Creativity, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Enlightenment, From Around the Net, Goals, Human Nature, Invention, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Life, Meaning, New Idea, Purpose, Quality of Life, Religion, Spirituality, Thinking, Truth

“It Was so Obvious, No One Understood it at All”

(about a 5 minute read)

So often in life, the obvious masks a truth rather than…well, rather than makes a truth obvious.  I suspect that’s because when we think something is obvious, we have a tendency to look no further than it.

“That’s obvious.  Case closed.”

You notice a pretty girl strongly favors red clothing, which goes strikingly well with her dark hair and complexion, and her blue eyes.  It’s obvious why red is her favorite color, so you never ask her what her favorite is.

Continue reading ““It Was so Obvious, No One Understood it at All””

Allies, Brotherly Love, Capitalism, Citizenship, Community, Competition, Consumerism, Cultural Traits, Culture, Fairness, Free Market Capitalism, Friends, From Around the Net, Giving, Human Nature, Life, Morality, Obligations to Society, Philos, Society, Values

Never Break the Circle

(About a 1 minute read)

Years ago, there was Mike,
A Native American man who belonged
To the people of a Southwest nation,
And who was trying to teach his son
The people’s traditional values.

Can you imagine how tough that was?
Maybe the values are the same
But the world is not.
No, it’s not the same at all.
But Mike was determined,
Still made the effort.

Each weekend he drove his boy
Eight hundred miles South
To the villages where
He could play with his cousins,
Talk with his grandparents,
Learn from the whole village
How to walk with one foot on the earth,
And with the other foot firmly planted
In the spirit world.

His son made Mike proud.
Once the whole community
Gathered to share candy —
I think Mike called it,
“Halloween, Hopi style.”

Forming a circle of young and old,
The people tossed the candies around
For several minutes, catching and tossing
Back the candies, the people shared
A good thing in life, and stopped
Only when everyone had something sweet.

Everyone.

“Cooperation”, Mike told me,
“It’s how the people live.
Not like what he learns in school.
There it’s fight for yourself,
Live for your close kin alone,
And screw all the rest.”

Art, Artist, Critiques, From Around the Net, Outstanding Bloggers, People, Poetry

Blog Critique: “Lunarpoet”

(About a 1 minute read)

The Lunarpoet Blog, by Matthias

You cannot help but wish this young man well.  Matthias sees himself as a poet who is, “..searching for the magic sparks in the interspaces, between the cracks of reality”, and it is easy to prove that he is a talented conjurer of that magic.

This is no ordinary poetry blog.  Make no mistake about that.  Matthias has dedicated himself to the lifelong pursuit of pushing his talents and skills with words as far as they can go — and he might just one day be a voyager to the stars.

Most of his poetry is blank verse of moderate length and can be read in about a minute each.  But you might want to spend more time than that, savoring his works.  They are good quality poems even when compared to the great, traditional poets of history.  Someday, he might be up there among them himself.

This is solely a matter of personal taste, but I think Matthais and Jane Basil are the two best poets that I’ve come across in my surfing of up to 20 blogs a day.

The Lunarpoet blog is dedicated to poetry and publishes no other material than that.  Though Matthias’ native language is German, all the poems are in English, and all of them are written in accessible language.

 


FULL DISCLOSURE: This review was part of an arrangement between Matthias and I to review each other’s blogs.  His review of my blog can be found here.

From Around the Net, Miscellaneous, Stolen From The Blogosphere

“What Lies Beyond Death”

While I have not experienced temporal death and cannot speak intelligently on the topic as a result, I did witness the death of my child who pass[ed] after an extended illness. While our thought process during her illness remained positive, both of us were realists and understood the gravity of a prognosis of 35% survival. We were both very open about our thoughts on the matter.

I’ll skip over the two year battle she fought (perhaps I’ll write about it some time in the future), and skip right to her final day…

 

So begins one of the most powerfully moving blog posts I’ve read in more than a year.  Perhaps surprisingly, the post is written by a man entirely new to blogging.

Salizincendium, his username, is Latin for “Fox Fire”.  Please help him get off to an encouraging start by visiting his blog.   You can find it here.

Art, From Around the Net, Poetry, Stolen From The Blogosphere

Poetry Critique: “The Happy Book People” by Kat

(About a 4 minute read)

Some days are lucky.  Very lucky.  Yesterday was just such a day for me.

