Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fake it new

Here is George Lucas from his recent interview with Charlie Rose:

Lucas defended his vision for the six previous Star Wars films, which he said involved constant innovation. “I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships – you know, to make it new...”

And no doubt everybody does know, what he means. But as Jan Cox pointed out, you have pigs and wings, and putting them together --- that is NOT new. Rearranging the known, is not the "new"... 

The new is possible, is extant,

Friday, December 25, 2015

Even a blog devoted to originality may have a guest blogger sometimes

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.
William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fear of Fog

This blurb is for a new book getting some press from Oxford University Press:

Few deny the sheer significance of religious belief to human society, a topic of study that has provided much insight into how we lived previously, how we live today, and how we will live in the future. However, for what purpose, exactly, did religion originate? Is religious belief just an accidental outcome of human civilization? Or does it affect people’s behavior in a way that is evolutionarily advantageous? We spoke with Dominic Johnson, author of God is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human, who suggests science and religion, two spheres thought to be in perpetual conflict, actually evolved together for mutual human benefit.....

There must be something original in the review, the book, though maybe not much. I have no intention of pursuing the book. And this is because it seems so to conform with contemporary binary thought.

But typing in a caption for my post, I typed in "Fear of Fog". I meant to spell "Fear of God".  By some quirky QWERTY typo, I hit on an answer, to modern dyspepsia. What the Greeks call metataxis, the "in between", is what is unbearable to binary thought. This logical possibility  gave us all civilized convenience and comfort. This is what Jan Cox meant when he pointed to the fact binary thought allows people to chop up the external world and rearrange it.  Rearrange and invent air conditioning, and the like.

Why the binary mind cannot abide the reality of metaxis, that in between where perhaps most of reality is, is not clear. Perhaps binary thought would not work, or so well, if you point to all it cannot cover, that which cannot be neatly divided into two. Perhaps other forces, currents are behind the apparent incompatibility. How binary thinking got this imperial thirst suggests larger issues I probably don't imagine. 

Jan Cox did not use the word "metaxis" in my presence.  We are here, like in all of the posts in this blog,  exemplifying a method of his -- to think freshly, not what others have done cerebrallly. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The real and what's else

Metaphysics is like poetry. As Michael Hamburger (I think he's the one) said of poetry,

It's a mug's game.

It is all imaginary, which does not mean  what people might imagine: it is just the words have to be made up. The terrain is not consumed completely by the words.

So if you can play the game, or finally learn to, play that game

You can win real money.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Is the pervasive persuasive

IF it is the case that the appeal of ghost stories, the interest in the macabre and spooky, derives from, reflects,  the biological realites that everything interpenetrates and is interpenetrated, that would explain the generalized interest -- the appeal of the appalling.

However, that phenomenon, the appeal of scarry stuff, may also reflect humanity's awareness of a castrated god. Which is to say they have not digested the logical consequences of man's binary constructions and the lingering sense of inadequacy of the modern conception that you can just lop off the transcendent and pretend that solves a problem,  makes them uneasy.

Now I cannot think of a third explanation, but it will come to me. Nothing is really explained without three perfectly good sketches. Minimum of three. Sorry Occam.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Another dear story about the origins of life (underwater thermal vents) and, unwittingly, the necessity of binary thought.

Worth the price of your expended attention: the word "serpentinization." As in: 

"Such vents are sources of molecular hydrogen, a side-product of a natural geological process called serpentinization...."

Naturally one wants to know, how that label arose, and did the namer have any sense of the irony of an allusion to the Biblical serpent. Perhaps it is obvious they must have, and I am obtuse.

Also this phrase regarding a possible cometary delivery of pre-biotic chemicals to earth:

" material is thought to have been made available to the primitive Earth each year, of which the dominant source is so-called ‘exogenous delivery’ by comets. ..."

"Exogenous." As an explanation can only be potent if your attention is limited to TWO, and two only, options. Either life developed on the planet originally, or--- it came from somewhere else.

If however you can step back cerebrally, and look for a broader perspective, you can ask--- is saying life came via a comet (okay, the building blocks of life) any explanation at all, or does it not just push the question of origins behind a curtain where it does not effectively even 'exist,' since you do not have to think about it. That is the blinding effect of binary thought. In this case the question of origins. If you continue to question the circumstances of these 'origins' and push the questions back, then the usefulness and limitations of binary thought, may become apparent.

