But he was kinda wide across the shoulders - and most of all he just gave you the impression he was a big man, in every way. In that coffin, - well, I can't really explain it, but he seemed to be scrunched up into a space that was too small to contain him'

This quote of Connie Jones, about Jack Teagarden's body, not fitting into a coffin, made me think of words, and how they--words--can become a coffin. Do, for most folks. Words are coffins is kind of the default settings for humanity. It is hard to find the default settings, and once you do, and adjust the settings to "original thought," (your only chance) the developers do a mass reversal, and you have to start all over, finding the settings.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

and WHY was Prometheus a -- "thief"?

Why in the story of Prometheus stealing fire for mankind, stealing it from the gods, why was he labeled, a thief, why was the story structured so that the gift to humanity was something stolen? Perhaps you could say this was a reflection of what Jan Cox meant when he said when man developed an intellect, (got kicked out of the garden) he fell upstairs. Both stories involve crimes. Stil, what got me started on this was another aspect: because, Prometheus botched the job, had to of course---but he only got half the treasure, when you could say something else the gods had, was necessary for fire to be a gift, rather than fire being "hot" on multiple levels. In this reading Prometheus was a thief because he botched the job, he stole, not from the gods, but from Humanity.   And this would be, because, Prometheus only stole a tool that could be used EXTERNALLY, when as the gods knew well,  there was an internal world that need controlled ignition to be functioning at its highest level.
Crime, clumbsiness, makes me think of the big bang idea, that without some unimaginable small tremor in the explosion, the universe would be uniform, an identical soup in all directions, rather than diverse with planets and space, and different colors of matter.  Just a thought...

In Greek the word for spirit and wind is the same

Catching a ride on adjacent natural events got man started on the road
to civilization. He used a forest fire to cook his dinner. A river to
bath in, a cave to duck into for shelter. Is it any wonder the Greeks
spoke of four elements: earth air fire water. (I think those were
their elements.) And gradually he learned to manipulate these powers
which all had the power to destroy him physically. Prometheus was
considered a man who stole from the gods. What we forgot was that he
stole just a bit of the godlike powers. Crucial to man, fire for the
gods was just a crumb of the cake of their powers. Now man considers
he knows the full formula for energy. He would not admit this, science
he says, has not YET fully revealed the secrets of the universe, but
really, that is his defacto belief. Without this faith in his own
powers, man would not act upon them, and thus his formulas would not
have led mankind on the path history reveals. He had to believe his
insight was in fact, the whole picture.

All this is looking outward. Actually man is part of a flow of earth,
air, fire, water, and every breath he takes is proof of this
commingling. Man forgets his own partialness and partness of
everything and this forgetting disables him--disables his need to
understand himself. The inward life of man has a potential for being
understood and, to some extent, harnessed; there are internal energies
which can be used for a kind of ignition. Of these the scientist
knows nothing, and in fact, actively, often, discourages these

Many of these internal investigations are absurd. But as Jan Cox
reminded his students, the counterfeit would not exist were it not for
real gold. (This is one of the few times he quoted another.) One
hesitates to even call these internal quests spiritual, considering
the abuses of the word religion which dominate the intellectual
landscape of modern man.

The task --to grasp and harness if not totally control, internal
energy flows--though is not just legitimate, it is crucial, for a few.
It is obviously not necessary for most people and this fact may
perhaps reflect larger energy flows and needs which man cannot
comprehend. That does not answer the question of why so few people
are drawn to, the Real Work. An answer to this question was written
down long ago, and it is a good of an answer as this person knows: The
wind bloweth where it listeth.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Piss Them Ologies

