Archive for October, 2010

Notes on Open Education

October 30, 2010

I just came across this website. Education Automation is one of the books that I’ve read and the put the blogging of it on the backburner. It’s come up again in conversation so I’m linking this other blog on the book. (I’m imagining that people actually read this blog. These people will read the linked blog, read the book, and then when I get around to posting, there will be a really good discussion of the ideas and possibilities.)

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Some notes at the end of October

October 28, 2010

I posted two “dialogues” today. One of the dialogues has been joined by another writer since the posting. We’ll see if anything comes of it.

I’m also looking forward to any discussion surrounding Paulette Regan‘s new book.

I don’t know if it comes across in the “dialogues” but I’m going to, here, in this post, note a sense of frustration. The mystic dialogue ends on a spastic note. And in the crowdsourcing dialogue I never really make communication. I make an attempt to show that I have understood the responses, and seek confirmation that I am being understood, but it appears that no communication has actually taken place. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt someone I was talking to was actively avoiding the ideas I was trying to inject into the conversation. The mystic converser avoids direct contact with ideas through a discursive style, and the capitalist in socialist clothing converser is simply dismissive.

Orwell mentions this kind of slippery socialism. (I’ll find the reference later) The thought goes that socialists want justice and equality on the level of thought, but they subconsciously know that real justice and equality would remove their privilege, so the movement sabotages itself. You can’t have your privilege and equality too. The contradiction short circuits thought and action.

There are political activists willing to think and act for equality in spite of what it means for their privilege. A very recent and obvious example is Alex Hundert. He has literally given his freedom to speak against dominant narratives. What has happened to Alex is real (Radical suggestion – Realism), and outrage, not acceptance, is the appropriate response. It’s hard to be positive knowing that this is happening.

I have a dialogue about The Power of Now that I’ve yet to post. It’s a huge back and forth email correspondence that covers the entire book. I mention this as a possible source of research into the mystic mind. The debates between evolutionists and creationists was between contradicting sources of authority. The debate became heated when a group of scientists began to blame a group of Christians for cuts to the governement funding and for the weak state of education. Christians are useful at this point for capitalist governments which are slashing education and social budgets. It’s confusing because George W. Bush was a proclaiming Christian, and the President of the United States, and slashing funding to social programs, but the austerity measures imposed by capitalist state organizations are the practice of an ideology of profit, of capitalism. There’s an authoritarian anti-democratic aspect to the extra-governmental economic policy-makers. The noise of the debate between authoritarian scientists and authoritarian Christians was a mere spectacle because niether had the authority to be won in debate.

But Orwell and his explaination of the inability to deal with the contradiction might help us understand what was going on. The real authority, economic policy makers, the military-capitalist complex, trade agreement that strip the working class of power, is also that same body that funds universities and scientific research. The complex has a mystique, with the invisible hand of the market economy, and an authority unchecked by democratic process, a certain kind of Christian flocked to this authority and power. This certain kind of Christian became the scape goat. The reality is that if you name the complex, you die. Ok. that might be a little dramatic, but funding dries up. In the case of Alex, you go to prison. In Dreams of a Final Theory there’s a story how physicist named the goal of a project, The God Particle to help secure funding. So there may be some validity to the charges of a Christian block against scientific funding, but only some. The military-capitalist complex is profit, power and control driven. The complex is also in a position of power, from this complex issues the policy that shapes our world. Christian in general are critical of the world, but their analysis, as it is, usually blames the powerless for much of the world’s problems.

Scaffolding might be necessary. What I mean is a general education of the converser. We are at war with the mystics. More presicely we are at war with ourselves. Until very recently in human history all we knew was from God. The struggle for democracy comes of age during the 18th century, but clearly the ideas of reason, freedom, equality, self-government were not unopposed by the power those ideas were developed to oppose.

Wisdom was couched in religion. It came from God. See the Book Of Wisdom for an example. It would be a mistake to not take this Wisdom seriously. The mystics prior to the rise of Scientific Philosophy had a monopoly on Wisdom. This wisdom was packaged in a fear of authority. This wisdom validated the right of Kings. But this wisdom, was wisdom.

