"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."
"He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, 'I am looking for a human.'"
“In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.”
I attempt to guide my life by the Pāramitās.
I remain a fallible human and an ardent vacillator.
“I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I'm gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
INFJ. My Enneagram results have thus far been inconclusive. I could identify as a 4w5, 5w4, 1w2, or 9w1 on any given day. I am large. I contain multitudes. I consider myself an anarcho-pacifist, and depending on the day, a panentheist or a pandeist.
There is no dogma in an intellectually coherent world-view, be it scientific or mystical. If, at any point, an individual refuses to accept reality, they have caused their own, personal universe to shrink by just that much. Eventually they become so burdened by their own preconceptions that their lives become nothing more than worn and barren hells, filled with sardonic caricatures of humanity, left to live out their days as pale husks, in a rote and tortuous farce of existence.
Potential is wasted everywhere and that is the greatest sadness. Terrestrial life could achieve a asymptotic perfection in mere generations if sentient beings truly recognized the latent promise in mankind. The only thing holding life back are its own self-imposed limitations. The universe has conspired successfully to bring life into existence--let's not waste the opportunity.
There is no justification for the notion that we should rape the earth, produce nothing but garbage, steal from and murder indigenous people, impose our will on the world, and all the while assume that we know better than the total system (i.e. everything) that's been in place for billions of years. The myth of Phaethon perfectly illustrates the folly of such hubris.
When one has grasped the fundamental element of a phenomenon, the why of it, investigating all particular instances of that phenomenon is a form of distraction from reality. It is entirely enough to know that men can kill each other instead of focusing on a grotesque investigation of every possible case of it.
Bureaucracy and explicit rules are two of the most damaging elements of modern society. They are nothing but soulless monoliths diffused throughout a consensus reality. They turn humans into shadowy cogs in a giant edifice that empowers neither the bureaucrats nor those they are supposed to serve. Prescriptive morality is no morality at all.
All religions have the same message; that of compassion towards all (and I mean all, not simply humans) and a turning away from material existence. Individuals have systematically perverted this message to advocate its exact opposite--an exploitative, materialist, and violent world for all.
History was the path of least resistance in my academic career. However, the truth is that history needs to be learned from, not merely learned. The analysis of events past prevents knowledge of the present day. Willing is not enough; we must do."
The works of humans long dead that were hallowed for centuries have been cast off as archaic effluvia in an age of materialist dogma. It is the lazy equivalent of fascism--you don't need to burn books if no one is reading them. Countless empires and civilizations have risen and fallen yet no lessons have been learned, no paths have been changed. All that is begun must end.
Sacred texts are fascinating, but in the manner of traditional hermeneutics, not piecemeal analysis. To treat texts that have been constructed as beacons of meaning as straightforward and superficial is an obscene vulgarity. Religions were founded by mystics, not automatons.
Determinism is fundamentally true. Probability is only causality that has yet to be fully explored by the perceiver. A god of the gaps style argument for a noumenous concept of free-will is on inherently untenable grounds.
Cooperation and competition are two sides of the same coin. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." If materials are limited, it makes sense to choose who gets what, but in times of near-endless bounty, it is self-defeating to be stingy. We live in an era of the latter category; we should freely give to those who live without.
Money is simply a form of explicated social capital. The implications of this observation demonstrate the total inefficiency and lack of equilibrium if viewed from today's context. See the income disparity of CEOs and line-workers (Currently 380 to 1). Also note the implications of an unbridled fiat currency. Individuals and corporations are accumulating obscene quantities of social capital by doing nothing but maintaining the edifice. Good karma for merely existing.
Existentialism, homeland security, and "helicopter" parents are all the shadow of a single phenomenon. When a system loses its function through its own successes, hypersensitivity to arbitrary agents occurs. It is fundamentally an allergic reaction, blown out of proportion, to common environmental realities. Like allergies, we can overcome them by gradual desensitization and subversion of the reactionary elements involved.
Metaphor is a component of life and language that is rapidly fading in a world dominated by positivism and technology. Who today understands the four elements with the same gravity as those living two thousand years ago? Who would understand the relevance of flocks and shepherds when the only experience given to them of animal husbandry was a brief visit to a petting zoo? The beauty of symbols is that they allow for more than simple delineation, but what happens when that beauty is stripped away in favor of symbols of single variables? What happens to poetry when a cigar is just a cigar?
The most illustrative example of this is the point of distinction between those who have these knowledges and those who don't: there isn't one. Professional intellectuals, probabilistically, are indistinguishable from any other individual involved in intellectual labor, and to most extents, those who aren't. The professor lives precisely like the claims-adjuster. This is the paradox of professionalism—it incentivizes engaging with their art only when money and advancement are involved. If the field does not actually lead to any real change in behavior in the practitioner, then why bother? It becomes yet another hollow display of social value to other humans, which, while facilitating the road to progeny, is an antithesis of an ideal wisdom.
"Since I no longer expect anything from mankind except madness, meanness, and mendacity; egotism, cowardice, and self-delusion, I have stopped being a misanthrope."
