Thursday, October 29, 2009

De Mundi Systemate

New Blog, for anyone who stumbles upon this very old one...

It's awesome...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fate's Acquittal

Anyone still visiting this site for any reason would be better spending their time reading the incredible and fascinating instead!

That truly is a story worth reading!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

You're Everything to Me

You make me feel so sweet. So, why do you do this to me? Or rather, why do I do this to myself? I know you are his, at least for now, so why does it hurt so when you go to him? Are you just playing or do I mean something, anything? Damn, you mean everything right now. You’re everywhere, and when I close my eyes you’re there. Because you’re everything. To me. And there’s nothing I can do. I tried damn hard to ignore you, I wanted to leave you to yourself. I wanted not to care. You ruined everything and give me nothing. I know you don’t like it this way but don’t you see it can’t be? You must do something. This is in your hands and I hate that too. There’s nothing I can do. Because you’re everything to me and I’m not the only one.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Meeting...

I sat down opposite her. I saw the way her fringe caught in her eyelashes and fanned across her face. Her eyes, glimpses caught between strands of hair pushed away from her face, were beautiful. They were emphasised by dark eyeliner and mascara, like a sapphire floating in a bowl of milk surrounded by an ocean of black ink. I lost myself in them. I must have been staring quite evidently. She glanced across at me, taking me in at a flash from top to bottom, and then returned her eyes to her newspaper. I bashfully looked at my feet.
Quickly I sought a book from my bag. A copy of Borges in original Spanish, or a translation of Chekhov? Was she a languages girl or more of a lit chick? I looked at her again, this time seeking out details that would describe her to me. Even as I approached this detached and scientific task I found my eyes rushing headlong to her face and her lovely light brown cascade of hair. I forced myself to examine the details. No ring. No necklace. Either she had no passion for jewellery or, God willing, she had no one to give it to her. She wore a flower patterned knee length plaid skirt with slip-on sandals. Her calves angled firmly in to her ankles in a perfectly delicate way. For a top she wore a simple white shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows.
Lit Chick.
I opened Chekhov and began reading Misfortune, a story about a woman won over from her husband by the passionate ardour of a would-be suitor. “How vile I am!” exclaimed the lady on finding herself unable to resist. I looked up suddenly at the girl and caught her looking directly at me. We locked eyes for a moment; she had not averted her gaze instantaneously as many may have done. We both looked back down at our reading. My heart was thumping. Did she look at me from curiosity or something more? I found in considering the question I had reverted to staring at her once again. Snapping out of my reverie I tore myself away from abandoned admiration of her eyes and concluded that she had no doubt been looking at me to assess exactly how dangerous a potential stalker I might be. Perhaps.
Our train was travelling through dense urban landscape and stopped regularly. As the stops went by I realised nothing could come of this. The bottom line was that I was too chicken to make a move in a city where no one dared speak to an unknown companion. Nonetheless, I challenged myself. I inwardly did solemnly declare that should she alight at the same stop as me, then I would seek her out and invite her to join me for a coffee. My stop came closer, just three, two, one, to go. She was still there. My stop came and I stood. I looked down at her and she saw that I was about to go. She turned to look at me and beamed a radiant and full smile at me. She had felt the same as me! She too had been caught in admiration, however slight, and had been prevented from pursing it by that same abstract fear of the anonymous face of the city. Now that she knew I was departing, and she would lose me forever to the depths of the city, now she was safe to at least hint at her true feelings.
I took a step towards the door, grinning back at her like a maniac and practically tripping over the others in the carriage. I paused. Now I was starting to look the fool. This was my stop, that much was obvious to anyone, but it seemed such a waste to leave now that the imaginary traffic light above her head was green. My delay lost me my chance to leave and the doors closed behind me. She regarded me quizzically, no doubt mildly alarmed to find me still there when she had betrayed herself in promise of safety. I sat down on the free seat by her side. Adrenalin flowed so fully through my arteries that I feared I might be unable to produce a single coherent word. I opened my mouth to speak and the sound of my voice seemed to come from somewhere else, “Hi.” I said. She smiled at me cautiously. “If you get off at the next stop,” I said, “then I’ll buy you a coffee.” She turned her face half away from me; her side profile showed a half raised eyebrow and lips that stayed close together but revealed a smile of temptation. “Alright,” she said, “you’re on!”

