Just a thought on thoughts … this that or the other

There are so many thoughts to be had, so many riddles to be mulled, so many reasons to be fathomed. This must be done, however, encumbered by the drive to make the module that is you cooperate symbiotically with some machine that is the world–an invented world, ironically, devoid of thought, devoid of riddle, and devoid of reason.

Last night, I posted the paragraph quoted above as a Facebook status update.  Many of you (assuming there are enough of you readers out there to justify calling a subset of you “many”) are aware of my existential pontifications, so it was nothing new, but, as I read back over it, I feel the need to comment a bit more verbosely — perhaps elaborate.  Simply, we have social imperatives (which are mostly a human construct, the rest biological/evolutionary) that do little more than impede the meanderings of the very powerful tool (our brain) that allowed us to construct the imperatives in the first place.

I want to go ahead and note that there are so many concepts that I will derive conclusions from that I just don’t have the energy to describe in detail.  I am going to hope that they reveal themselves indirectly by invoking them.

We evolved an overpowered brain that allows us to think deeply about the universe, but we still have obligatory evolutionary trappings that assist our species in persisting.

I think constantly about this that or the other.  I’m constantly infuriated by this that or the other, frustrated by this that or the other, mesmerized by this that or the other, and ultimately part of this that or the other, but most days it just falls to the wayside, because I, for some reason, have things to do.  However, occasionally, one of those thats or others seem to spark and catalyze a wildfire of raging brain activity — a cacophony of highly excited dancing electrical eruptions — a sort of aggregation of disheartened reality that somehow opens my pores of perception — rendering me better able, and more compelled, to evaluate the universe and where I fit into its poetry, usually, necessarily, recursively constructing a seemingly unanswerable array of questions:  Why can’t I fit into this society, why do I want to, and what the heck does it all mean?

Ultimately, we all want to know that the people who have experienced us are happy to have done so.  For whatever evolutionary, social, psychological reason, we simply want to play an important role in the transition from the present to the future.  Another related quote of mine that is relevant:

Life: The fruitless attempt to turn the present into the future as the present consistently, invariably becomes the past.

I would say that, when you boil it all down, there is no better choice than to ponder the meaning of it all.  Simplest reason?  Because you can!

When you consider the known (or at least apparent) vastness of this universe both spatially and temporally, you can’t help but marvel in and be humbled by your own insignificance.  Yet, insignificant as you may or may not be, you have this consciousness that makes you (apparently) uniquely aware of it all, and, while you undergo your social, biological, and evolutionary imperative to eat, breathe, breed, and sleep, your over-powered brain allows you to question and, occasionally, understand the deeper complexities of chemistry, biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and the venue that invites them all to demonstrate their masteries: physics.

It is indeed difficult to imagine a world that you cannot understand, yet here we are in one — a cosmic arena so vast whose subtleties are lost on the strange phenomenon that resulted in us — to quote Carl Sagan: “Star stuff contemplating the stars.”

I’m not going to go off on a thorough justification of the Big Bang and evolution.  I don’t care who believes what.  Science is nothing more than observation, deduction, evaluation of cause and effect.  We witness what is there, and we make it make sense.  Often, science gives us clear data that subverts past biases and superstitions (easy example: the Sun orbits the Earth), but science is very flexible, as it can simply change as its pretenses are clarified or nullified, disproved or defined.  In other words, science lets us perceive all that is there, but it allows for the evolution of our definition of “perception.”  Science is a collection of observations whose conclusions are obvious.  If I hit a rock with a hammer correctly, it will break.  This is observable, demonstrable, and questionable only if you question the legitimacy of my ability to trust what I observe.

I just want to know anything (actually, everything) about the universe, but I keep having to dance in this social ritual to which I’m really, apparently, quite allergic.  I’m spending my life fighting the social prison into which I was born, even though my over-powered brain tells me that the prison is irrelevant given what I can imagine.  It’s as if we accidentally evolved this powerful brain, so, by necessity, we developed this intricate web of social existence to thwart it.

I, personally, get frustrated with having to live, having to pay for a house, having to find food, having to behave a certain way in order for my cohorts in existence (namely, other humans, but occasionally DEER WHO EAT MY TREES) to behave in a way that permits my extracurricular pursuits (notably, the understanding of all that is) to move along freely and to thrive.  Maybe I want to spend all day writing, or composing, or simply pursuing something I find interesting.  Selfish reasoning, perhaps, but it is strictly being beholden to social norms that keeps me from that.

Of course, obviously, humans did not invent the need to survive.  For a species that is going to persist, it is simply advantageous to survive as opposed to dying.  So, survival is an essential precursor to both our social pomp and our philosophical inquisition.  All organisms need to survive to actively do anything at all.  One has to consider that, it’s just that humans have invented this very strange way of surviving.  (Given that, however, it would not be difficult to question whether or not anything really actually DOES anything other than react, but I digress.)  I am, of course, referring to my own social prison, that of Western Civilization here in the United States.  All social systems all have their entrapments, my reference point is simply my own social system.

The world of “void” in my quote is, indeed, this sociological dance we all seem to find important: having a job, making money, enjoying “success.” It is a completely invented world.  It’s a play that only exists because actors are performing it.  The universe, on the other hand, exists in spite of human perception and beyond human existence, and it is for precisely this reason that the evolutionary process that yielded our over-powered brains is so interesting.