The Bodhisattva vows can help us understand the danger of dealing with unprepared minds. One of the 18 vows states that you are not to teach emptiness to those whose minds are unprepared. There is wisdom in this. As Orwell showed we tend to swerve around mental contradictions avoiding, and unconsciously ignoring them. One phenomenon is conspiracy theory. Teaching criticism should be reserved for the prepared mind. Today is schools and in general an objective scientific thought process is the basis for education, but a residual cultural mysticism still exists. I’m working on the theory that the more mystical minded who learn of the world are susceptible to conspiracy theory. It’s a working theory.

Through November I am going to blog every day. I might sign up at NaBloPoMo, or I might just do it. Either way, and it sort of follows from the rambling here. I’m going to blog Negativity and Revolution. I came across this article searching for the book link) You’re welcome to join me. Here’s a review.

Dialogue Around Possibilian Quote

October 28, 2010

“We know way too much through science to commit to any religious tradition, but too little to commit to atheism” David Eagleman

Mystic : Nice! I am of a mystical bent, but I always liked the idea of a scientist who, though s/he may not share my beliefs, doesn’t feel such a need to declare “I CRUSH YOU!!” What’s up with that? 😀 And of course, I know a lot of atheists or agnostics probably feel the same way — if we’re not hurting anyone, live and let live, and let your light shine! Whether scientist or mystic, I bet every honest person on earth is here for a reason and has something to offer to the search for the truth.

Me: “if we’re not hurting anyone”?? “honesty” and “truth”?? Mystics are always looking for a way to squirm through mental worm holes. The feeling that you are being pinned down to reality, and the feeling that you are being crushed, might be indistinguishable.

The question is what are we to commit to, if we can’t commit to atheism, or religious traditions? It seems from the comments that the inability to disprove fantasy, seems to validate living in one. 

First things first. There are people who don’t have enough to eat. This can be scientifically proven. There are basic nutritional requirements, as well as individually measurable caloric needs.

The secret, or a few fishes and loaves, could possibly feed Canada’s hungry, and believing this might possibly ease our collective conscious. God, or the universe might intervene, but in a materialist world, systemic capitalism is provably intervening. And while we may feel powerless, and crushed by the material view, their are people suffering in the material world, while root causes are overlooked.

The consolation of philosophies and religion maintains very real power imbalances. Social sciences are themselves subject to power skewed visions and conclusions. But science in the tradition of the enlightenment should continue to name power biases, and pin us to the material, and the extremely complex clockwork.

When the choice is between a profit-driven world of objectifying science and an authoritarian world of mystifying religion, finding some other possibilities might be a good idea. I’d prefer something democratic, and warm-blooded.
Mystic: Rodger, relax. You sound very testy. I said that OTHERS, among atheists and the religious alike, loved to bellow “I CRUSH YOU!”, in other words, to arrogate or leap to a conclusion that they haven’t supported (such as your conclusion that I was feeling crushed, which I did NOT say, or your certainty that I’m somehow “looking for a way to squirm through mental worm holes,” based on the fact that I–assumed goodwill on the part of those who were attempting to seek answers with honesty and truth?). 

In case it wasn’t clear, I was objecting to such people’s attempts to browbeat others by using high-handed, imperious, sneering, self-congratulatory, and derisive language, rather than demonstrating facts and being certain of their conclusions, before they declare them. This is exactly what you have just done. Since you jumped to two conclusions already, are you quite certain that you haven’t jumped to MANY more, during your life–as indeed we all have?

Again: I did NOT say I felt that I was being crushed; by saying that OTHERS say that, I meant that atheists and believers alike, due to their egotistical need to “win” arguments by verbal bullying, attempt to “crush” others who disagree wit…h them, instead of calmly saying “I disagree with you on this point, and this point, and here’s why:” and reacting like an adult when confronted with dissent, instead of a contestant on a reality TV show and trying to yell down that dissent with belittling language. If your argument is logical and factual enough, you should be able to put it and convince any fair-minded person of its validity. Your inability to assume that I could be such a fair-minded person is far too common. 

Since you mention people who don’t have enough to eat, I think that the idea of charitable work is a perfectly good place to start. If someone is so certain of the correctness either of atheism OR their faith, then I would say that rather than yelling “my side is right!” until one is hoarse, one would do far better by picking the very best atheist, or the very best person of faith, in the world, and trying to do as much as that person has done to help the world, instead of opening one’s mouth merely to assert that one is right, which has no practical use that I can see besides comforting one’s own ego.

