Saturday, December 29, 2012

Link Love

Many commentators discuss how the internet is making people stupider. This easy observation has evidence for it, and yet misses the point and actual growth dynamic of which cyberspace is merely a symptom. That is a topic to be sketched more fully at some later date. 
But since a basic characteristic of stupidity is thinking you know something you do not, I cannot resist pointing out how much easier it is now to appear well-informed rather than actually be well-informed.  In the older olden days, before we were even a speck in anyone's eye, people could create a visual demonstration of their intellectual interests. The book shelves weighed down with books which could be taken in at a glance. The faded colored bindings hardly need their titles to be scanned to convey a picture of their seriously intellectual owner. As Jan Cox pointed out, this common practise, says nothing about whether the books are actually read. Most likely they are not, they exist to bolster the self-image of their owner.

Now you can do that with much less effort. I call it link love. You do not have to expend money at all, certainly not on books, on book cases, on floor space for such furniture. Now you can save money and convey the same impression, of an intellectual gravity which may, very well may, be unearned. I refer to the artfully referenced link to a certain subject, or even to a list of links regarding some topic. You needn't even spend money or TIME, creating this impression: you use a search engine to compile a list, find an apt sounding reference. As with everything modern, creating a good impression is easier now. The timeless of course bolsters, nourishes, invisibly, and can temporarily be disregarded. The dimensions of reality  continue fresh with an attitude to constantly learn more. Such makes referencing links trivial. 

Jan's point about books made the same point I do here, analyzing not -- links, but the use of links among ordinary people. You cannot put your credibility in the cloud, you cannot put it in the eyes of your peers. You cannot put ii in any interior speech or picture. You can only put a real worth in a quiet place, where 
no one 
see it.

But that realization of course does require effort. As Jan Cox said decades ago; I call this enterprise the W.O.R.K., because that is what it is--- work. Not a job for the ordinary.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How We Forget, (an example)

The interesting topic today is superficially about a subject Jan Cox found  enthralling,  as indeed, he found all things he encountered or sought out, worth pursuing to understand how they work. I refer to cellular structure. 

The link below is to an article discussing a new approach to understanding the cell. This approach involves taking old but valuable words, and giving them new antithetical definitions. When this happens, especially at the rarified intellectual level, the loss in the possibilities of learning may outweigh any gains. At least in this article, and the part I will quote, there is an  awareness of the shift, though not the significance of it.

So from the article at this link,

we excerpt--

"What's new about our ontology is that it is created automatically from large datasets. In this way, we see not only what is already known, but also potentially new biological components and processes – the bases for new hypotheses," said Dutkowski.

Originally devised by philosophers attempting to explain the nature of existence, ontologies are now broadly used to encapsulate everything known about a subject in a hierarchy of terms and relationships. Intelligent information systems, such as iPhone's Siri, are built on ontologies to enable reasoning about the real world. Ontologies are also used by scientists to structure knowledge about subjects like taxonomy, anatomy and development, bioactive compounds, disease and clinical diagnosis.

The original purpose, the whole inquiry, denoted by the word ontology, is lost. 
How now should we inquire about existence per se?  Now instead of the edges, the source of existence itself, we mean, if we are a scientist, simply, that which is known about a topic. Any exploration must happen within a verbal framework.

This loss happened before the new approach outlined in the article to which we link. Still, this misuse of a valuable tool, the word, 'ontology', makes any recovery of the original purpose even more challenging. Insights are lost. Yes, the crucial insights must always be won again, by the individual knower. Yes words are a hindrance in real effort. Yet, it helps to be able to point, to have certain words. You never communicate to another, over any expanse of time, without -- words. Even if, as with the works of Jan Cox, what is being communicated, is the ways verbalizations can hinder, sincere effort. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pig Man

This quote from a wikipedia article about a religious figure is relevant in our discussions here about the mysticism of Jan Cox. It is relevant because of the etymology of Swithin, Jan said that if you did not understand the etymology of a word you did not understand the word. I point to the meaning of pig man for this saint. It may reflect a genuine apprehension of what is necessary to continue on the path Jan Cox pointed to.

Swithun (or SwithinOld EnglishSwīþhūn; died c. 862) was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working. According to tradition, the weather on his feast day (15 July) will continue for forty days. The precise meaning and origin of St Swithin's name is unknown, but it is largely considered to mean 'Pig Man'.[1] Another possible meaning is "strong".

Monday, December 3, 2012

Platonic perfection and plastic saucers

How man came up with words and writing is a topic some find fascinating and no doubt part of that is the insoluble aspect to the question. But seeing the full moon, made me wonder if our planet had had no moon, would the lack of what seems a perfect sphere, in a world so obviously not, have resulted in our missing this -- a lack impossible to imagine, that we never made the evolutionary leap, to a cerebral stage. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Praise Of, uh, modern culture

One of the most elusive and complex aspects of the great machinery, is the role of the destructive flow in the happening and processing of levels of the great machinery, as Jan Cox called it. There can be no real criticism of, selfish rich people, political tyrannies, once the nature of how the world works is glimpsed. 

Along these lines is the role of imagination. If there is one thing that unites the variety of schools descendent of Gurdjieff it is that identification is a negative thing. Yet let us step back a moment. What may be a stumbling block for the earnest inquirer, could well be, on a larger scale, a critical component of progress. An example of this may be novels. Surely a sober perspective would scrutinize this wanton leap into total imagination, that leap that happens when you open a book of fiction, or tune in some dramatic series. In these circumstances there is no distance between one's attention and the washing machine jumble of externally controlled fantasy. 