Yesterday, I was surfing the blogosphere, looking for ways to get into trouble, when I landed on Kat’s blog.  Kat is new to blogging, but seems to be doing exceptionally well at it.  Indeed, I was so impressed with her posts, despite how few they were, that I stole several of them and will — unknown to her — soon be re-blogging them on Cafe Philos under my own name in order to dupe y’all into believing I’m getting better and better.

Just kidding, Kat.  I’m above that sort of thing (but give me time).

One of the posts that struck me was a poem she had composed — a poem she says is one of her first ever attempts to compose poetry.  So, naturally, I decided to body slam it with my fully armored and weaponized criticism — even before reading it, of course.

Thankfully, however, my decision didn’t last long because the poem was simply far too good.  That is, it seemed obvious to me that Kat was new to the game — but what a start!  So here’s her poem, followed by my real attempt to offer her an honest critique of it.

The Happy Book People, by Kat

Everyone likes a happy ending
A light at the end of the tunnel
A bow-topped present waiting to be opened
A swerve off the highway of doom
And a diversion from the inevitable

Everyone likes a predictable surprise
The last gift under the Christmas tree
The hidden dollar at the bottom of the purse
The nice summer rain to wash the pain away
A reason to smile at the rainbow in the sky
And to be held by the loving embrace of the wind

We are all searching for the new music
An event that evades the predictable marching of time
A glitch in the matrix of our numb brains
A quick burst of color that breaks the heavy fabric:
The fabric of years lived in obscurity and agony
Finally weighing on our heavy consciousness
Like an anchor when the buoyancy of youth is lost

When I was just a few years younger
Surprises found me at every corner
Strawberry smoothies at the diner
The dew on the grass in the chill of the morning
The star-speckled night sky
The smell of a brand new book
And the books were filled with happy people
And those people had been just like me

But they are not like me anymore
And happy endings just seem to laugh at my face
Their meaning dancing away into the horizon
Forever lost to my desolate mind

The happy book people are long gone


Dear Kat,

“We are all searching for the new music.”

To me, that one line so well captures an idea that — if you told me you had created the whole rest of the poem just to set that one line off, like a precious stone is set off by a less precious mounting — I’d think it was worth it. A blue diamond of a line!

Second, I love how you understated your feelings when instead of trying too hard to dramatize them, you chose to state them by contrast. Specifically, in contrast to the happy book people. I don’t know enough about poetry to confidently say that was brilliant, but I suspect that someone who did know, would say something like that.

I do have a criticism — one I hope will help and ultimate encourage you, rather than discourage you — for you seem to me to have some genuine talent that I would hate to discourage, even mildly discourage.

The poem deserves that more time and effort be taken in its composition than it seems to me was taken. Some elements appear dashed off without any further thought given to them. For instance, the first two stanzas: Full of dreary cliches, in my opinion.

Again, there were moments when you did just the opposite of what you did with “happy book people”: You bludgeoned us with exaggerated and false statements — or so they came across to me. For example, “years lived in obscurity and agony”. Obscurity I can see. That’s plausible to me. But “agony”? Is that really true? I doubt it, and if it is true, you’ve broken my heart, for you have suffered as most of us never really do.  So I’m betting you could do better, much better.

Nevertheless, all in all, Kat, a poem I myself would be more than proud to have composed.

All the best,

Paul


PLEASE NOTE: You can find Kat’s remarkable poem, The Happy Book People, here, along with my critique, and her gracious response to it.

And you can find her even more remarkable blog here.  I think if you will take a moment to check it out, you will be glad you did.

Bad Ideas, From Around the Net, Human Nature, Humor, Internet, Mental and Emotional Health, Obsession, Science, Scientific Method(s), Village Idiots, Wisdom

Why Pay for a Retirement Home When It’s Cheaper to be Committed to an Insane Asylum?

(About an 8 minute read)

As nearly everyone knows by now, the internet is the greatest danger to sanity yet devised by that mischievous and often self-defeating ape, Homo sapiens.

Case in point: There are now estimated to be well over 100 million bloggers in the world.  A number that by itself, and without any need of further evidence, provides absolute proof a sizable chunk of humanity has, since the invention of the internet, gone grass-eating crazy.

Yet, strange as this must sound to you, blogging actually might not be the very worse the internet has done to undermine sanity.  For the internet has also made it possible to find — at any minute of any hour, and at any hour of the day or night — someone, somewhere who has just said something that is certain to drive you insane.  Possible?  The net has made it all but inevitable.