Me: Imagine the possibility you are in error. I think this is one of the lines Eagleman uses. There is a practical aspect to correcting error. We see the world through our conditioning. What I think Eagleman is hoping to put forward is a creati…ve scientific outlook. He’s not leaving you alone to be right. He’s reminding you that you live in a world you don’t at all understand. No one understands. 

But we are aware of some things. What I was trying to say, is that the debate between authoritarian mystics and authoritarian scientists sort of misses the point. Eagleman says we can’t commit to any religion or an idea of no god.

This debate, between creationists and evolutionists, has been raging for a while, and sort of misses out on the possibilities. Evolutionists seem to blame creationists for the lack of a general scientific outlook in Western society. I think this lets the capitalists off the hook. I tend to blame the capitalists for most social ills, only because most social policy, and things like roads and buildings are designed and built according to a capitalist logic. Capitalist logic has a mysticism about it as well. We’d do well to consider a materialist human ethic. It’s a warm loving science we need.

If I seem testy with mystics. It’s because I am. Eagleman has no time for them either, but his language seems inclusive, where it is not. He says we don’t know a whole lot about ourselves and the world, which is true, but he is definitely a materialist. He talks about the brain and the organic material contingency of the self and reality. There’s no eternal soul here, no mystic real estate on which to stake our eternal claim. To live as though something that doesn’t exist exists, is to live in error. That we don’t know how the material world works, is a great equalizer, a strong foundation for democracy.

That the mystics keep putting gods, universal minds, truth, morality, money and other forms of external authority in our way is annoying. A line must be drawn between mysticism and materialism. And another line between external authority and collective immanence. With the line drawn, I’ll live on the side of materialism and collective immanence.

Mystic: Well thanks–but you see, now you’ve put an argument that expresses things much more thoughtfully, and even expresses your annoyance, without needing to stoop to contemptuous language like “squirm” and “wormhole,” painting me without ANY ev…idence, as trying to avoid some truth, when you hadn’t ARTICULATED any truth that I’d supposedly seen and run away from. It is completely possible to dissent, even with annoyance, without stooping to the ad hominem or sweeping generalizations such as that mystics are always trying to squirm away from challenges to their ideas. 

My issues were two: first, that though he may well come from a materialistic bent, Eagleman seems to be saying (and again, I know just north of nothing about Eagleman at all, beyond the Wikis I just read, so accent on “he seems to be saying”) that it is as wrong for materialists to arrogate conclusions about faith that they haven’t proven as it is for believers to do so.

Secondly, that I suspect that he came to this feeling partly because of people’s tendency to make vicious war to the knife over these questions, instead of discussing them as a professor would do. Speaking of annoyance, I find it HIGHLY annoying that I can’t listen to a song on Youtube without being treated to a raging, snarling display of bad blood, be it on never so STUPID and trivial an issue, between the listeners, who just HAVE to sneer each other into the dirt, and can’t go to bed without making a new enemy, because one of them got the name of Jethro Tull’s third glockenspiel player wrong. This need everyone seems to have, not to be content with simply dissenting, but with showing absolute contempt for anyone disagreeing with them, is not motivated by any search for truth, clarity or logic, but only by ego. It’s also REALLY simple-minded and idiotic. So those two points were my only main points.

As to your objections in your last paragraph, that, too, contains many sweeping generalizations, with which mystics are tarred by you now. A basic tenet for many mystics is the appeal to the master WITHIN, aka the Still, Small Voice. This is the very opposite of an “external authority.” Furthermore, there’s a basic contradiction in your argument if you object to “truth” as being an “external authority,” to be rejected: it means, of course, that I must reject your entire argument, and everyone else’s, including my own, because there’s no objective truth. This sounds like the relativism of Postmodernism, which sucks, and which was invented to give publishing work to philosophy professors who have forgotten the point of their work. Besides which, if truth is just an annoying “external authority” that someone’s invented, then how can you accuse anyone of squirming to escape it?

Dialogue Around “Crowdsourcing” Quote

October 28, 2010

“Crowdsourcing poses a tantalizing question: What if the solutions to our greatest problems weren’t waiting to be conceived, but already existed somewhere, just waiting to be found, in the warp and weave of this vibrant human network?” ~Jeff Howe

Me: Crowdsourcing is not a democratic practice. It is a corporate practice. The crowd is used as cheap labour.