And yet, looking at the history of the last few centuries, a characteristic would be just this loosening of imagination, these circumstances and intent which encourage man to live more in utter fantasy. It does not exhaust the subject to remind readers that Jan Cox pointed out how imagination was critical to scientific progress because such imagination allows a rearrangement of the external world, as a guide to what and how things can be changed.

My own assessment of this major characteristic of modernity was that the enormous increase in the flow of imagination was necessary to sop up the extra time now available on the local cerebral level. Now something else is clear.

So far my thoughts are just an elaboration of Jan's point. My point is, as the machinery becomes more complex, and the evolution of Humanity quickens, (another of Jan's points, though he always said these changes were invisible at the life span of an individual), that this evolution is requiring a greater cerebral percolation of imagination. 

My fresh enhancement of this intellectual perspective, is that this growth of imagination must be of major importance to our group survival. And -- that the blindness imagination encourages, is necessary, to actually bring about changes in the external world. Any real grasp of what is going on, might be so alarming as to be debilitating. The machinery as a whole needs this blindness to facilitate change. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Where the action really is

The article excerpted below hightlights a point Jan Cox made. That processing is necessary for the human brain to assign a meaning to anything.

Matt Dickinson, author of the Mortal Chaos series and one of the Brits who has reached the summit of Mount Everest, offered a surprising insight into life on top of the world once when we met. He said: "When you get up to the very top of Mount Everest there is a remarkable amount of rubbish that has been left behind - old rope, discarded oxygen cylinders, broken tents, beer cans and bottles."

A group of artists have now turned eight tonnes of this trash - including the remains of a helicopter - into works of art and sculpture to highlight the issue of littering on the slopes of Everest. It took 65 porters and 75 yaks to carry down the rubbish from the mountain over two Spring expeditions.

The exhibition of 75 pieces commissioned for the 'Everest 8848 Art Project' is on display in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu before it moves to Pokhara next week.

Project organiser Kripa Rana Shahi said: "We thought that this would help promote the artists as well as contribute to making Everest clean. We were happy to get the trash and (the waste collectors) were happy to get rid of it."

Fifteen Nepalese artists spent a month preparing pieces for the exhibition. In one of the works, by painter and poet Sunita Rana, white shards of aluminium from drinks cans are fashioned into medals signifying the bravery of mountaineers, while black metal tent poles are transformed into a wind chime

Jan's point was that a sincere quester would look NOT the "to" or the "fro", of living, but the inbetween. Not the Everest peak, or Kathmandu, but the trip itself. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The difference between Jan Cox and the best of academe

 Strunk and White  advised writers to "omit needless words,"  when addressing others. Jan Cox said to "omit words" addressing yourself. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Paucity of Positive Thinking

The Paucity of Positive Thinking is the paucity of all thinking.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beacon of Dark

It is interesting how when Humanity has some new form, or function, the new option is, itself, before evolving with use, turned on its head. Afterwards the newness of the new function is forgotten. But right after birth, there is a phase where  the new something is tossed around, held upside down and shaken, and generally, objectively, examined. 

Things I am talking include the work of the novelist Laurence Sterne -- particularly his novel : Tristram Shandy. The novel, was a new form in the 18th century. People say the novel was born in classical myths, in medieval tales, and yet, when we talk of the novel as a form, we mean something of which man, a psychological entity, separable from his surroundings, is the star. This whole notion may be analyzed for its accuracy, but now, that would be a diversion from my point. The novel, published in full by 1767, both invents and exhausts, the form, before it has even become a --  formula. Tristram Shandy parodies the whole idea, of taking an individual and making his life events, to be of some interest, in a linguistic, linear, form. 

This kind of birth, where something new is shaken, turned upside down and thoroughly examined,  before being commonly used, is similar to what happened when man acquired language. One might assume these births of the novel would proceed with learning and examination of the options slowly evolving with use and time. Such was not the case with Sterne and also not the case with human language.  This birth of human language one may easily imagine necessitated millenia to occur. So my focus is on that shaking examination of mind itself, soon after rational discourse was brought on stage, which is evidenced in what we now call--- the Paradoxes of Zeno. 

These are remembered today, the most common perhaps, that proving that motion cannot occur. At least such is a common description now, of Zeno's point. An example was that if, with each step, you covered half the remaining distance to your goal, you, would never get to the goal. Actually Zeno's knew quite well that motion was part of human, planetary reality. What Zeno wanted to show was the limitations of language as a tool. He used language itself to prove the inadequacy of words. Such an astounding feat did he accomplish that his deathless reputation is not a surprise. Nor, to someone acquainted with human nature, is the misunderstanding of Zeno's purpose.  Motion occurs, language cannot capture it. Our modern world utterly misunderstands Zeno's point about the limitation of language. Modern popularizers of science typically assumes language not just sufficient, but the sole guarantor of reason. Yet Zeno's insights are not out of reach for the empirical among us today. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Courting more than black rectangles

The tennis courts in the park remind me of the verbal mind, that is, the ordinary, binary mind. This incredible, necessary, dimension to our life, remains at the same time, a hindrance to efforts to persistently inhabit a less asphalt ruled surface. An impediment to an aural dimension where the whop of the bop bop balls drowns the bird melodies and grasshopper hums. Without the linguistic domineering of the mechanical mind, men in crowds could not progress. The individual though must win a grassy verge with none of the jolliness of company. So it has been, and it is hard to imagine how that hard blade would change. That any purchase at all is pertinant is enough of a joy. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Paradox or Parable