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ranges of Intelligence

"It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value."
~ Arthur C. Clarke
In my work I meet people from more or less every conceivable background. My current position in law is such that yesterday I was defending a down and out beggar on a charge of assaulting a police officer, and yet today I am advising an engineer on the legal implications of his contract with a local council. Tomorrow I'll probably be pleading that a loan shark shouldn't take some lady's Mercedes. Now, I don't pretend that the background of a person determines their intelligence, that is clearly wrong, but such varied exposure to different areas of society does present a wide view. What never ceases to amaze me is the variety of intelligence displayed by different people.
I'll quickly define my meaning of intelligence: "the ability to perceive the meaning and implication of one's surroundings."
It really can be anything from simply understanding a legal concept upon explanation to conducting an intelligible (even interesting?!) conversation. It's about understanding the effects of actions and the meanings of static concepts. I'm no closer to defining it am I? My definition, in short, attempts to define intelligence by reference to perception, rather than 'knowledge' or 'wisdom' ('wisdom' seems to me to be 'experience' applied to 'perception').
The question, then, is how does it happen? I have some vague idea how evolution works. I've studied it, thought about it, and examined it in nature about me. I have a great deal of difficulty in understanding how it accounts for the vast chasm between, on the one hand, someone who does not see the causative link between spending money and finding you have none left, and on the other, someone who can describe the rules of our very existence with algebraic equations.
Or, the person who doesn't understand that if you hit someone, they'll hit you back, compared to Sun Tzu. Paris Hilton compared to Aristotle. George Bush to Einstein.
It's the bell curve, right? But what, is the church tower the size of a city?
I think the answer may lie in a continuation of a debate I posted a while back, namely that evolution has been surpassed by humanity.
If humanity was still governed by natural evolution then stupidity would be slowly eliminated. Humanity would tend to greater and greater intelligence. Instead, something quite different is happening. It isn't evolution, but it still follows some of the same patterns. It seems that now the stupid will copulate with the stupid, and the intelligent likewise. But both have a similar chance of survival - and crucially, both chances are high enough to sustain their respective populations.
BUT, as the stupid copulate with the stupid, and the intelligent copulate with the intelligent, the bell curve gets wider and wider. I think that sinice the dawn of civilisation this process has been accelerating, and it will continue. In the end it may well be that a new classification system is required: sub-human; human; super-human. And the 'human' category will thin out and eventually disappear as its remnants tend to one side or another.
Could it be that humanity is coming to dividing point? Will the castes split?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The War

It was, of course, Remembrance Sunday yesterday. (At least it was in England, I don't know when you American dudes remember the war heroes.)

I personally was playing football on a muddy and littered pitch in East London yesterday, but even there the Ref made us stand around the centre circle in silence for half an hour to pay our respects.

Now I'm not one for being particularly 'current' in my blog. There are thousands of others doing that already and I certainly don't think I have anything different to say about it...

...But my grandfather does.
A while back he wrote a fantastic account of the Dieppe Raid. It's about 20 pages long and one of the best reads I've come across. He describes the fear of being shelled on a ship, having the man by your side shot in the head and then the experience of drowning out at sea...
"The question demanding an immediate answer was, should I retreat to the beach and be taken by the Germans, or continue out to sea in the hope, now somewhat tenuous, of being picked up? I decided to press on.
My life jacket, which had so far given me good service, now seemed to be losing its bouyancy. As I continued swimming I appeared to be lower in the water. My legs, instead of being fairly horizontal behind me, now inclined deeper as they tried to thrust me forward. I rested more frequently, and instead of trying to float on my back, I found that it required less effort just to stop swimming and gently tread water. I don't know how long this continued. I was cold, had swallowed too much sea, my vomiting was painful and my eyes felt raw. Gradually I lost the strength to even tread water, and after floating legs down for a while, I became aware that I was drowning. My brain seemed to accept the thought without fuss as if my will to survive was about to 'throw in the towel'.
I was suddenly enveloped in a smoke screen. The acrid stuff caused more vomiting and coughing and more swallowing of salt water. Now, only my nose was above the surface of the sea. Is is said that drowning people are visited by a kaleidoscope of snapshots of their previous experience. This mental phenomenon came to me and the pictures it brought were so clear it was as if they were the reality and my drowning was only a dream. Then, abruptly, the dream dissolved into a new reality.
Around me a gap appeared in the smoke and there not twenty yards away was a small craft with smoke spouting out of the canisters at its side."
Yes, that's how close I was to never existing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Origins of the Universe