Our greatest problems are hunger and homelessness, and these problems are maintained by a capitalist logic, capitalist policy, capitalist decisions, and capitalist practices.

Do we really need to bring on the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few?

Response: Rodger, are you saying Wikipedia is just about a corporation using cheap labour? Crowdsourcing is a process and mode of production. Yes it’s true that it can be exploited by corporations as well. It is true that crowdsourcing is not necessarily democratic. In terms of the use of it for wikepedia, I think it’s exciting.

Me: ‎”Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.” This is from Jeff Howe’s article on crowdsourcing (I almost typed crowdsurfing).

Response: ya I know, I read his book. Howe takes a business perspective alot of the time because that’s his world view. I don’t share his view of it in that sense. I do agree with much of what he has to say in regards to it changing our social practices and institutions for the better – and also the potential for crowdsourcing in general -hence the quote. I’m excited about the wikipedia side of it, and agree that the commercial application is problematic.

Me: Wikipedia was designed on the principles of open source. These are the principles that capitalists are exploiting for cheap labour. The huge difference is that the product of open source collaboration remains open. With crowdsourcing the “solution” becomes a product sold back to the crowd which created it.

This isn’t a minor distinction to be optimistically overlooked. 

If our interest is democracy and social justice, then we should be developing our criticism of the practices that go against these ends.

Response: meh, crowdsourcing has a board definition that includes both Wikipedia and commercial applications – some open, some not. Just because you say it’s close, doesn’t make it so.
Sidekick: people are idiots… you should maek your own opinion and ignor everyone else
Me:  Ha, Ha. I was just going to let this go. but this last comment is too much. Clearly there are idiots among us, but it’s a question of democracy whether to ignore them or not.

I get what you’re doing Steve. You’re using Howe’s coinage as synonymous with, or at least containing the meaning of, open source/free software (documentation). You’re using the word to express a spirit of collaboration. I get that.

I am not opposed to that spirit of collaboration. I was not opposing that part of the quote as you were using it.

Did you at all see the distinction I was trying to make? No. You had made your own opinion and ignored completely the distinction I was suggesting. (This was followed by a little cheer from your fans.) (Steve, you know I’m getting a kick out of writing this.)

There are Ayn Rand quotes that express exciting ideas. But for someone interested in social justice through democratic practice, the way she used the words makes them unusable for our desired expression. Another example, the democracy we say we live in contains Alex Hundert’s recent treatment. And this isn’t really jumping all over the place. Out-sourcing is part of the etymology of the word/practice I’m objecting to. This form of corporate/economic domination is in line with the G20 policy Hundert was speaking against.

And again I don’t deny that the broad definition of crowdsourcing co-opts words more useful to the practice of democracy like collaboration, community-based and participatory. What I’m objecting to is the subversive movement of the ideas behind corporate domination into democratic movements.

Response: oh boy, Rodger if you have this much to say about this quote, you’re going to love my next column on the subject – by love I mean hate 🙂 I actually see crowdsourcing and open source software’s meaning/values as different – crowdsourcing is… more board and more specific in some ways. Howe describe a bunch of categories like “crowd funding” that probably can’t be considered an open source software thing. There’s lots of crossover but I’m not trying to conflate the two. I’d say crowdsourcing grew out of the practices/processes of open source software development.I don’t agree with alot of what Howe says, but he’s no Ayn Rand. He celebrates the practices/process associated with crowd sourcing no matter where they are found. I don’t agree with that, but I take his point on process.

I just don’t think crowd sourcing is simply a tool of corporate domination. I don’t see it as being the new outsourcing, or even being about exploitation. It can be, depending on who’s using it and for what purpose. I find the positive public benefit applications of it exciting, and that’s what I’m focusing on.

 

Third Party: you’re talking past each other here -focusing either on the level of discourse (how is the term ‘crowdsourcing’ mobilized as part of a broader ideology that co-opts ideals of collaboration for capitalist ends?) or on the level of practice (how are certain manifestations of crowdsourcing a new way of subverting capitalist practices?). you’re both right, and both making excellent points.

for me, this just raises a couple of important questions. when do we try to expose manipulations at the level of discourse, or when do we simply insist on retaining the use of the word to denote the more subversive version of the concept? or: how can we embody a positive vision of what social change can look like without losing our ability to critique?
Me: You’re right about that. We have got to develop our critical faculties. To realize a vision of social change, there needs to first be real change in our practices and relationships. I don’t know if language/meaning will follow the changes in practices and relationships or the other way round or all at once, but chances are, like any change in habit (dieting, working out, quitting smoking, etc.), it’s hard work, and it’s made easier if you do it in a group. I’ve read somewhere that self-criticism is structurally impossible, maybe it was self-analysis, but the point is, most of the time we don’t have a clue what the fuck we’re doing. So our ability to receive criticism, critically and respectfully, is something we need to develop along with our vision for changing the social relationships and practices that we ourselves maintain.