A review of Jim Al-Khalili's new book, Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, points to an apparently superficial summary of certain aspects of modern thought. The review though gave me a new way to focus on the question of the difference between that aspect of the material world we denote as consciousness, and that, aspect we, less problematically, call the physical world. This is an ongoing puzzle, that may never be resolved, but lots of fun to think about: the difference between consciousness and other aspects of the world we encounter. Our apprehension of the so-called external world is mainly communicable through the rational mind, and for my present purposes, the ordinary. binary mind of man, that allows him to alphabetize, and otherwise. divvy up the external, is thrown into contrast with pure consciousness, an awareness not focused on a particular object. From a cognitive point of view this could point to the difference between the physical and the mental, though we are speaking loosely.

The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics, has a chapter on the paradoxes of the philosopher Zeno. These are typified by the one which says if you move towards a destination by having each step cover half the distance, you will never arrive at your destination. This is supposed to show how motion is impossible. 

What occurred to me is that what we have here is the difference between the consciousness of man, and one aspect of that consciousness, -- rational thought. What I like about this perspective is that it points to the necessity for complications in man's mental functioning, beyond the the rational, binary, aspect, that part we often call the rational mind. The paradox is less pungent when you realize that the apprehension of motion needs both binary thought and a wider consciousness extant constantly. This wider consciousness, is apparently necessary all the time, for man's comprehension. This is not the majority view of 20th century philosophy, focused as it was on linguistics. The solution to this paradox -- motion is impossible, and yet exists -- was within and about us, all the time. 

What Zeno meant, to demonstrate the limitations of rational thought,  was a paradox and is now a parable. There are at least two, aspects to consciousness-- that which divides (that is, the rational mind) and that which unifies, unifies human perception, and awareness.

The above paragraphs hardly explain the unity the human mind demonstrates, but hints I hope at the necessity of two necessary dimensions each second that mind is alert. I would not want to suggest that two is a confining condition.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Less or more

Could we comparatively rank the natural scientist and the persistent mystic? One looks at stuff, the other between the stuff. The latter draws mo boundaries because there are none, the former know nothing of the latter, and could not work if they did. So together they are one molecule.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sometimes a headline is enough

Our comments today are inspired by a news item about physical inactivity as a "pandemic" situation.
"Physical inactivity – A worldwide pandemic". The headline was enough for me to know there was no glimpse of the facts of the situation in this news. For the spreading arses actually reflect a rising intelligence. Not individual intelligence. NOT the IQ of some person. But the intelligence which may be said to characterize humanity as a whole.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nobody said it would be hard

Christopher Howse, on Augus t 31, 2012, published a column entitled, 
"Big question from Stephen Hawking."

Christopher Howse is a religion columnist at the British newspaper, The Telegraph. I read him a lot, usually I learn something fun. This recent column about the questions of science reminded me of a recent perspective that Neil DeGrasse Tyson led me to. Tyson was repeating a common complaint among scientists, and he put it this way, (not an exact quote though) We don't know what happened before the big bang, but the religious people take this and say, aha, that proves there is a god.

Tyson and I say, Nah, this gap, PROVES, not a thing. And boy, is this logic prevalent in the religious press. My plan for this column is to just quote the questions Howse brings up, and at the end, let me have another go at explaining why these gaps in science do not prove anything at all. Oh, you can find the edge of the gap, and look and listen. But you cannot from this, say, here is an answer. Here is Howse with ellipses:

..."Ever since the dawn of civilisation, people have craved an understanding of the underlying order of the world," Stephen Hawking said. "Why it is as it is and why it exists at all." The answers keep changing.

According to Saul Perlmutter, a winner of the Nobel prize last year, the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate because of an entity called dark energy. A generation ago, the orthodoxy was that the expansion of the universe was slowing down.

The uncertainty of facts about the physical world makes it hard for those who hope to use them to prove the existence of God. ....

In setting out to prove God's existence, however, the task is not to say something extra about the universe. The God whose existence is to be proved, or disproved, is not part of the universe. If God by nature could be seen, he would lack the attributes that are part and parcel of what we mean by God.

Thus the infinity of God is not the mathematical infinity of time and space (whether it is "curved" or not). The kinds of infinity applicable to God are unlimited intellect, will (love) and power. Nor is God a cause in the universe like other secondary causes. He is the cause of the cosmos in the sense of explaining "why it exists at all" in Professor Hawking's words. God is called transcendent because he is not in the universe as one object among many. He is called immanent because he is intimately present to the cosmos as the cause of every bit of it existing.

So, to prove God's existence from traces that he leaves in the universe would not be like detecting dark energy.... Instead of inventing a sensitive meter to detect the presence of God, the argument has to proceed by examining metaphysical truths about the universe.

The universe seems very nicely arranged, for a start – with an "underlying order" as Professor Hawking notes. So what accounts for things, far and near, falling into patterns?

Then, to explain "why it exists at all" is not just to find a starting point, as if the Big Bang was someone lighting the blue touch-paper. Aristotle was happy to think it had always been there; some cosmologists draw an elegant graph in which space and time start at the same point. Neither view explains why there is anything there.

I suspect an argument can be constructed based on the intelligibility of things. It is not just that oxygen behaves the same way here as at 8.5 billion light years away. It is that material things can be known rationally. We do not just bump into them, we understand them, identify them as kinds of things, and use them.