It COULD have happened...this way

Say, of the billions and billions of planets which don't exist, there is one where the population has been allowed to use the idea of god, without having any clue as to what that label might mean. And it was here, amidst the atmospheres of supposition and the interstellar currents of the indeterminate, that the cleat prints of evolution reached a certain stage. An accelerated comprehension of a sphere called "the external world" was desirable: For reasons one can only guess at--- say it was USEFUL that some species could spread to other planets via some gravel path. This required a focus for centuries on that external sphere, even though this meant distorting other layers of growth, on a temporary basis. Attention to that which was parsible, superficially divisible, and thus rearrangeable, was forced upon this particular globe. And for reasons of efficiency this became the main focus of the energy produced on this one globe. By focus we mean that the particles at the leading edge of this push became rigid, and inflexible. Rigid means they could not consider the broader context of anything. Like moles underground these particles must just keep pushing and rearranging their tunnel surroundings.

After all it was only a temporary stage; what could be briefer than a few centuries. Those won't even be missed by the inhabitants there. Soon the era of the natural scientists will be back in proper perspective as a partialness.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Novelty can alter your genes

This report on current research was exciting. Jan Cox based his 20th century work school on the necessity for the new. He did mention also, that you could not alter your genetic makeup. In this context I found the article excerpted below, interesting.

From an article in the OUP blog

Experiments with rodents indicate that normal cognitive processes can also initiate epigenetic events. For instance, when we encounter novelty in the world, we register it with structural changes in our brains, changes that require epigenetically controlled protein production. Storing information in long-term memory also appears to utilize epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, the way we think is affected by epigenetics, just as epigenetic factors affect the way we feel when we find ourselves in stress-inducing situations....

Some things not addressed by the writer:

Surely if you talk about change you must address what does not change. How else measure change? And also --- if you do not understand the question, how can you answer it. These are just thoughts this essay brought to mind.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Is there a Nobel for taxidermy

It was interesting to notice  there is no verb for doing taxidermy, none using that word. And that is appropriate because by 'taxidermy' we mean to emphasize the product of man's mechanical mental effort -- words. We tend to think that words allow us to explicate and illuminate our world. Yet Jan Cox described words as never hitting their mark because by the time you spoke any word or phrase, the world you were responding to, was already, changed. And certainly any verbal phrase that is out of date, even by microseconds, is a clunky something, and not a verbal lunge. The spoken word can even be thought of as a stuffed something, once vivid, now vacant, a furry creature frozen in critical form. Forever, beside the point, Furnishing a diorama of dynamism in a museum of human perspective.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What is time

There she is scannng the shelves in a used bookstore
There it is, a used book, a rare book by an undervalued writer,
There he is, a signature on a fly leaf, after all these decades.

as Jan Cox said, "Time is personality."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Can you put planks across an abyss

Max Planck is said to have said (I hesitate assuming he wrote in German, and myself finding translations often lead to distortion):

Science ... means unresting endeavor and continually progressing development toward an aim which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but which the intellect can never fully grasp...

I like this quote. I don't like where I found it, in a book which has the phrase "Quantum-Mystical" in the title. You might think that is what I have been pointing to, and you would not be wrong. But I don't like this labeling of the unknown. It violates the very nature of the unknown. The thinking that Jan Cox demonstrated was that you carry rational thought as far as possible. You cannot then, plant a flag on some further territory.

Words obscure the reality of the mystical as much, even more, than they clog the apprehension of the knowable. In the latter though, words serve an important function.

So it makes no sense to find an edge ,and say aha. Here is what I meant. No, you have thereby, in the flagging of it, lost it.

Yes, it is tough. There are of course, rewards along the way.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is it fair to blame religion on religion?

Religion was once an answer. Because it no longer is, does not mean that the question prompting it is gone. And anyway, few ever,EVER, got the point of religion. So few--- that it makes sense to ask---- can you blame religion ON religion. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Awe of Edge

The reality to which the Work, to use Gurdjieffian terms, or TKS (This Kind of Stuff) as Jan Cox termed it, briefly, points is slender, beautiful, and is perhaps, all that can accurately be called "the real." This moment when the new is first apprehended, is lost when memory, when anticipation pile on. What if though, it is true, that reality is that momentary fragment and all else is figment? 
The glimpse of a new celestial body, is only fresh briefly, and yesterday it happened to a lot of people. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Words and Their Limitations

As if I had any other topics, being as how this blog is about the teachings of Jan Cox. He said, you may recall, that "you have to make your own maps".  But a good example occurred recently. And the point of this story is any speaker has to recall that any speech ---- is only a partial aspect of something larger. Let's go beyond, for once, counting dandelion petals, (my normal example of the edge of the unknown in discourse.) The point of my story below, is how you always, philosopher or grocery shopper -- in speech -- that you are only getting part of the story. 