 

Possibilium and the Church of Material Comforts

October 24, 2010

Followed a link today and ended up writing about the atheism vs religion topic once again. The Possibilium Movement, the line that we don’t know enough to commit to atheism, but we know too much to commit to any religious tradition, comes down hard on the side of science, but does it in a way that promotes scientific inquiry and creativity, as opposed to smugly bashing creationists.

Watching the video of David Eagleman doing a kind of preacher bit, reminded me of my desire to form the Church of Material Comfort, but the preacher routine isn’t funny or interesting, not even for a second. I mean once the bit started it was already stale. I still think we might benefit from a social space, that’s free and community building and helps us develop, but seeing the short bit, it might not be a good idea to keep too much of the church model.

Since reading some liberation theology, I’ve been softened. The materialism of that sect, the worship of the flesh as God, Jesus as the flesh God, and life as flesh, is very much in line with the materialism, the warm materialism I’m working into an ethic. But a line must be drawn between mysticism and materialism. And another line between external authority and collective immanence. With the line drawn, I’ll live on the side of materialism and collective immanence.

One of the problems of Possibilism is that it doesn’t draw the line. Or Eagleman tries to placate and console believers. It might be a good idea. The arrogance and meanness of the new atheists is not the kind of behaviour or attitude that does good. Eagleman seems to be educating for creative science, which is a good idea. Is the idea that once the possibilities are accepted God’s Authority is gone?

The problem is that God’s Authority has a way of sticking around. A few of the comments “if we’re not hurting anyone”?? “honesty and truth”?? Seem to keep god in the picture. Mystics are always looking for a way to squirm through mental worm holes. One commentor said that scientists seem to say “I CRUSH YOU!!” The feeling that you are being pinned down to reality, and the feeling that you are being crushed, might be indistinguishable.

The question is what are we to commit to, if we can’t commit to atheism, or religious traditions? It seems from the comments that the inability to disprove fantasy, seems to validate living in one.

First things first. There are people who don’t have enough to eat. This can be scientifically proven. There are basic nutritional requirements, as well as individually measurable caloric needs.

The secret, or a few fishes and loaves, could possibly feed Canada’s hungry, and believing this might possibly ease our collective conscious. God, or the universe might intervene, but in a materialist world, systemic capitalism is provably intervening. And while we may feel powerless, and crushed by the material view, there are people suffering in the material world, while root causes are overlooked.

The consolation of philosophies and religion maintains very real power imbalances. Social sciences are themselves subject to power skewed visions and conclusions. But science in the tradition of the enlightenment should continue to name power biases, and pin us to the material, and the extremely complex clockwork.

When the choice is between a profit-driven world of objectifying science and an authoritarian world of mystifying religion, finding some other possibilities might be a good idea. I’d prefer something democratic, and warm-blooded. And honest. And this might be something to consider. It might be better to exclude through honest expression that to manipulate inclusive spaces through a false kind of acceptance.

A Household of Equality and Freedom

October 18, 2010

Thanks George for bringing this report to my attention, and for your thoughts on the report. I am limiting my remarks. When you write “All I can say to this is: WHAT?” you should have stopped there. That paragraph you pulled contains the kernel of the report’s error. I’d like to go on about this, but I think it’s important to keep comments short and to the point. (You can see already I have difficulty with this…)

In the service of brevity of comment, I’ve reduced your post to three lines.

This exclusion of Love being a component to Polygyny is a fundamental fault of the whole report.

On an even larger note, what right does the State have to “modify the social and cultural patterns of the conduct” of anyone?

…their sheer bias, Militant Feminism and lack of an objective approach to the subject does undermine the report validity.