As far as our poor minds go, understanding the principles of things is an ability to form universal concepts: not just an impression of a squawking feathery mass but of a kind of thing called a chicken. As far as things themselves go, they must have properties than can be understood.

....principles in things that correspond to our conception of them. ....logos, ...the name of one universal Word or principle that was there in the beginning.

Finished with quoting Howse. My point was to stress he saw answers as possible, answers expressed verbally.

Perhaps the quote was over long for my point, but I guess I am still entranced by the aspects which have apparently been accepted uncritically by the theologians. I count Howse as the best the theologians have to offer. Nothing above in his words lead me to think he has a clue about what an answer could consist of. You can stress the inadequacies of science, and they are legion. I like to put it simply that scientists are not empirical, enough. But Howse looks for answers---answers that can be put into words. That will not work from any kind of astute, inquiring perspective. Yes I am saying that the answers cannot be put into words. And what then would I be writing anything for. Because there are realities that cannot be summed up in words. In fact, and this is a point for another day, but it is obvious that there are realities that cannot be put into words. 

To phrase it this way, to point, the way Gurdjieff and Jan Cox, were tilting their heads, --over here. Questions are in a format like this --- words_words_words.  Answers are assumed to be in a comparable order-- word! words! words!  

NO NO NO. Words cannot be the answer, words cannot convey-- the answer. Words are a big part of the problem. Not certain words, words themselves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Too Vague To Fail

This would not be a final answer, but something at last,  occurred to me in reference to an odd aspect of the human intellect. This feature of human mentation is prominent, and yet, almost never noticed. 

The aspect of man's thinking I point to is it's ability to stop sharply when the trail is just getting interesting. Everybody does this, -- the point in an argument when a woman says I don't want to talk about it, when the man says, I think this interview is over.

The characteristic of the rational faculties to which I refer is part of the phemomenon described by the great philisophico-mystics of the 20 th century--- Georges Gurdjieff and Jan Cox, in these terms---man's sleeping condition. And yet our focus is on a narrow stripe in this level of consciousness. 

Man's dreaming state, his automatic functioning at the intellectual level, includes this ability to avert attention at a certain point. This point one has to assume involves the self-preservation of the sleeping consciousness, a kind of way when you are in a dream, to prolong the dream. 

The universality of what I have noticed in man's mentation points to its being a basic aspect of the dream state. Perhaps I should point out in case anyone readng this is unfamiliar with the thinkers I mention above, this sleeping state is absolutely necessary to man's progress. That though is not the point here, and what I want to do is stress the universal aspect of this trick of sleeping mentation, by pointing out the phenomenon as it exists in the general intellectual climate, the academic and scientific cloud which defines major modern mechanical intellectual progress. 

The physicist who says, when asked about how empty space could generate particles, well, that space is "almost empty." The fellow reveals himself to be lacking basic philisophical comprehension if he thinks this is an answer. But this response allows the duller blades in the scientific cabinet to carry on ignoring a basic philosophical query: how is it that something comes from nothing. 

The philosopher who contends, as is common in the past century, that something cannot be true, if it cannot externally verified in a public, repetitive process, is on the same level as a Bible thumper when it comes to neuronal alacrity. I say this because the basic premise of the positivist's position cannot itself be verified according to the dictum of what is called the verification principle. Again, a line is drawn in the gray goo, and the mechanical mind cannot be coaxed to pursue it's intellectual inquiries in a consistent and empirical matter.

From the perspective of those Eliot called "reckless religious adventurers" (referring to Gurdjieff) where you draw the line is irrelevant as long as you refuse to pursue intellectual questions careless of the consequences to  your own intellectual presumptions. That refusal to continue with the  questioning is typical of the man who answers a question with 'because the bible says so', as well as the man who rejects a report with the assertion some purported event is a statistical anomaly. 

So the above paragraphs are a setup to what occurred to me just now, about what has long been a puzzling feature of man's mechanical intellect. This general ability to come to a screeching halt, functions to maintain balance within that phenomenon called Humanity of course. The point is not that this ability to shutdown one's intellect is not functional. What occurred to me though was that this self-regulating thermostatic aspect of human mentation is a self protective device so that man does not despair in the face of the certainty of his own impending death.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The train is so loud and noisy

Metal on metal, screeching with a regular irregularity, as the rail cars rush on by, metal tracks, metal braces, metal hitchs, metal wheels. You cannot stop the train with your hands, you can only step away.

And as you back away, internally, from  ---- your own internal cerebral energy, you notice the painting on the box cars, the colors of the graffiti, on most of the train cars.

That graffiti may be your own verbalizing, the words in your head, and your words, about your intent, your life.  Those words--- are as effective as that paint on wood and metal, is
in determining the train engine.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Stick this picture in your brain

The ability to question your own interior credibility is fundamental to progress on a path toward a kind of unnameable mental  integrity. Gurdjieff and Jan Cox called a method for this questioning, self-observation. Their term is perhaps clearer than my latest picture, which is of a psychological credit card. This card is one you have to learn to keep declining, when your verbal thoughts present themselves. Debit cards, in this little fantasy, would have the funds from direct experience -- direct experience which you have not labeled with words.  The more you decline your personal mental credit card, the greater the balance on your silent but potent debit card. Okay, analogy is breaking down here. Still, give the picture some attention.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wouldn't it be fun

Wouldn't it be fun to discover the origin of binary thought at a pre-human level?? Binary thought, that great weapon for dividing the external world; binary thought is responsible for the obvious progress of man in manipulating the external world. Without binary thought there would be no way to imaginatively consider alternatives to features of the natural world of which we are such a significant part. These alternatives allow testing, experimentation, and brilliant alternatives that leverage our external world to better support, protect, and grow our species. All of this depends on the ability of human cerebration to consider the visible world as amenable to improvement and the means to achieve this: binary thought. Something is either this or that. Two choices, that is all you get with binary thought, along with the reality crushing ignorance of the way things interact and interpenetrate. Any point under consideration must be this or that, and thus we have air conditioning, frozen food, cyberspace, and the ability to heavy mighty machines at the sky. 