Google has a program they hoped would compete with wikipedia. They named it Knol, which they say is a unit of knowledge. Is knowledge something composed of units, like bricks, to put together and make a wall? Students of Jan Cox will recall him saying, and elucidating, that "everything is connected." But this essay is concerned with how to convey this to people unfamiliar with basic epistemological concerns.  I am beginning to think the important questions are epistemological, rather than say, ontological, but----that is not the focus now.  How we know, what we know, that is epistemology.  The idea of knowledge composed of units has a certain obviousness.  We're young, we gather bits, like alphabet blocks, and when we get bigger we have a bunch of bits, and can converse and know stuff.
But---can we discover anything, can we add to the sum of Humanity's knowledge, can we ask basic questions, can we, in effect, know in the sense of originality, of real change, while playing with these bits, these units, that others have defined?
There are advantages to knowledge as composed of bits.  It avoids the skepticism that comes from recognizing, glimpsing that one thing affects another, because then you have to say, is this another unit of knowledge, this connection? And don't you get, this way, such a huge pile of bits that they are uncountable, and unmanageable, daunting regardless of the realms of mathematics marshalled to ride herd on these bits.  Or could a glimpse of this chaos be, exciting...fun...knowledge at a new level.
One advantage of knowledge as units, is this picture also fits our experience, we open a book, and find out that scientists used to rob graveyards to get bodies to study anatomy.  They, another nit, (is that short for unit, no, it's a typo, and I am not going to continue calling units, nits) called this practise, of getting corpse, 'burking." Another unit to stack on top of the first.
But--is this--- knowledge? I never stole a corpse, a whole planet of detail is hidden in these words, and obscured by putting a period at the end of the sentence, and the persuasiveness of everybody else agreeing this is a fact.
Would real knowledge involve questioning all assumptions, and resolutely trying to follow what you see; would knowledge involve an element necessarily of character, in bravely facing consequences?
Would knowledge involve internal change?
I merely raise these questions now. 
Let us close with an example. A king rules over several countries.  He says, Abalonia is my country. If there are at that moment, insurgents in neighboring Clambakia, planning an invasion to assist their brothers in musselhood, to what extent is that king ignorant? Did he ever know anything? If he keeps or loses that country after some external actions, how does that future outcome, affect what he knows, now. It is just a question.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not a Thought, But Thinking Itself

...Interview with a leading American writer, a commentator on global
culture, a professor at Wharton University and it gives us a marvelous
example of the mechanical mind. This is not about ideas, and that is
why I mention a living writer here, my point has nothing to do with
his ideas, I find them interesting in fact. No, my point here, is how
the author of The Empathic Civilization, (just out, do go buy a copy)
illustrates, not an idea, not a type of thinking, but thinking itself.
I am using Rifkin here merely as an example of how everyone's mind
operates. Rifkin's thesis in his new book is that mankind, is not by
nature, violent, no, rather, he argues, humanity is born a social
animal. You listen and it slips right by you----Why exactly must man
be one or the other? He is both, a violent creature and a social
creature. One does not rule out the other,
unless, of course, you are limited to the ordinary human thinking functions.

Rifkin is arguing on a binary basis, if man is not that, then man
must be this. This is the basis of the mechanical mind, it is not the
full measure of the human mind, but it is the mechanical processing of
the mechanical mind, that has given us scientific progress. The
Indo-European root of the word science is a verb meaning to pull
apart, and this is necessary if man is to rearrange his external
world. This ability of the mechanical mind to imagine how things might
be different than they are, as we look out at the world, has allowed
human civilization to develop. An example Jan Cox used to make this
point, is of routing water up hill. You take apart the present picture
and imagine how it might be otherwise, with water mills, for instance.

But the beauty of the mechanical mind, need not limit us to thinking
the mind must be this or that, mechanical or, mechanical and something
more. The mind of our species has potentials which are not commonly
recognised. One of these talents, is, in the words of Jan Cox, the
potential to think beyond the number two.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Distinction

Seekers of whatever stripe and whenever time likely start on the path commonly called, the mystic quest, looking for----magic.  Magic---that the fundamentals of reality can be...changed.  The glory of what Jan Cox saw,  and cared to help others also see...is the glory of What IS... Simply to see what is.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This question is not about irony