The obvious example of that would be when someone publishes a statement they claim to be absolutely true, and which you know to be absolutely false, but which — and this seems to be the key here — the statement is so fundamentally flawed that you realize even in advance it will require you working something like a total of eleven hours in your spare time over three days, while skipping at least four meals, and posting in excess of 24,000 words, to correct.  But correct it you will.

That is, you can be sure someone — and possibly an entire army of someones — will at least try to correct it.

The fact that so many of us humans can so easily get drawn into nearly endless internet kerfuffling would suggest to any sane person — assuming there still exists a sane person — that the world will end, not with a bang, but on that day a zillion face-palming smilies are tragically posted at once, thus totally depleting the world’s vital supply of pixels, and crashing the net once and for all.   The net, after all, is the world these days.

Now, I myself thought I was above such foolish kerfuffling.  I imagined my tendency to quickly get bored with debates protected me.  I thought, “You are too wise to be drawn into posting more than three or five times.”  Of course, all that false pride ended a couple days ago.

A couple days ago, I ran across fourteen words.  A mere fourteen words!  Fourteen (14) lousy words.  But they have been my doom.

What exasperates me about the situation is I really have no quarrel at all with the fourteen words.  None.  I figure they are, if taken lightly, true enough.  Every day I run across at least 100 far more ridiculous statements than the statement in question.  And, at least a third of that time, they’re my own statements.  Nevertheless, I have to date filled several notebook pages with painfully belabored handwritten commentary on those words.  And I might fill several more.

I just might.

I’m dangerous like that.

What are the words?

[S]cience, which goes where the evidence and analysis indicate, and [which] is anti-mythical in nature…. [brackets mine].

I fully realize that I have just lost whatever respect and affection you once had for me.  In the column to the right of this post, you will find a blogroll.  In that blogroll, you will find a number of bloggers who are far more sane than me.  I urge you to click on anyone of them — now! At once! I myself am done for.  I’m finished.  Kaput.  Crazy as a one-legged jaywalker crossing the Chicago Eisenhower Expressway during rush hour.  But you might, if you act in time, still save yourself.

If on the other hand — if you are my brother-or-sister-in-crazy, if you are already beyond redemption, if “hope” is a meaningless concept to you, if sanity is something even an American Congressperson possesses in comparison to you — then I embrace you, my friend! My brother!  My sister!  Let us go laughing over the fields of the moon together!

So, what does the statement, “Science, which goes where the evidence and analysis indicate, and which is anti-mythical in nature…”, what does that mean to you?

The very first thing that struck me about that statement was — that it is passably true.  That it’s true enough.  And a sane man might have left it at that.

Have I mentioned that I’m not sane?  Not even close.  So, the next thing that occurred to me was science might in the end go where the evidence and analysis indicates, but it often enough goes kicking and screaming.  That is, the statement implies — at least to me — a far less rocky journey for new scientific ideas than is often the case.

I agree with those people who point out that scientists, on the whole, are to be counted among the world’s foremost skeptics.  As a group, they tend not to accept new ideas until those ideas are supported by a weight of evidence and analysis.  Sometimes that weight of evidence and analysis must be so great, before a theory is widely accepted, that it has become a juggernaut.  A new idea can be given a pretty hard time of it.

Moreover, I don’t accept the notion scientists are always and ever rational.  I recall Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,  argues that scientists at times tend to resist radically new ideas in their fields almost to the point of fanaticism.  Especially the old guard.  They can — and sometimes do — resist a new theory with such stubbornness that they go to their death beds unconverted.  In which cases, it has only been after the old guard has died off that the new theory passes from controversial to widely accepted.  So, I think it might be a myth that scientists always go happily down whichever roads are the most substantially paved with evidence and analysis.

Now, again, I don’t have a profound dispute with the statement, “science goes where evidence and analysis indicates.”  I think the statement is a gloss.  But I mostly agree with it.  Of course only a stark raving lunatic such as myself would argue with a statement that he agrees with.  Yessum.  I sure do like this lunar landscape.  And you still might have time to flee to that blogroll if you act at once.

It happens I have a about a half dozen other quibbles with the statement, “Science, which goes where the evidence and analysis indicates, and which is anti-mythical in nature…”.  But this is getting to be a long blog post, so I will offer only one of those quibbles to you.  Very briefly put: Scientists have often begun by accepting one or another popular myth of their day — and they have then only rejected that myth after first affirming it — sometimes affirming it for as long as several generations.  But if that’s the case, can science be properly called  “anti-mythical”?