Our reach is extended, our grip empowered, our vision acute beyond that of any other species. The example Jan Cox used once or twice in conveying this aspect of mental processing, was the example of diverting a river to run uphill via a watermill structure. You have to be able to imagine how things might be different, and how rearranging the external world could achieve a greater potency. Without binary thought, we'd never be able to consider getting off this planet, much less how it might happen. To achieve our special species goals we have to pretend that one and two are distinct numbers, without any fluff on the right of the decimal, or whatever point you specify as the edge.Binary thought, the focus must be on this or that. Two choices.

And what flashed on my mind was that a hunting animal, say a stalking cat, was displaying this kind of binary mental capacity on the level of four paws, slouched body, straight tail.Slow movement. And I say binary because that attention is focused on one thing, so you have the object, and everything else. The either/or capacity is necessary for the cat to successfully seize the bird. The feral cat does not eat without this ability to divide the world.

Wouldn't it be fun is there was a connection between hunting cat and thinking man?

Monday, July 9, 2012

He had a hat

Some of the people in this vignette are still alive, so I have to blur out the details a bit. Jan is standing at a bar, with a buddy. Not someone in the group. The guy is fuming about something political. (A lot like me, recently). Jan had this shrug, and I see him now, standing close to this person. Jan is nodding, big nods, with this shrug ( a yeah, well, what are you going to do, shrug) and rolling his eyes, in what someone who did not know him, would assume was sympathetic warmth. Then he reached for his beer. 

Gurdjieff left Russia in a time of civil war, he left Turkey in a time of religious strife, he left Germany quickly, and he settled in France, an exile from his homeland. When the Nazis  invaded, and though his friends were often terrified, Gurdjieff stayed in Paris, keeping a low profile. 

If the point of words is to remind you of silence, what could you say in a political context? Above are just two stories to restore perspective. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Hub You Have Seen

Picture this metropolitan hub, you have been there, you have seen this: buses lined up, rapid rail trains stopped or not, taxis idling, and people, hot, intent, definitely going some place. Lots of people. Empty kiss/ride lot. Best of all--- just like in your recollections--- there is a wall of paper schedules, little boxes lined up, they have identical looking folded sheets stuffed in plastic bins---but the schedules are for different city locations, and let you know times, destinations, in case, you are going by city bus.
Because this is a transportation hub, people pass through, it facilitates, but is itself not a destination. The hub is how you get someplace---besides the hub. 
That's what you have been told. Because those places in big letters on the front of the bus, those street corners in tiny print in the schedule, stops the loud speaker yells out---- the point of the busy activity, the reasons you are passing through the hub---- are just a fib---those are not the places you are going. The destinations, are all, a myth.
The destinations just exist so you will keep cycling through the hub, and not noticing -- the hub. The hub only works when you do not notice it. 
Do you see? 
The hub is in your head. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chew on this

Eating meat, especially red meat, was not encouraged by the mystical philosopher Jan Cox. But that is just a background point, now, to my setup of a new picture for a person's efforts in their struggle to taste, and persist in, the cerebral objectivity Jan taught his students. The link embedded is to an article about meat consumption, but my interest is in the news item there, about a cow named Molly, who bolted from a slaughter house. Our effect to remember the goal, to practice the special attention, Jan taught us, -- the goal of neuralizing, is one word he made up to describe it, -- could be likened to a black cow, leaping over a fence, and running away. Our personal effort then, is like a cow, escaping from the factory of mechanical thinking. 

That picture is of just one moment, that must be repeated, to gain any traction. Still, a black cow bolting from a meat packaging facility, is an educational picture of the reality of spiritual ambition, mechanical human mentation, and the odds of anyone, sustaining their efforts to see individually, apart from the group mind. Molly, was allowed to end her days in a pasture, but for people, the reality of freedom must be enacted every moment. 

Although Jan's students did not, eat meat, often, they were not "vegetarians" for such labeling is an example of binary thought, the very mechanical thinking one escapes any moment the neuralizing occurs. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

headline -- Gut Bacteria Regulate Happiness

That's the headline of an article referenced at, and about research being published in  Molecular Psychiatry.

You want to read this. It is consonant with most of the research of the last century. And yet the scientists cannot face the empirical implications of their research -- man is not even captain of the boats in his bathtub. 

 I will only highlight here, the last sentence in the review, a quote by a University College of Cork researcher:

"We're really excited by these findings" said lead author Dr Gerard Clarke. "Although we always believed that the microbiota was essential for our general health, our results also highlight how important our tiny friends are for our mental wellbeing."