How strange is it, that the most imaginary of man's creations, evokes the bloodiest of responses? I am thinking of religion and the wars we needn't list.  Jan Cox said once the contemporary religion was not just dead, but stinking.  This was decades ago that he used those terms.  So perhaps I am just caught up in the moment, since his terminology would suggest an evolutionary aspect to religion.  I am not confident I have exhausted the topic: how is it that the most made up is that which makes men kill the fastest.  One thought that  occurs is the need to protect that which one detects (the hollow sound of certain wood when rapped) is false.  Yet these people seem so sincere----(always a bad sign of course.)  Or...and...when hormones need to rage for unstateable reasons, they get to rage least encumbered when raging about religion.
These events will subside, and men will, after the fact,  pretend they have a grasp of what happened.  And the intellectuals will never notice that these fictions almost utterly obscure  thrilling and astounding dynamisms, discoverable through mere objectivity.

Other cultures seem to have a better grasp on basic realities. I just found this quote from a 16th century Japanese writer, named  Ikoma Chikamasa:

Fooled into believing Heaven and Hell are not fake
Some people rejoice and some people quake.

That's the 1500s.  I have no clue about the life cycle of religions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Touring the tourist

So what is going on with these Presidential, or royal, tours of
disaster scenes? It is not a fresh idea to compare a person to a
country: you have the brain,---the governing class, running things,
you have the heart/ belly, middle class, the emotions,giving the
whole a reason to live, and you have the feet, the workers, who
actually get anything done. Nothing new in this picture really. What
got me started on a query was the universalness of a certain behavior
on the part of the king/ president, and that is---they tour the
disaster area. Their tours are always on the news. If they don't
make this visit, they are chided as 'out of touch.' Yet what is going
on here, the president does not have ministers he trusts to report
back with accurate details on what is happening? He can't look at news
photos? What--he doesn't have CNN? Why is it mandatory that the leader
go in person to the disaster area?

Because he likes to, that's why. It is fun to tour disaster areas as
long as you are up in a helicopter, and know that when you land on the
tarmac, there will be an audience to wave to, there will be reporters
eager to capture your words, there will be a clean warm dry distance
from what you have seen. Of course it's fun. Road Trip!!!! You get
to see what holds the potential for something new, something
unexpected, something different from your everyday routines--in the
toppled buildings beneath you--, without ever being in danger of
learning anything. The opportunities for the refreshments of the new--
where there is no chance to be drawn into any self examination -- are
not so common. The royal tour of the disaster area is popular because
the fun has such a low price. You are literally looking outward, and
there is a relief, though an unrecognized relief, in being able to do
what is necessary for your continuance in power AND get the reward of
having fun.

As with the president, so with the mechanical mind---the, ahem,
governing body. The mind insists on only looking outward, at a
certain point in its growth. This is for reasons of self-preservation,
a governing motive with those in power, and with that cerebral
distinctiveness of our species, the sapiens part. Just like Stalin,
self preservation comes first, and if self preservation is the only
thing, well, so bit. The mature mind really cannot admit it doesn't
know stuff. The metaphor falls apart of course when you consider the
effectiveness of a dictator compared with the effectiveness of binary
mechanical thought. But that is not really the point in this little

The mind looks out, and refuses to look inward: there is no
questioning, no increase in knowledge which comes from being open to
novelty, to say nothing of the quest of a few for real answers in the
"blooming confusion" to quote William James, which defines the
intellectual life. You can see this writ large in 20th century
philosophy which threw out metaphysics, for positivism. Just tossed
it out. Now when Jan Cox, one of the few real thinkers of the last
century, said, "if you can't touch it, it's not real, " that is
metaphysics, but he could say that because he had plumbed the shallows
of ordinary intellectual endeavors. He laughed at the thought that
modern science disregarded the inner life. In your head, he would
point, is your laboratory for, in his words, "doing this thing."

But 20th century philosophy is just one example of the intellect
looking outward, and only, outward.I hope though that it gives some
sense to my thoughts about touring the tourist--appreciating the
nature of the mechanical mind as we strive to see in ourselves, a good
example of that tourist, and press our quest to determine what else
may be inside, besides, the binary mind.