The story--- I had observed this homeless person, younger than me, before, and started talking to him in the grocery parking lot which was part of our larger neighborhood. It was very interesting, -- a nearby church benignly allows their creek side camping area to continue. And I, referring to his comrades, said--- 

"are they violent people?"

He said,

oh no, but eh, sometimes it's so weird I just have to get away.

He thought I was asking why he walked around the neighborhood so much. What I meant by my question, "are they violent," was, am I in danger.

My surmise is that this situation typifies not just chatter, but, the content of most books. 
It may be that ignoring the layers in verbal situations, is the reason history seems like tumbling arguments that only look like progress. People assume they are addressing the same issues; writers only assume they are engaged in a dialogue with the past.  Actually they are missing the purpose, the point of some previous argument. Analysts rarely start by asking about a statement, what is it in response to. 

Or, at least, that is part of an answer to a question about the mysteries of human discourse..

Monday, June 15, 2015

History or story

The document placed limitations on the king. It was actually of immediate benefit to a small segment of the populace-- the nobility, but it established a tradition of the rule of law. This is a familiar story but we are not talking about Runnymede. We are talking about Hungary's Golden Bull less than 7 years after the Magna Carta. Why have historians forgotten the Golden Bull?. This forgetting lets us consider the English saga as nobler than it actually was. Recalling this detail of Hungarian history allows us to glimpse historical progress of a broader scope. Both events raise the question of the mechanisms of history--- is there a larger kind of progress which minimizes the contributions of "heroes." The Axis Time events suggest  this possibility. Were the Magna Carta and the Golden Bull parts of an on-going articulation of humanity?

King John, or II  Andras were not confused about whether they made their own fate, but modern historians default to this notion of the plucky individual battling his fate. And it can distort their evaluation of events. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I am sorry Professor Tim Hunt lost his job

I am sorry Professor Tim Hunt lost his job. The feminist outcry over
his comments about women demonstrates --- that some women--- ARE
crybabies. Just as he said. Where is the amused detachment which would
be an intellectual response to his jokes. Why didn't a tone of "oh,
what a cute dinosaur," manifest in reviews of his comments.

Instead, a prevalent tone of indignation revealed ignorance about
history, and a sad reliance on public opinion as a clue to the
mechanisms of reality.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's just a question

Today's headline from Aeon (online newsletter):

                                                                    Hive consciousness

What if --- this group mind is actually how Humanity operates now and always has? Language is one pointer in this direction. What if the reality of an "individual mind" is actually the rarely realized goal of mystics throughout history.  Or would be, if binary thought was more than a tool useful for chopping up the external macro world. For in fact the human organism is both tied together and capable of acting independently. And my counter example just highlights the nature of binary rational thought: everything is either this or that. Sorry Soren, it really could be -- both. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Whose row bought

In today's New York Times we read:

Some visionaries — Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak — warn that humans will be superseded by robots, who will soon be smart enough to redesign themselves to become exponentially smarter.

This is a common theme in the media chatter. I assume we all get the point. What is missing is the perspective someone like Jan Cox provides.  This 20th century mystico-philosopher sought to point out that humanity is composed of robotic people. The goal is to realize this in oneself.  The moment of seeing is a gap that may reveal the possibilities of the only freedom man can claim.

Jan laughed at the picture of robots taking over. Not because people already were, that, but because this popular fantasy reveals ignorance about man himself, and his potential. Creativity is what can never be programmed, real creativity. What men call the creative, is mostly rearranging known parts --- pigs and wings, for instance. That is not the creativity to which some few, throughout history, have pointed, while calling it different things.  

Take heart, the row doesn't have to be bought. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Proofs of the existence of a god

Proofs of the existence of a god do not convey anything about god's (gods's) existing or not. These logical steps point to the dimensions of man's imagination.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is that the Easter Bunny on the Cross

It just occurred to me that the meaning and end of the Christian
religion might well be this: there is always hope. We can see the
evolutionary advantage of that message. Still that suggests the import
of Christianity is an emotional growth, functionality.

Which thought gave rise to a playful summary of history on my part.
Let us suppose that the glorious triumph of the classical world was
Marcus Aurelius (d.180 AD) Not a hard case to make at all. Time-wise
then Christianity was on the rise about the time the classical world
flowered, and died. That's what flowers do.

Christianity itself may be said to have blossomed with Nicholas of
Cusa. (d. 1464). During that period of more than a millenium then, we
see an emotional growth in segments of humanity -- and my evidence for
this would be the attitudes toward women changing, this whole idea of
love between individuals, and appreciation of the maternal. All very
emotional themes. Arguably new in history.

