Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Revolting revolts

Ever read a history book? Ever felt reassured by those explanations of say, the Russian revolution---the privations and inadequate leadership in the war with Germany....da da. da da. pushed the people to the brink of revolt?
The best explanations are but beads on a string, moments lined up in an order, and then pronounced, "an explanation." Can we step back a minute?

In 1381 (now there is a historic sounding date) peasants revolted in England. We read that later: "Polish...peasants killed over 1000 noblemen and destroyed 474 manors in 1846." And this is just the iceberg of the tip. There are always oppressed classes, there is always stupid leadership. Always. So an explanation would minimally, have to say why, in the midst of oppressed classes, the revolt took place when it did. 

When the president of the United States says, (words to this effect,) what is the matter with those bankers? don't they understand I am the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks?, we hear the words of a man who believes in intelligence, who believes in historical explanations. There may be alternative understandings for those with a peculiar intent. 

Gurdjieff refers to the conditions leading to political revolt as needing a certain wave of mystical experiences in the population. Jan Cox referred  to history being dreams. (I daresay he meant historical 'explanations'.)

My point is not that there is no understanding these phenomena. But that an interesting explanation would need to have a sense of the complexity of human reality, a complexity lacking in the intellectual classes. 

Such a complexity cannot be pursued linearly. A progress that countenances real complexity is pursued at the level of both cosmology and psychology, to use the words of Jan Cox. That is, one studies one's inner world and the outer world both, in an ongoing fashion. The question of method is not something one would discuss in a public forum, however. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Garrison Keillors selection of poem for his Writer's Almanac on July 31, 2011

You don't believe

by William Blake

You don't believe — I won't attempt to make ye.
You are asleep — I won't attempt to wake ye.
Sleep on, sleep on, while in your pleasant dreams
Of reason you may drink of life's clear streams
Reason and Newton, they are quite two things,
For so the swallow and the sparrow sings.
Reason says 'Miracle', Newton says 'Doubt'.
Aye, that's the way to make all Nature out:
Doubt, doubt, and don't believe without experiment.
That is the very thing that Jesus meant
When he said: 'Only believe." Believe and try,
Try, try, and never mind the reason why.