From the basis of this quote, which in essence is fundamentally true, self-happiness can derived from it's introspective equivalent. That is to say, when we accept that we ourselves have not been any other way but duplicitous, hypocritical, cowardly, or wrathful, then sadness has no place for that creature, for our expectations are never dashed and can only be exceeded.
tl;dr: Love is the well-spring that allows a non-violent existence. Until love is established firmly in the heart of humanity, there will be no escape from pain and anguish.
I am also learning skill-sets that are fundamentally important to maintaining human existence outside of conventional industrial production. There is an impediment of intergenerational silence that continues to frustrate learning these skills, but I'm working on making connections with those who can teach me.
I am attempting to exist in a coherent and ethical manner. This has taken the form of doing manual labor so I can help generate "honest" capital to help finance the startup of a worker-owned cooperative.
I feel my time on this planet is most appropriately spent fostering and stewarding the universe, the earth, and deprogramming its inhabitants from their own circumstantial illusions and atrophied sense of freedom. This includes constantly and consistently distancing myself further from violence, exploitation, and division whenever it is perceived.
"Read no newspapers, try to find a few friends who think as you do, read the wonderful writers of earlier times, Kant, Goethe, Lessing, and the classics of other lands, and enjoy the natural beauties of Munich's surroundings. Make believe all the time that you are living, so to speak, on Mars among alien creatures and blot out any deeper interest in the actions of those creatures. Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you.
Bear in mind that those who are finer and nobler are always alone — and necessarily so — and that because of this they can enjoy the purity of their own atmosphere."
I'd also like to eventually write and/or lecture on my gleaning of wisdom from reality--basically philosophical and metaphysical treatises that attempt to explicate the seeds of my worldview in a concise manner.
I am also desperately in search of something that cannot truly be named. It is beauty. It is perfection. It is harmony. It is infinite and eternally real. It is an a-rational feeling that drives me absolutely every day to make things more of what they are. It is a feeling that is both outside and inside time. Words cannot do it justice.
Constructing grand theories that, by the limits of contingent logic and representation, cannot be objectively rendered in a discourse, but can only be inferred indirectly through metaphor and parable.
A quote from Spinoza articulates quite summarily my views on social analysis: "I have laboured carefully, not to mock, lament, or execrate, but to understand human actions."
"I agree with your remark about loving your enemy as far as actions are concerned. But for me the cognitive basis is the trust in an unrestricted causality. 'I cannot hate him, because he must do what he does.'"
And for the record, I possess this beard for many reasons, all of them meaningful. I have stubble: I am past adolescence. I have a beard; I am a man. I have an untrimmed beard: it is futile to resist the inevitable. I have a mane: I refuse to obey petty vanities and social conventions. It is my covenant with the universe that the inevitable is necessary, that what is sustainable is ideal, that commitment requires sacrifice, that what is natural is real, and that I am who I am, not what I seem after grooming myself of inconvenient realities. Contrary to the ideas of normative culture, I have a home, a job, and exemplary hygiene.
And for kicks, a couple of beard quotes:
‘The absence of justice is dishonorable only where there ought to be justice. For example, not having a beard is not dishonorable for a man who is not yet supposed to have a beard, but once he ought to have a beard, it is unbecoming for him not to have one. In the same way, not having justice is not a defect in a nature that is not obligated to have justice, but it is disgraceful for a nature that ought to have it. And to whatever degree his being supposed to have a beard shows his manly nature, to that degree his not having it disfigures his manly appearance."
"In England and America a beard usually means that its owner would rather be considered venerable than virile; on the continent of Europe it often means that its owner makes a special claim to virility."
Movies: Good Will Hunting, The Fountain, The Lion King, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Godfather, Groundhog Day, Visioneers, Apocalypto, Network
Documentaries: Psywar, Human Resources, Lifting the Veil, Rise Like Lions (all of these publicly available here), Collapse, Into Great Silence, The Century of the Self, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, Koyaanisqatsi, The Buddha, Samsara
Music: Radiohead, The Decemberists, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, John Lennon, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Jose Gonzales, Iron & Wine, Pink Floyd, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Billy Bragg, Dick Gaughan, The Talking Heads
Food: Edible, ethical, and on a low trophic level. Lentils, black beans, buckwheat, quinoa, kale, oats, avocados, nutritional yeast, sriracha.
Phonemes: Subterfuge, Mellifluous, Pusillanimous, Grandiloquent
Concepts: Justice, Equilibrum, Harmony, Stigmergy, Enantiodromia, Shibboleths, Exformation, Dialectics
Words untranslatable in English: Weltschmerz, Mottainai, Toska, Litost, Mono no aware, Mamihlapinatapai, Saudade
Historical unknowns: Simone Weil, Thomas Sankara, Theodore Kaczynski, Thomas Merton, David Dellinger, Jacques Ellul, Mikhail Bakunin, Petr Chelčický
Historical knowns: Francis of Assisi, Genghis Khan, Ashoka, Eugene Debs, Che Guevara, Siddhartha Gotama, George Patton, Leo Tolstoy
"Nothing to fear in God, nothing to feel in death, good can be attained, evil can be endured." --Diogenes of Oenoanda
"Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do."