It might be my Militant Feminism firing up but I tend to agree with the report. I think you might agree with it as well, but for your sheer bias and lack of an objective approach to the subject. What is the object/subject of the report? And what is your object/subject. Your subject is Love-based “well-functioning, equal, consensual and healthy Polygynous relationships.” This is not the subject of the report. The report is dealing with patriarchal religion-based unions. There is nothing equal or consensual about the subject/object of the report.

I would argue that the states right to modify the conduct of anyone is reciprocated and validated by anyone’s right to modify the conduct of the state. I recognize that we do not currently live in a democratic state, but the goals of this report are conducive to a future democracy. The goals of the report are the practical exercise of equal rights. Their argument is that that actually practiced polygyny (many wives) is unequal and should, in the interest of equality, be prohibited. I , in my militant feminism follow their argument to it’s logical conclusion.

I also recognize their bias toward monogamous marriage when they write:

“In addition to interfering with the right to private and family life, polygyny as practised in many cultural contexts also violates women’s rights to be free from all forms of stereotyping. Article 5 of the Women’s Convention requires States parties to: take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”

Their cultural bias blinds them to the stereotyped roles for men and women in traditional western marriage. A truly militant feminist would call for the abolition of marriage in all forms. We are opposed to domination in all forms mutual or otherwise.

I wonder if the household you seek to see legalized might not conform to the conditions sought in the report? Again the institution of marriage, even in Canada, is a bastion of inequality, and stereotypical roles, so the scapegoating of polygynous cultures, smacks of Muslim bashing. We have our own problems to deal with before outlawing African practices. I do not defend these practices, but to go after others before dealing with the inequality and cultural roles enmeshed in our own practices, seems more like dodging responsibility. But I was saying that the household you seek might conform to the equality and role-based freedom called for on the international stage.

“It is this commitment to a real transformation of institutions, such as polygyny, that provides the greatest protection for women within the family. Where States parties legally encourage, condone, or simply ignore unequal familial practices of polygyny, they perpetuate male paradigms of power, resulting in women’s de facto and de jure inequality. In striving to achieve this transformation, particularly within the familial realm, Article 16 of the Women’s Convention requires States parties: To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular [to] ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

(a) The same right to enter into marriage;

(b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

The only problem here is the “both” in (h), but ignoring that, if the man can choose a second wife, and the woman can equally choose a second husband, the household would conform to the call for equality. And if all living within the household, regardless of sex, had equal rights and freedom to choose roles, the household would not perpetuate male power and female inequality. And such a household, which may even conform to Aristotelian ethics, should not be illegal.

Matter in movement

October 16, 2010

This is a quote I came across recently. It’s been on the stickies on my desktop for a while. It seems very relevant now.

“The universe is the vast unity of everything that is, everywhere it shows us only matter in movement. This is all that there is and it displays only an infinite and continuous chain of causes and actions; some of these causes we know, since they immediately strike our senses; others we do not know since they act on us only by means of consequences, quite remote from first causes.” Holbach (1723 – 1789)

And I’d like to also note a quote from Anne Frank’s diary:

“I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

I’m still moving in, and this Saturday was to be a cleaning day. I’ve vacuumed, made beds, two meals, dishes, swept floors, folded laundry. But the kids, all three of them decided that this was going to be a playing day, so now despite all my effort the place is in a worse state than it was last night. This an hour before we have to leave for soccer. I’ve thrown in the towel for today.

But I wanted to write more about my enlightenment. The two quotes above are a good jumping off point. My enlightenment has no spiritual quality. On the contrary, I would argue against the existence of spirit. We are a complexity of matter in motion. I started yesterday’s post with a nod to my Catholic introduction to the world, but for the past 20 years I’ve been living in a physical world. That said, I’ve always had a willfully innocent belief in humanity, but today that belief is gone, there is for me today no truly human essence, no human heart, which is another word for spirit. Nothing ties us together other than physical relationships, and those are conditioned by our formative physical relationships. Love becomes a physical capability, or not. A body through deficient formative physical relationships may not have the capacity to love.

This enlightenment while rejecting spiritual humanism and hope, moves forward on the goal of a common good with physical humanism and action.