Dear Doctor Clarke, what if, what if--- humans are the tiny friends of microbiota?  I am not saying that is the case, I am saying we are stuck in a crippling perspective which prevents our drawing empirical conclusions. And, really,  that perspective is only crippling from the point of view of someone struggling to understand their selves as well as the cosmos. For a student of Jan Cox, the views of scientists are just part of the world to be studied. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to say this

A Procrustean bed is a classical reference which has come to mean a situation where the facts are forced to fit. Perhaps it also refers to crustaceans? Oh, let's make it fit.

Crustaceans are the order to which lobsters belong. This particular crustacean, was in my mind when I thought how similar were lobsters and binary thought. The lobsters have two front claws to manage their environment. Each claw has a two sided pincher. Just like people, well, okay, just like people's rational mind.

The rational mind is characterized by binary thought, according to the philosopher Jan Cox. Binary thought focuses on the fact words define everything according to an either/or formula. Everything is either this OR that. Whenever you speak, really, you are using binary thought. Cause or effect, everything or nothing, now or never, electron or proton, wave or particle. Oops, that last, is a GOOD example, because that simple polarity refused to fit the scientific bed. And refused to go away, which is what usually appears to happen to facts that don't fit. It is even becoming less tenable now to throw the old bedspread of statistics over the messy reality. Both/and confuses the scientists. Thus their procrustacean logic.

But still the linguistic domination of modern man continues. That ambiguity is intended. Over the preceding several centuries man has become increasingly defined by his linguistic realities, to the point where people who get Oxford appointments can assume, the verbal reality is all that counts. And THIS is like living on the sea floor, and telling the children, there is no such thing as eight tentacled creatures. There is no octopian reality---that is a myth. That there could be, not one explanation for a phenomenon, but eight explanations, in a both/and configuration, is not plausible. For instance, if evolution explains something, there cannot be other explanations which also contribute to understanding an event. Just like stories of cleavers and boiling pots are tales to scare the children.

So I myself AM procrustacean. Otherwise I couldn't really talk.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What if any conclusion is the wrong conclusion?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the physicist, is everywhere on the telly it seems. He said something interesting---speaking of the big bang, he said the fact that no one knows what happened prior to this event, is used by religious types as evidence for god.

He is quite correct, and such conclusions are not appropriate. Though Tyson is not aware of why. When you say something is a mystery, when you say something is proof of god---- you are using words to cover your own ignorance--you are not using words to help anyone understand freshly. When something is called a mystery, it is filed away, under the aspect of things categorized, it is treated as evidence, and how could that be? By putting a word on something, you can forget what is under the word, and that is just what the alert do not want. 

Here's another approach, for those concerned to recall that to which  Jan Cox pointed. We have all heard  the story of the scholars studying an elephant, and each had one part of the beast, and assessed the whole animal based on just their own part of the elephant body. This story which has an eastern origin, ntends to portray the limitations of knowledge. Consider this, the real, original story ended without naming the animal central to this story, we do not know what animal the scholars were investigating. 

Jan kept changing the maps to keep us from concluding, anything...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The message on that totebag

You may have heard the phrase, "Every pledge counts," this week: it is
NPR fundraising week. But our point is not radio, it is the
reverberations of the phrase--every pledge counts. In fact, the phrase
makes sense to all, even while it is literally silly. The phrase says
each individual is responsible for the whole; this assertion does not
bear scrutiny. But EPC sounds right to everyone --it has a real
punch-- because it is. in fact, an old old story which supports all
life. EPC is the cellular wall constituent which preserves the
individual, that is, some would say, the human ego. EPC is the
determination of the single persevering ant. Every Pledge Counts
supports a larger organism by insisting on the integrity of the
individual component. Much people call evil, is in fact simply a
reflection of life's necessay constituent organization. There might be
no Humanity if the individual did not insist, and feel strikingly
justified in so insisting, on, its own importance.

The widespread appreciation of this situation would render ordinary
life untenable and nobody wants this base for our joys and efforts
removed. So, forget I said anything. UNLESS you find this exposition
fascinating, in which case, you could reseach Jan Cox at

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rosy Fingered Gong

At times it seems reasonable to point out what may be a deep structural feature of the universe:an astonishing thrift:

that saves each green worm waving
that marches each single spermatazoa to an appreciative haven
that cradles each tulip leaf dropped onto the ground

and it may be so, but one hesitates to label, lose. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

The shapes of words

Rather than the shapes of words, perhaps we have to say, 'the shape of words.' All words, one shape. It is quite possible that all words are -- rectangular. That is, they must be arrayed, spoken, so that reality itself, is NOT glimpsed. Does this seem harsh?  Would not progress on a mystical path be signified in,-- to continue the metaphor-- the amount of grass you could see between the verbal paving stones? 

And if words are not, totally opaque, if words convey something, then perhaps they are circular, so that in a speech, they fit together so that there are breaks in the pattern of the patter. Holes, where a glimpse may be objective picture. 

The reason I like the metaphor of words as opaque rectangles, though, is that it enforces the reality that whatever words do, they do NOT convey reality. Perhaps the words of some few ARE more circular, but --- that does mean the words themselves are less opaque, that does not mean that what you see between the words is mediated BY the words.

My story for today may sound unbelievable, all these worlds, all these words, and the point of words is not to convey knowledge? Okay, regarding the external world--the exclamation, oh look, there's a hawk!, if you understand the phrase 'external world.' That phrase has an obviousness you can trust. Most people however, have no idea what the phrase 'external world' even means. 

You cannot believe this, perhaps. All the words, written by the smartest people, and they do not convey --- knowledge of reality???