“You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”
--George Bernard Shaw
"Know, Sancho, I was born in this Iron Age to restore the Age of Gold."
"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
"Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profane riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet's words."
--Abraham Joshua Heschel
"He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despite, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."
As far as experiences that I would prefer not to part with:
Artifice. Mankind has a unique talent for being completely separated from each other, never *knowing* another mind actually exists, but still finding themselves able and willing to evoke convenient emotions through their own creations. To not have that would be to live in a world without laughter, love, or happiness.
Rain. Some of the simplest and greatest human experiences involve rain. Frolicking in a warm May shower. Huddling near a window with friends and family, warm beverages in their hands, watching a majestic light show from the Heavens. Reading a book, the patter of a storm drowning out the white noise of modern living. The smell of the earth after the storm finishes. The verdant green that results after a well needed watering. These are all pure joyful human moments that everyone should experience in their lives.
Wikipedia. This is education, stripped of all regimentation, examination, temporal structure, passion, and judgment. It is the demonstration that order and stigmergy can lead to a just outcome. It is a bastion of free information, supplied without advertising, commodification, or a professional class. A display of successful democracy and the plethora of good will in the world. The entire scope of human learning, accessible to anyone on the planet with an internet-ready device. Random noise and meaningless destruction is exorcised immediately and without malice. Superior designs are resurrected from the past if they are needed. It is a perfection of human communication, cooperation, and a certain path away from the darkness of ignorance. There is so much more to learn.
Nature. There is a common fear of the seeming chaos of the true wilderness that oftentimes results in humans making futile attempts to separate themselves from it. This leads to a feeling of security or transcendence beyond those spaces devoid of human interaction. I feel that this is a rational outcome, but certainly not optimal. I have come from the protean bowels of the earth and I will return to it one day. Living means nothing without being connected to what comprises you. I cannot live without the experience of having a space in which I have no territory: a space in which I cannot hide my delusions, nor harbor any sentiment of omnipotence. It is the eternal teacher.
Physical contact. The very nature of physical contact requires vulnerability and intimacy. It is a simultaneous proactivity of trust and social gravity. It is a wholely positive force for me that leaves me with a sense of well-being and general euphoria.
Dreaming. My dreamscapes are labyrinths in which I am ungrounded but never lost. The vibrant communications of my unconscious, a-rational mind are transcendentally beautiful, compelling, and captivating. Interacting with the memories of these adventures provides a wealth of self-knowledge and comfort that is auxiliary to the direct experience of the other.
And for a bonus: harsh, unrelenting honesty. I have a need to know the truth. The only way for me to arrive at any approximation of truth is to have my expectations of reality shattered by reality itself. This requires feedback that is not coming from within my own subjectivity due to the intrinsically blind spots of unknown-unknowns.
The world is both more complex than anyone knows and more simple than anyone believes. Our notions of animal intelligence is of the former, world hunger and war, the latter. Education is complex, but a solution to its improvement is simple enough. Give each child as they enter third grade a $200 laptop, loaded with Wikipedia, Enki, Brain Workshop, Project Gutenberg, with immediate access to LiveMocha, Khan Academy, and OpenCourseWare. Give them the sum of human information and the tools to understand it, rather than standardization of humanity and teaching to the middle. Montesori on steroids rather than Prussian mechanization.
Also, I spend a lot of time pondering social dynamics, power dynamics, rational self-interest, rational action derived from that self-interest, whether rational action can ever be included in a just world (i.e. "justifiable"), whether rational action can ever lead to a just world, whether deontology and utilitarianism can be rectified in a non-dichotomous fashion, whether individuals should be left autonomously to discover principles that rattle the foundations of their ontology, whether this solution is too unmerciful, whether human autonomy is a myth, whether silence in consciousness indicates a perfect mirroring of reality, et cetera ad infinitum.
The vast majority, if not all, of these reflections are veiled considerations of my own life. However, this doesn't mean they don't apply to reality--they are simply tangential with each other in a multi-layered metaphor. When I hear any imperative of an objective reality, I perceive it as the unconscious demarcation of a subjectivity and the speaker's ability to transcend it. Self-expression, if stifled sufficiently, must always find another avenue.
I'm not nearly as verbose in reality, but I'm just as manic in thought. I'm contemplative to a fault. This profile is simply a nice canvas for a literary work that facilitates development and communication amongst others of similar veins.
"This interconnection or accommodation of all created things to each other, and each to all the others, brings it about that each simple substance has relations that express all the others, and consequently, that each simple substance is a perpetual, living mirror of the universe."
I have a knee-jerk impulse to immediately ignore people who use David Sedaris, Radiolab, or NPR as conversation set pieces. You are the quiet death of culture.
I was feeling very misanthropic when I wrote that.
Or if you are blunt, self-aware, complex, proud, enthusiastic, anti-consumerist, frugal, heterodox, practical.