A short break from 'neutrality' for an alternative discussion: (though all discussions by implication have associations with neutrality!)
Here are a few options for 'origin of the universe':
['universe' = "everything that exists anywhere". However, for the purposes of this discussion, I intend to expand this definition to "...anywhere and anywhen"]
1. A deity created it.
2. It was produced by the big bang.
3. It has no origin, and has existed 'forever'.
4. It originated at its own end (it is a product of circular time - its end is its beginning.)
5. It is a tiny part (piece of dirt) in an inconceivably larger universe (someone's backyard).
6. It does not exist.
Here are my replies:
1. To be terribly unoriginal: what is the origin of the deity? The answer to this question would usually be suggestion #3 above, in which case this suggestion can be considered implicitly there. This would usually be backed up by the definition of most 'gods' as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. 'omnipresent' one can assume, means not only present at all places simultaneously but also present at all times simultaneously; thus, without 'determination'. To accept this suggestion would be total rebellion against logic, and would require a vast leap of faith. Further, this suggestion requires defining the deity in question as somehow outside the meaning of 'everything'. Interestingly, in both Egyptian and Greek myths, the first gods are themselves borne out of the 'void' or 'chasm of darkness'. This implies a sort of neutral absence of matter, or a lack of anything, and hence an exception to the requirements of the definition of universe ['absolute absence' is not contained within 'everything']. This, of course, presents the additional problem of creating 'something' from 'nothing'. However, as shall be seen, any of these suggestions requires just that.
2. The same question applies: what is the origin of the big bang? In this case, however, there are no theological (and untestable) answers. Perhaps one might say that the big bang was created by the total compression of a previous universe (a common theory), in which case this suggestion becomes a subcategory of suggestion #4 (but a cycle of matter rather than time). Clearly, though the big bang may well be an answer to the question "What created this, our present universe?", it is not an answer to "What is the origin of the universe."
3. This answer is pretty similar (as already suggested) to #1. In other words, it requires an illogical leap of faith. 'Illogical' only because, at present, there is no logic known to man's philosophies to support it. The simple point is that man cannot conceive of infinite time, it is not within our current capacity. This, although a philosophic possibility, is no more acceptable than belief in creation by deity.
4. This suggestion suggest looping time. Implicit in such a suggestion is the concept of 'closure'. In other words, this loop creates a concept of a 'closed loop' of time. The problem with 'closure' is that it is completely incompatible with any concept of the infinite. And the problem with that is that anything which is not infinite must, by definition, have 'room' for something more along its axis of existence. For example, if one were to think of time as being represented in one dimension (a piece of string), non-circular time is an infinite length of string whereas if one loops the piece of string along a curved single dimension (such as the circumference of a sphere) then that leaves room for other (spheres) on either side. Of course, it could be suggested that this 'extra room' is merely a repetition of the journey around the same circumference. Essentially, it seems to me that looped time, as a concept, cannot account for "everything that exists anywhere and anywhen".
5. This is clearly not an answer, but a mere (and vain) attempt to explain the infinite. It is perfectly obvious that were one to pursue this line one could progress through an infinite series of 'universes' and be absolutely none the wiser.
6. This is really a question for Descartes, and another time. "I think, therefore I am."
So where does this leave us? I would suggest it leaves us thoroughly without an answer. I would like to think that the answers lies somewhere in between it all. It seems to me that there may be a fabric of 'existence' the like of which we cannot presently conceive; a 'divine state' if you like. This fabric would be capable of being at the same time 'neutral' [nothingness] and yet still possess an inherent potential. This would be the 'void' out of which the gods sprung.
Hundreds of years ago people believed that rotten meat turned into flies...
....Will we one day craft a microscope powerful enough to see the egg out of which we hatched?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Today my foolish imagination has posed me a brand new question:
"Is the attainment of 'Zen' an attainment of Neutrality?"
This question is a bit of a problem for me because I actually don't know very much about Zen, save for that which I vaguely recall from "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse, which, so far as I recall, was all about becoming 'one' with a river. (I should probably re-read it).
After a brief bit of internet research to correct my ignorance I have discovered that the question I posed myself is extremely badly stated, since 'Zen' is, itself, a religion, rather than a state. It is, for anyone interested, a form of buddhism (as may be obvious) and it constitutes a way of life made up mostly of two forms of meditation, sitting and walking.
What I am really after, it seems, is "Bodhi". This is the name given to the state of 'enlightenment'. Following Buddhist ideals, one must grasp the 'perfections' (of which there are usually said to be ten, including 'serenity', 'generosity', 'virtue', 'honesty' etc), and the 'four noble truths' (which relate rather fascinatingly to suffering and the ways in which it can be battled). If one is succesful then one sheds all ego-centred consciousness and frees oneself from the cycle of life-suffering-death-rebirth.
Well, I'm glad I asked myself the question, that was a useful little exercise in education. Now, to analyse:
It seems to me key that if a man attains 'Bodhi' then he sheds ego-centredness. This is a fascinating concept for the philosophies of neutrality! The implication is that in this state a man is free of subjective consideration. This (theoretical?) state is quite remarkable. The ability to reason without subjectivitiy seems an impossible concept to me, but if it is true that 'Bodhi' represents such a thing then herein lies an answer to many of the questions I have so far considered.
In some ways it makes some sense. You spend years and years of your life devoted to extinguishing all acts of selfishness and promoting all states of detachment from suffering. (The stoics theorised at similar targets, but none I know of pursued them with this verve and determination). At the end of it, and only if you truly have devoted yourself to the act, some lucky few might finally detach themselves from subjective concern.
I consider this a worthy concept and not at all ludicrous. There is definite philosophick worth in it. However, it seems to me that the next leap of a consequent escape from the circle of life is ludicrous and represents the point at which this philosophick ideal becomes religion.
Truly, it seems to me, the attainment of 'Bodhi' may represent 'neutrality in life'.
It's all rather exciting really. Although, of course, excitement is far too emotive, and represents my ego's thrill at the possibility of personal enlightment. Therein lies a grave concern: in order to attain enlightenment, one must devote one's life to careful practice and meditation, but in order to complete the process, one must detach oneself from all personal drive! This paradox must be, I imagine, the stumbling block of many. I should suppose that it is the final test: having worked so hard all your life to achieve something, you must then inwardly accept that your own personal achievement of it is irrelevant (i.e. it wouldn't matter to you if you never did achieve it).
Interesting stuff.