Well, what did you think the eastern phrase, 'there is no truth in words' ---- what did you think that meant??

And the phrase of great teachers -- of course here I mean Jan Cox, as the only example one can confidently put forward -- "I can teach you nothing,"  he said. What after all, do you think that meant??

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can thought be -- superluminal

First tests showed neutrinos were measured, by some teensy fraction of a second, as faster than the speed of light. These results ran counter to over 100 years of  research in the natural sciences. There was a predictable amount of clucking in the professional community and sure enough, new test results throw doubt on the first measurements.
Regardless of whether neutrinos are really "superluminal" there is the possibility that thoughts can be. Superluminal thought is even rarer than scientific law anomalies. Much rarer. My picture is of words as -- light. And then the "super" luminal would be a glimpse of the border between the speed of thought and that into which thought speeds...Superliminal thought would be beyond words.
Thought then can be superluminal, in our picture, and understanding the rareness, not rareness of superluminal thought itself, but the rarity of focusing on this aspect of reality, distinguishes a few figures in the history of reality. How, after all, do you illuminate that which is faster than -- thought. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Keeping the past to grow the future

So quoting the Bible is a big fad now. It used to be just the atheists quoting ridiculous stuff to discredit they think one of the world's major religions. Now I see a new twirl: on a friend's facebook page -- the text from Leviticus 19:27

Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. 

 and also the same day another friend posts a quote of Deuteronomy 22: 20-21.

...if this thing be true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the damsel;... then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones.

 My friends have a subtler purpose than most recent quoters. And I read these quoted words with interest. 

I myself am thrilled to recall this evidence of where I came from -- to be able to read some approximation of the words of my fathers and get a sense of where their center of gravity was millenia ago and be astonished at how diligently and brilliantly they analyzed the major questions -- of origin, of purpose, of how we go about living. 

It is interesting how with change all about, a whirling chaos then, when the people were writing, and now, their children, often unable to imaginatively grasp that with different cultural boundaries for the arguments, there might be results that seem strange, even perverse. This whirling of all into everything, is minimally, disquieting often, and so disturbing that words are very popular among humans: words seem to profess a stability that makes the words always misleading if they are taken too seriously. Yet we must, take the words-- as the whole story, at some point. It was called by Gurdjieff, being asleep, that is assuming words can point to something stable when really words must always be tools, be partial. Both Gurdjieff and Jan Cox pointed out you must go to sleep, as part of the process of growth. 

Back to my main point though, she said -- we have this book called a Bible, and apparently all these smart people, think it is one solid thing, when of course, it was written over many centuries by many people. A variety of insights, things observed, preserved in one place, in some editorial process, for which I am so grateful. And who knows, maybe some of the things that seem crazy to us, were kept with the mostly astounding record, to give people a poke, a clue that they -- the readers -- have to think for themselves. That after all is where the words of the Bible came from. People understanding that the truth is a result of Real Work. 

So many ways to go from here -- maybe next time. In fact I have been planning a little essay on --- how there is no god, so to speak. So stay tuned. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Biological Basis of Binary Constructions

It just hit me -- there is a very real time when binary thinking is and should be triumphant. The analysis of the binary nature of the rational intellect, (everything is either this or that, -- two choices is all you have, pick one,)  and the dreams that operation allows, when the rational intellect is directed elsewhere than the external world, that elucidation is crucial for the vertical growth Jan Cox spent his life encouraging. To understand how the black/white, on/off, war or peace, friend or enemy, clean or dirty, ---- always there are two choices confronting the intellect as it constructs the world of human psychology, is critical to observe. Binary, means only two choices-- when in reality there is a such a multiplicity that the intellect is staggered and must turn away from any complexity accidentally glimpsed. 
In one instance though, you have to simplify, and that is if you are threatened with unexpected physical harm. The world then is divided into two. Of course that scenario is a bit of a fudge because the body acts on that division handily, not really needing the intellect to chip in. Still I like to say, -- biological basic of binary thought. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Life is a setup

A joke, life is a setup and words just a bunch of syllables, entering the bar, any words, they are all entering a bar. Anything you say, it's a setup. What can this mean? Are these words now, a setup? Well yes. They all have a punch line. They all have a period. They all have a sense of a completed picture. The period is just another word for edge, ending, for -- punchline.
Knock knock.
Who's there?

YOU know who's there. A period, an edge, a sense of closure, a line, a division. 

Life is not just a joke, life is a - good -- joke; these sentences, all, of them,  are funny as heck. For these punchlines---they believe they have an accuracy.  The joke, is that life is nothing like that -- life has no abrupt edges, no sharp parts. Life has no periods. Oh it is -- hilarious. 

Taming wolves

Jan Cox used to laugh at how the media (and policy makers) would tout education as the solution to human ills. This came together for me with something else he said, when I read this etymology of the word 'lyceum.' :

1. A lecture hall or an institution that provides public lectures, discussions, concerts, etc....
From Latin lyceum, from Greek Lykeion, an epithet of Apollo meaning wolf-slayer, from lykos (wolf) which also gave us words such as lupine (like a wolf) and lycanthropy (the delusion of being a wolf). In ancient Greece lyceum was a gymnasium so named because it was near a temple of Apollo. Aristotle established his school here. Earliest documented use: 1579.

'Wolf-slayer' which gave us a glance at human progress, also. 