And we consider ourselves part of a different era, now. One which
seems to have discarded much of the progress of humanity, but that
perhaps was necessary to procure a clean slate for further growth,
just the typical patricide characteristic of progress. I have no idea
what the flowering of this era will be.

We have an intellect engaged since 180, and capable of including
emotional realities since 1464. (to speak abstractly.) The emphasis on
emotions certainly played a part in this third vegetation -- since our
own seems to be characterized by, among other things, an emphasis on
human individuality -- the person as a center of knowing, of change,
of reality. All dubious propositions, but useful. It is hard to
imagine Humanity could come to value the individual so, without this
emotional component from the so-called medieval era. And of course we
need not emphasize the importance of the intellect which we owe to
antiquity. So it all weaves together.

But this individuality is useful for what? I do not know.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The mundane essence of most of it.

We wonder at the people doing dreadful things, how could this happen. We only ask 'how' of course, if we have a glimmer that the world is not, black and white. In fact, that may be the only generalization that holds most of the time: Reality cannot be divided into two things.

And, skipping the binary nature of rational thought itself, which we address frequently in other posts, let me suggest now, that this tendency to divide everything into two, is basic to the human ego (hence its prevalence) and specifically, can shed light on how, 'people can do dreadful things.' It may turn out that horribleness is just an extension of that which is ordinary, ordinary, because it defines us all. 

The human ego must separate itself from the world when people grow up. Whether of not this division of self from world is a coherent stance, it in fact happens to us all, and so, must be healthy on various levels.

For example liberals often mouth off about how selfish rich people are, and seem to think the rich are the source of all evil, that a flattening of wealth will produce human progress. Any real progress must include questioning such simplistic analyses. We use it here as an example of this division of self and the rest, the world, and how such a division into two, is a sign something has been very confused in the analyzing. My example of the self and an alternate world of wealthy selfish people is meant to illustrate the inadequacy of binary approaches. But by way of a segue to our last example, let me mention that among other things, the rich provide a variety in the world and variety is critical to growth, although, of course, there are varieties of variety.

Another ordinary approach is that where the self is the judge of the evil of the rest of the world. This I hope I have explained already, is a basis of everyday psychology. The division into two; the self as defined as separate from the rest of the world; and that otherness, the rest of the world, as the source of the problems faced.

When we criticize people who do horrible things, we reveal our own ignorance, for these people are acting on the same psychological function as that which helps define us all. The evil is 'out there'; the evil (problems) could not be WITHIN ourselves: for such division is a necessary aspect of creating a human ego---- separating yourself out from the world. The people we criticize are puppets themselves and so how can someone with insight call "THEM" evil? Dividing the world into us and them is one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most illusory, motivations in human history. Motivations which may be necessary, but that does not mean everyone has to believe in the division. Not everyone has to believe in these motivations, just most.

This division certainly seems to be obvious in stuff happening now in the middle east. I am not saying we do not wage war against them. I am saying we do not assume they are different from us. For we all fall into, indeed are defined by, this mental proclivity for dividing the world into two. And if we assume the world falls into us versus them, then we are just imitating those people we dislike. For how 'they can do terrible things' is because all the problems in their world are "out there," and therefore personal, internal alteration or growth in thinking is not even called for. That, and yeah, they're pissed off. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aquinas Anyone?

The writings of St. Thomas Aquinas have a lot in common with those of modern scientists.

Both were concerned to diagram, to connect, to define, every aspect of experience, with a kind of imperialistic ambition. The result for both sets of writings is that of a load of cartons piled up. Moving house, or embarking on a voyage.

Except that Aquinas left room to move, in the world he diagrammed. His flow chart allowed for flow. Or let's say the cartons have holes in them, like for a pet carrier. 

His modern counterparts cannot move because they cannot step back and get a sense of what has been accomplished. Their world is defined by exclusionary principles with no basis in science, and so their procrustean sleeping bag in fact is more binding than restful. 

Aquinas's concern to include Aristotle, which is a kind of intellectual binding, is actually liberating because it inspires growth, original thinking. The comparable rule binding modern scientists, variations of the principle of verification, results in excisions of reality that in fact, are blinding. 

There is room in the world Aquinas sketches, for questions about the content of the cardboard itself.  Modern science, insisting they can answer that kind of question, wind up with babbling on subjects like free will, or nothingness. Their rejection of metaphysics is at the cost of espousing a metafizzle.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just some questions

How come is there no word for not believing in evil. About god, who is really competent to say? But an existence of evil seems to be one thing everyone can agree on. 