Monday, October 31, 2005

What is 'Holy Crap'?

Things have been a little serious around this site for the last few weeks. I'd like therefore to continue in that vein and consider the essential and potentially planet saving question of "What is Holy Crap?"
Could it be Jesus' shit?
Often said to mark incredulity, perhaps this subtle and unconsidered phrase is actually a clue to an important fact. Perhaps it is telling us that there is no such thing as holy crap, and that crap is, by definition, unholy.
In this sense, is 'holy crap' neutral, or aneutral?
One's first inclination would be to say that holy crap must be 'good', because it's holy, right? On the other hand, however, it is crap, so that makes it 'bad', right? Then again, as discussed above, perhaps it doesn't exist at all, in which case (assuming non-existence = neutrality [which is a big assumption]) 'holy crap' = 'neutral'.
There we have it folks, you may say "Holy Crap!" without fear now, safe in the knowledge that you are preserved in your neutrality. Thank God, the father of all holy crap.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Frames of Objectivity

If you place a piece of coal on water it will sink.
If you put it on earth it will sit motionless.
If you put it in mid air it will fall. (Unless perfectly balanced in space between two separate gravitational forces - if such a perfect balance is humanly, or mathematically possible)
If you pit the piece of coal into fire, it will burn.

The point?

The placement of an object in different mediums yields different results.
What about the placement of an idea into different frames of reference?
See my post below for an example involving murder.
The challenge is to find the frame of reference which provides the most objective 'result' when analysing the given idea. Perhaps an initial question to ask is whether the answer will vary depending on the idea, or whether there is one grand framework which would provide the most objective 'result' for every given idea.
Before even that can be answered however, one needs to create and define the set of 'frameworks'. This, at first glance, is a difficult thing to do. Must it be done by 'listing', or can it be done by defining a collection of (not necessarily finite) subsets? Well, let's give it a go and see what we can come up with. Here's my start:
  1. Subset of all religious frameworks.
  2. Subset of all legal systems.
  3. Subset of all socio-political frameworks (i.e types of government - democracy, monarchy, communism, autocracy, despotism etc.)
  4. Subset of all variations on the above contained in the personal codes of all (human) individuals.
  5. Subset of all frameworks not already included in the above list which contain an overriding paragon (such as Darwin's theory of evolution in which the overriding paragon is survival).
  6. The absolute framework (by which I mean, the total absence of any framework, or 'anarchy'.)
  7. Pure free-will. (Any different to 'anarchy'?)
  8. Chaos Theory. (Or 'anarchy with imperceptible order').
  9. Determinism. (Fate - meaning all our actions are pre-determined).
  10. Buddism. (Which in my view isn't a religion in the relevant sense).

That's all I could I could think of in five minutes, so I'm sure there are plenty more. Of course, in truth, to find 'THE' objective framework (for everything or any given idea) one would need to consider every framework, though perhaps the subsets could be dismissed as a group in some cases.

Well, that's an attack on the first stage of this important question. Suggestions and input would be very welcome. When adding to the list bear in mind that 'Subset of all philosophical frameworks' does not count, it's cheating!