I just put in the whole thing (from Anu Garg's word newsletter) for fun. What caught my attention was that lyceum comes from a word meaning wolf-slayer. Wolf slayer---that which, let us gloss, subdues the beast, the body. Some have called it 'the red circuit.' The point though is that we have here etymological evidence for the growth of Humanity. That continuous growth which is not perceptible normally within one generation, and for ends we cannot intellectually encompass in totality. We have in the etymology of lyceum a perspective for the growth of the intellect from the more simplistically hormonal body.

So the Greeks saw education as a means of civilizing man, as we do. The interesting thing, though, is how this shows multiple meanings. For while over a short span, the proposal of education is misleading as a solution, in the long run, education IS, part of the growth, the growth of Humanity -- though, and I stress this, my words do not mean the lyceum is an answer, rather part of a mystery to investigate. In this case, and recalling Jan's words, I realized he had two sides of this complexity, because he also mentioned, that morality began when men realized they had to protect their women from other men.  Morality is just another word for education, for slaying the wolf, for human progress. What is a joke viewed from the perspective of the ordinary intellect, is a real gear in a larger and dynamic pattern. There is of course, at least another side, and that is part of the mystery that beckons. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Notes for a History of Mysticism

The mystical experience, that which as students of Jan Cox know, cannot be discussed, may be likened to the universe's black holes. So critical do the universe's black holes seem, at the center of most galaxies, that I expect any day, to read the physicists contend black holes play a crucial role in the formation of galaxies. They'll figure it out, never suspecting the physical world to be, possibly, and whatever else it is, a mirror of the real.  My words, light, on an event horizon. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Science Tales

Science Fiction stories may be the fairy tales of our contemporary times. Instead of talking animals and wee folk we now have talking animals and green men. There is a story from the fifties I think, by one of the great sci fi writers, and the plot of the several pages length can be summarized in several sentences. A man finds that bugs are taking over the world. Somehow the spiders jump into the battle on the side of the humans. The narrator of the story talks to the leader of the spiders and asks, who is winning. The spider replies that you will be saved. The man is so relieved that the spider hastily adds, oh I mean, you the species, not you the individual. So all this I knew before I even met Jan Cox. Remembering it of course is the trick. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A machinery of clouds

Funny to think that the whole edifice of humanity, everything we think and know and kick might be just -- clouds in the sky. Wonderful clouds, oh yes, wonderful clouds. Jan Cox spoke of humanity as a great machine. This of course does not connote that we do or can know ALL the levers and levels of this machine. But it occurred to me that one could make a case that the oil, allowing the gears of this machinery of Humanity, to move, the functionality of motor oil,  might be labeled, in this context : the way we, people, do not even glimpse -- that which we do not know. The machinery depends on ignorance, to continue, to grow; ignorance and ......

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Kind of Survey

If you are walking on a sidewalk, you need to know where the holes are. Holes could be a change of level, like one section of cement shifting a bit. It could be a crack where a truck had an intimate off road adventure. You need to know where the holes are, but you do not walk looking down, that way, you would see nothing. Jan Cox spoke about how people do not look up, as an aspect of mechanical behavior. You must look around, at least internally, as much as possible. That's your best chance to predict, the unpredictable -- sinkhole. Knowing where the holes are is one major distinction between the natural sciences and the mystical. The former do not even see the need to know, where the holes are.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

What the books said---

quoting an AP story By MIKE SCHNEIDER, about a January 29, 2012 traffic incident on I-75, south of Gainesville, Florida: 

 A long line of cars and trucks collided one after another early Sunday on a dark Florida highway so shrouded in haze and smoke that drivers were instantly blinded. At least 10 people were killed.....

Steven R. Camps of Gainesville said he and some friends were driving home several hours before dawn when they were drawn into the pileup.

"You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy," he said. "If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of the world.".... Some cars were crushed beneath the heavier trucks.

Reporters who were allowed to view the site saw bodies still inside a burned-out Grand Prix. One tractor-trailer was burned down to its skeleton, 

charred pages of books and magazines in its cargo area. 

And the tires of every vehicle had burned away, leaving only steel belts....

It was not clear when the highway would fully reopen because part of the road melted, police said.....

End quote. 

How could the Mayan calendar be wrong---the world ends every minute. It's an easy prediction.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where the Map Is Folded

If the mechanical mind of the human species is as artificial as some philosophers such as Jan Cox have suggested, (when he points to the binary logic of that aspect of mental functioning) then one should be able to look anywhere to see evidence of this.  Look at the conversation around the term 'empathy' for example. You often hear it defined as "feeling another's pain." Such a definition does not bear examination: if you feel another's pain you either take an aspirin or head to the doctor. Whatever is going on with empathy, it is not feeling another's  pain.

What is a better way to define the term? Here is what the dictionary says:

empathy: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

This merely moves the target to another black cup, though. What is intellectual, what is identification, what is vicarious, and so on through the sentence and through the dictionary.
You will not find an answer to how you can be another person and yet not be that person.  

The term empathy points to something that needs to recombine the arbitrary divisions of the intellect in ways the ordinary mind cannot deal with. Within the maps of Jan Cox is a perfectly good answer, but I am not going to quote him. It is too easy, and that means too mechanical. My purpose is just to point to this phenomenon, and how understanding the word, if persistently pursued, is beyond the ordinary intellect. The ordinary mind is designed to divide, to break apart, the external world. (So that it can be rearranged and further human progress) Something else though, besides that wonderful tool, is needed with understanding empathy.