Naturally, I think it’s passably true to characterize science as “anti-mythical”.  I mean, I’m crazy.  Thus, I am all but obligated to object to it.  After all, I agree with it.

It all is becoming clearer and clearer to me.  Clearer and clearer.

So! Five sets of questions for you.  Pick a set, any set, and run with it:

  • Have you ever gotten into an internet kerfuffle that you later regretted having gotten involved in? And if so, what was it that made you regret your involvement?
  • What’s the craziest online argument you’ve ever gotten into in your life on the net?  Were you, by any chance, arguing with yourself?  And, if so, will you marry me?
  • When, if ever, is there any worthwhile purpose to getting profoundly involved in an internet debate?  And what is that purpose?
  • Who is the craziest blogger on the net that you’ve yet to come across — but crazy in a good way?  Where do they blog?  Link, please! We wants their link!
  • Please quote the single craziest statement anyone has ever posted to the net. Ever.

Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies;
good night, good night.


Originally posted May 16, 2011 as “Science, Sanity, and the Internet”, and last revised April 26, 2017 for clarity.

Abuse, Aristotle, Consciousness, Ethics, Feminism, From Around the Net, Human Nature, Humor, Late Night Thoughts, Life, Love, Morality, Morals, Outstanding Bloggers, Poetry, Stolen From The Blogosphere, Wisdom

Late Night Thoughts: Love, Consciousness, Moralism, Red, and More

(About a 10 minute read)

The half moon is riding high tonight.  Silver light on the lawn.

The weather is warm enough now that I can leave the doors open most of the night to let the air in through the screens.   This is the stillest part of the night.  The city is for the most part asleep, so there is very little traffic on the nearby roads.  Besides, my cottage is far enough off the closest road that passing cars are usually muted.

In a couple hours, the birds will start singing.  Then a bit later, the dawn.

◊◊◊

One of the very few posts on Café Philos with more than 80,000 views is The Difference Between Loving Someone and Loving an Idea of Them.

The post’s core notion is that one sign we love an idea of someone, rather than love them, is that we are trying to change them to fit our notion of them.  Especially if we are trying to change them against their basic nature.

Of course, me being me, it took 600 words, two personal stories, and one reference to beer,  to get that idea out.

◊◊◊

Have you noticed how some folks seem to bill you for the love they give?  Maybe they can’t seem to say, “I love you”, without expecting you to feel obligated to them for it.  Or maybe it’s not so much when they say “I love you” as it’s when they do something for you that they charge you for it.  But they always send out a bill, and expect prompt payment on time.

My second wife was like that.  I didn’t hold it against her, I didn’t hate her for it, because I knew she got the behavior from her mother.  All the same, I couldn’t live with it, and it was one of many reasons I divorced her.

She liked to go to an all night restaurant and sit up as late as four in the morning drinking tea.  Her work hours allowed for that:  She started late in the morning and worked until late in the evening.   But mine often didn’t.  Still, she felt I was obligated to go with her because, as she explained more than once, “You have a monopoly on my heart”.  Which, if you knew her, you would have recognized as a subtle threat to cheat, to break that monopoly, unless she got her way.

Now and then, we’d have a falling out, during which times she’d burn all the poems I’d composed for her since our last falling out.  The first time, it surprised me, but afterwards, I just thought it was funny.

For the longest time, I was convinced I could change her, but in the end I was only kidding myself.   She had a lot of good qualities that woman, but the price of her love became far too great a price to pay.

 One Way to Pay a Bill

 I would rather sit beside evening waters,
Feeling air lift across my arm like lips,
Smelling moisture that could be breath
From one who comes near enough to care

Than go late into a restaurant
Where air is still as dust in a corner
And light twists through incandescence,
Malnourished, to strike at shadow with a rag.

Although if I told you this
You’d accuse me of disregarding now and forever
Your right to stay up until four with your tea;

Then some weeks later you’d accuse:
I lacked an enthusiasm for sunsets
Which deprives you of romance —

“Since I have a monopoly on your heart”,
You’d say.

I’ve lived with you and noticed
When your heart flicks on, “I love you”,
It sends a bill for the energy used,
Which it feels seldom is paid for gracefully
Or on time.

I’ve willed for your love in the absence of another,
But shouldn’t your heart account in its books
The warmth you’ve taken, now and then,
From burning my poems?