It is easy to imagine that all we do is simply systemic, and that our ability to observe is simply a phenomenon.  In other words, it is not hard to fathom that we think about physics simply because quarks, leptons, and bosons exist and have inherent properties which cause them to collect into entities such as protons, photons, and motional phenomena, which then collect into matter and energy, and ultimately make living organisms that simply do what they do for the same reason that the moon orbits the earth.  (Obvious! This is what hydrogen atoms do given 14 billion years of evolution! a la Brian Cox)

Most truths of reality are this way.  Electrons orbit around protons, because that is what electrons do.  Atoms bond into molecules, because that is what atoms do.  Molecules collect into cells, because that’s what molecules do.  Cells collect into organisms, because that is what cells do.  Organisms eat and breed, because that is what organisms do.  Planets orbit around stars, because that is what planets do.  Obviously, there are so many more rules than these, and many variations on these, but the apparent underlying fact is simple: everything is a system, everything happens as a result of something else.

We, as humans, however, have, because of these systems, developed this apparently unique ability to observe it all, and, even though we can see past it, we are still beholden to our sociological and biological imperatives. Our reality — as in the movement that drives our daily actions (waking up to an alarm, drinking coffee, driving to work, doing something at work, eating lunch, going home, shake, repeat) — is only meaningful to and mostly fabricated by us.  It is, effectively, nothing more than a complex mating ritual, as its end result is still only successful if the human species propagates.

We have two existences: one driven biologically and one driven psychologically, and although the biological one gave/gives rise to the psychological one, it is the psychological observation of the universe that makes us (again, apparently) unique.  It is this one that interests me and it is this one that must constantly jump sociological hurdles.  To quickly simplify, and to summarize, to worry about paying the electric bill or even worrying about whether people like you when we have at least 13.7 billion years of history to uncover is our biology constraining our psychology.

Just a thought …

To be who you are, you must first be someone else

I felt the urge to examine the following quote from John Stuart Mill and attempt to rationalize the gist of the concept.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

There is a very simple point here:  War is terrible, but refuting war on principle, even when doing so jeopardizes one’s personal freedoms, is far more terrible.

It is very easy to agree with this, because a general philosophy should be that no truth is so absolute that it can contradict another absolute truth.

Now, to examine, I will state that there is a very distinct law in my own personal philosophy: Any state of being is a prison.  Poetically justified: Anything you are is the consummate shadow of everything else that you are not.

In other words, everyone inhabits some sort of prison.  Some have just hung curtains and plants and are happy there, while others are more content fighting to find a better prison.

Thus, the inherent contradiction in this quote becomes evident.  For the idea to hold true, if you want to be anti-war, you must first succumb to a presumed logical inevitability (extraneous to your belief) that you must accept war as a viable method of protecting your belief.

In other words, you are free to be anti war, but to keep it that way, you must think like everyone else and fight a war on your own behalf.  To be who you are, you must first be someone else.

At best this is a conundrum, and by no means is this a logical disproof of war.  It is a simple demonstration that the path laid out by many as a journey to purity will inevitably require a very direct sacrifice of purity to conquer.

There are many branches to this concept, and I have personally examined a large portion of them in depth, but this general idea is a good entry to the philosophy of “breaking one’s chains.”

A la recherche d’une bouquet de gens …

For anyone who might not get the title, it translates to “In search of a bouquet of people,” and it arose from a simple observation I made this morning.

(No, I’m not referring to the lingering sensual remnants we experience after a sip of wine …  :-D)

First, I want to lead into the subject by saying how a bouquet of flowers is often viewed as much more beautiful than the flower itself.  Obviously, if the single flower were completely lacking in beauty, the resulting bouquet would need to seek alternate avenues of beauty to achieve it.

Secondly, I’m specifically referring to bouquets of the same flower.  Examples: a dozen roses, 6 carnations of the same color, etc.

So how does this relate to people?  I noticed two people at the gas station this morning, a woman and a man, each wearing tan slacks and a light blue button down shirt.  Given that I am really not one to notice attire (at all), this alone was a good example of contextual violence, since it grabbed my attention.  In fact, I thought the two people were correlated in some way, even though they were driving completely different cars– make, model, color, size–and they were on opposite sides of the pumps.

Anyway, it dawned on me that we often feel somewhat cheated when we see two (or more) people wearing identical outfits for no apparent reason.  It’s like we expect some grand story to be the cause, yet a dozen roses is simply amplified beauty.

No, all the bouquets of people that we find appealing are in things like church choirs, or sports teams, company employees, etc. where the underlying story is rather predictable.  Six carnations would seem pretty unexpected, even at a funeral or wedding where massive amounts of bouquets are hardly even stand out contextually.

I’m not really trying to prove a deep philosophical point, but I’m pondering where the apparent lack of uniqueness in people caused by random (or at least unrelated) circumstances, linking people in no way but the visual, can bring us the deep sense joy of that bouquet of roses.

It’s a fair argument to say that any group of people is quite a lovely bouquet, as the diversity and contributions they put forth can be astounding, but I suppose that’s not what I’m looking for.

A la recherche d’une bouquet de gens …