No one challenges this concept, no one wonders the word cannot be discarded. No one hesitates to use the word "evil" for fear of being misunderstood. Who wonders there are no synonyms, for a word universally apparently --- needed. Lots of words for that clown called a devil, satan, the tempter.Just like words for some god. But evil itself, seems to be an incontrovertible axis of the world, so obviously extant that no verbal glosses are critical. Some define it differently, but who is ready to toss the concept.  

Not everybody's got a god, but everybody's got an evil. Whether you call it that word or not, you know there is "evil." There seems to be something the matter with the world. And imagine the counter-examples that would be thrown at you if you dared suggest, there is no evil. 

The faith of people that there is such a thing as evil must be functional, based on the above observations. And functional is the next question and we can address it soon in this forum.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Seeing is NOT believing, anymore

Seeing is NOT believing in a world where all images are manipulated. I am not talking about the unreliability of eye-witness testimony, so much in the news recently. My reference is to the ubiquity of photo manipulation. 

In our world all photographs are manipulated, processed, photoshopped. This is an intelligent assumption to make when you gaze at any photo that comes to your attention. Your first reaction should be, this is fake. I have noticed however, when mentioning this to sophisticated people, a reaction of shock. 

There are a number of unpleasant results from this widespread alternation of photographs. Here I do not mean people presented with unrealistic body images they try to imitate. That has been going on for millenia. I may elaborate on this in another post. 

There are pleasant results from this common tinkering with the images that flow across the web, and our consciousness. The sky is brighter, human sympathy may in fact be becoming enlarged. 

And in fact, this development of widespread tinkering is part of larger changes, ultimately, for the good, though the results are typically seen by one's children. I just say--- assume a picture is fake, the first time you see it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Groundhogs and Shadows

How many grounds does a groundhog chuck
if a groundhog could chuck mysteries--Grok
This- at least one: 
where are the shadows of words?
For every speech has one;
I would say ---every word has a shadow,
every word  is a nest, with  a bird 
the intellect cannot detect--
But that confuses the metaphor of  a grandchuck's shadow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The real story behind a real headline

The real story behind a real headline. Which headline is

I am sure the article is comparing 2000 vs the 17 lives lost in the terrorist attack on the office of a satirical magazine in Paris, last week. No doubt wondering how the media could focus on lives lost on such a smaller scale.  

The reason for the discrepancy is not primarily racism, or media obtuseness. The real reason is that the media felt some of their own were attacked. "Their own" being fellow scribblers. Their attention followed their hearts. 

This phenomenon is not apparent just in humans. My case though is built on the observation of the way toddlers look at each other in passing cars. Their little heads swivel first to another child in another car, before other possible topics of interest. Same thing with geezers.

Now, this I have noticed for years. What only recently came to my attention is that dogs do the same thing. Again, it was passengers in passing cars that alerted me to what is a widespread, one assumes genetic, interest in others similar to oneself. Dogs also swirl their heads to observe another dog in another vehicle. 

This analysis points to the basic causes. It does not rule out other factors playing a part. But we first need to understand the original impulses if we are to evaluate any possible remedies. 

In this case the underlying cause is the interest writers have, in other--- writers. And they cannot help it. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He had a what

There's a space there--- a gap -- which can be extended.
Just some dings for the dumb
you get, that you want to be the 'dumb'..... This may be way to much to put out in public....

Friday, January 2, 2015

A pile of -- peoples

Pebbles on a mountain side are unlike pebbles worn by the waves. In their tiny peaks and steep inclines they may well bear a fractal resemblance to the mountain on which they rest. Usually rest. For of course the ambient conditions and interior volcanic potential of the mountain can at any time initiate movement the pebbles might well misdescribe as something they themselves had intended. Skidding, bouncing, down a slope, can't you hear them insisting they had planned the whole excursion? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Is there really a wall between the inside and the outside, of man

We quote now from a National Geographic  blog

Take two people with identical genes and put them in different environments, and some of their genes may respond in different ways. That's long been a good counterargument against genetic hyper-determinism.

Oh really. I like this quote because it simply states an assumption apparent in much writing about science--- this concern about preserving man's free will. In this case, if we tug at his argument, it may show up sloppy thinking. The idea is that  greater complexity is an avenue for greater freedom for the individual. Yet how could that be. Greater complexity just mean more intricate genetic functioning. Greater complexity mean tighter determinism not a lapse from "hyper-determinism." It seems so obvious, but that is because I heard Jan Cox discussing causality  occasionally. Relevant here is his pointing out that there is no  genetic inside and environmental outside. That environment outside you, it is just more genetics. So obvious, what is outside us, it is genetic also. 

This kind of blatant disregard for reality, is something to ponder, another time.