Here’s something I wrote on facebook today:

Oxygen and brain activity have a good relationship. There’s also a relationship between oxygen and autonomy, oxygen and creativity, oxygen and individuality. My theory (totally unsubstantiated, but it makes sense to me) is that each person’s potential for creativity, individuality, community, autonomy needs to be realized. (I don’t smoke anything ever, or drink, or use any depressants. So what follows isn’t veiled self-aggrandizement, if anything, with coffee and cola being my drugs of choice I might be on the other end of the spectrum…) Class, political economy, society, state institutions limit our development. That difference between the limit and the potential manifests as a personal problem. Those with the most potential become the most self destructive. The surplus potential, the extra life the limit won’t let us live, must be destroyed. What I’m saying is that addiction is not only a personal problem, it’s a personal reaction to social/cultural/state oppression.

Oppression affects our health, which is the very thing we need to overcome oppression. Keep up the struggle for your health and development!!! Love.

Moving House

October 16, 2010

When I give the time since I last did something, like say, it’s been a little over a month since my last blog post, I often find myself back in the confessional of my youth. I note this, only as a note. It has nothing to do with what follows, and what follows (as yet unwritten) I can say with some certainty will be a collection of loosely related notes.

Since the first of this month I’ve been without a home internet connection. And in the weeks prior to the first of this month I was packing up everything for our second major move this year. I want to note the nostalgia that comes over in the packing stage, and it may be that with three children, and being a collector, and living with a collector, a better word might be keeper, we’re definitely keepers of cards, letters, diaries, photos, ribbons, teeth, hair, drawings, paintings, toys, lunch pails, books, magazines and a being a keeper means having an interest in the things being kept. So packing is a slow process as all those interesting things are examined as they are moved into boxes. The experience is overwhelming, at least for a writer imagining the possibility of typing out the experience all at once.

There is an idea here. Once I’m settled in this new place, and I’m guessing that might be another couple weeks, I’d like to occasionally go through the collections, and write about something that inspires. That may not have come across earlier, but the overwhelming I was talking about was in part inspiration to write, just too much inspiration all at once.

There sure are a lot of reasons working against writing regularly. If it’s not too much inspiration, it’s too little, and inspiration hasn’t even been the biggest issue behind my low word count.  This post is pointless, and really, the only writing I ever do is a kind of incoherent rambling, but I’m more often than not blocked by a desire to get it right and then put it out, of course I never get it right. I think I’ve managed to overcome that block, we’ll see.

So much has changed over the past year, not just changing buildings. When Jimi Hendrix asks, “Have you ever been experienced?” I’d today answer that I have. I am definitely experienced, after a lifetime of sheltered experience, I’ve been in some pretty hairy spots, but until this past year, I’ve never had pure experience. I’ve been telling people that I’m enlightened. That I’m the motherfucking buddha. And I’m not kidding. I have been experienced.

I have seen The Trotsky, which is worth seeing. The scene where Leon’s being interviewed by the ex-Prime Minister’s son, and his lawyer/lover pulls the plug on the interview as he’s about to reveal that he is in fact the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky is relevant here. It’s crazy to claim enlightenment (or reincarnation) or any other form of mysticism. Eckhart Tolle suffered a psychotic break and sold millions of copies of the book that puts his psychosis right out there, but he’s still crazy. I can’t yet articulate the enlightenment other than through jokes. I am not really the Buddha, not even the motherfucking buddha, but I have definitely been experienced, lived a series of epiphanies, become enlightened.

I started writing up Siddhartha a few years back but never finished. I should give it another try, with all this enlightenment talk. There was also something about fatherhood I wanted to write up but never got around to it.

And finally I’ve come to terms with work for hire. This is part of my enlightenment and best left for future articulation. I’ve had an issue with maintaining my personal integrity in work for hire. As a person, I have no interest in manipulating others. If you are not interested in something, it ends there for me. I can not sell anything. Wouldn’t win your vote. I let the worst happen before giving up my own, even hypothetical, autonomy. Your autonomy I will not mess with. It’s not morality or an ethic, of course I will develop it into an ethic, for now it’s more on a level of personal comfort. So while I was a full-time stay-at-home parent, I was expecting to go back into teaching when the time came. But now as a part-time stay-at-home parent looking for part-time work-for-hire the thought of teaching is repulsive, at least in the regular classroom with kids who don’t really want to be there.

I’ve found something I like to do and will start writing about it as soon as I’m settled. The content will fit seemlessly here, but I’ll also be posting it on a work-based blog. There might be some editing. We’ll see. Always a work in progress…