◊◊◊

For the most part, it seems to me the relationship between our consciousness and the rest of our mind (or brain) is like that between a monkey and an elephant.

The tiny monkey is full of pride at being atop the elephant.  It sits there stubbornly trying to direct the elephant’s path with its constant chatter, hops, and gestures.  And the monkey is always deluded into believing it is the master of the elephant.  But almost invariably,  the elephant ignores the monkey to go its own way, taking the monkey with it.

Consciousness, it so often seems to me, is almost entirely a commentator on our behaviors, and almost never the cause of them.

◊◊◊

Beauty is the Beautiful Lie

I’m never quite sure
When I look to horizons
If it’s brighter out there
At the dawn or the dusk.

And I’m never quite sure
When I look for the truth
If its the truth that I find
Or only my own dust.

And I’m never quite sure —
But when I listen to flowers —
Their lies seem the truest
Of the lies I’ve been told.

There lies seem the truest
Of the lies I’ve been told.

◊◊◊

Moralistic people are not necessarily moral people, just as you can be clownish without being an actual clown.  To be moralistic, one only needs to be swollen full of moral-sounding judgments.  “By the Faith, did you hear that Sakeenah divorced her husband! And he a good provider, too!”

I think one thing that so very often distinguishes moralistic people from profoundly moral people is that moralistic people usually think in terms of absolutes, while profoundly moral people usually think in terms of odds, or probabilities.  The former tend to see things as black and white; the latter tend to see things in shades of grey — or even better — in colors.

Which do you suppose is the more realistic?

◊◊◊

I am still looking for great and snerklesome blogs, by the way.  If you know of a blog that has some stand-out characteristic of it, something that makes it special or unique, please leave a link to it for me in the comments.  Even if it’s your own blog.  Especially if it’s your own blog.

◊◊◊

One of the very few things I find generally irritating about women is that so many of them undervalue, underestimate, and over-criticize themselves.

Of course, I realize it’s not their fault, that they are all-too-often trained to do those horrifyingly destructive things, and they are not to blame for it.  But spontaneous irritation doesn’t pay much attention to causes: It is a response to the fact of the matter, not to the cause of the matter.

Men do it too, but women do it more often.  Both are irritating as a cruise vacation on the River Styx when they do it.  Folks really should pay attention to Aristotle on this issue.  Aristotle believed that genuine humility was claiming for yourself no more and no less than is your due.

To him, claiming more than your due is arrogance, while claiming less is false modesty.

Of course, I am not talking about self-deprecating humor here.  I almost never find that irritating.  An ability to laugh at yourself is a precursor to wisdom.  I’ve never known a wise person who was incapable of laughing at themselves.

◊◊◊

Red

I like the red
the red of her red skirt
Her red skirt
Her red skirt outside
outside in the sunlight
outside in the sunlight
now.

◊◊◊

A young friend has been emailing me tonight for advice with a woman he’s romantically interested in.

Naturally, I told him a safe way for him to gauge her interest in him without his having to awkwardly ask her if she is indeed interested (because such frankness is so often embarrassing to both parties) is for him to quietly spread jelly on his chest and see if she offers to lick it off for him.   “If she does, Arjun, it’s a good sign!”

I pride myself on my “being there” for today’s youth.  So many adults these days refuse to impart their hard won nuggets of wisdom to the up and coming generation.  Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

But not me!

After explaining to me that she and he had very different political views, Arjun went on: “I’m more worried about losing the potential romance along with being rejected due to being perceived as unattractive than merely losing it due to something like difference in worldviews. Both scenarios wouldn’t be desirable for me, to be sure, but being seen as unattractive and rejected due to that would be painful for me.”

How would you yourself guide him?

◊◊◊

Adriana has written a good, solid blog post on the topic of whether the feminist movement should re-brand itself as the egalitarian movement.  It is, perhaps, a surprisingly important question.

I mostly agree with her points, but I’m thinking about challenging her to a mud-wrestling match to determine the truth or falsity of one of her points — a point I happen to disagree with.  I haven’t quite yet decided whether to write my own post about it, though.

You can find her article here.  It’s quite obvious she put a lot of thought and work into it, and it’s well worth a read.

◊◊◊

The sky is a pale blue-grey wash now that silhouettes the trees.  The birds are singing, their songs interweaving like the tree branches.

And now the first pinks blush on the horizon.