Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughts on Sheep Testicles

We took the kids to a ranch last weekend. We saw a bunch of sheep. Sheep have enormous testicles. I had been unaware of that. At first I thought it was ironic, considering how sheep are known for lacking courage while balls are associated with having it. Then I realized that "irony" doesn't begin to capture the sort of linguistic deception at work here.

Of course, idioms aside, balls are quite vulnerable, the sorts of things one would smartly do anything to protect. For example, desperate German shepherd fang avoidance. Off a cliff? Sure, just don't bite my balls.* The balls will control a sheep, or better, they will let a sheep be controlled. To be had by the balls seems a quite accurate idiom, with all it implies.

To have balls, then, is to be easily manipulated into supporting and/or doing things you don't actually want to do, like risking death to fight deeply hued people in the Middle East or working OT without pay;** to submit to leaders who'll have you running all over the fucking place because you're afraid of what they'll do if you stop running; to be always looking over your shoulder, behind, not ahead; to be enslaved, not free. To have balls is to be a...pussy? Sort of.

*I don't know how sheep would actually react to such a choice.
**I understand that sometimes the wolf is literally right on top of you and you gotta do what you gotta do...survival first, no shame in that...but that supports the point. John Steinbeck made this brilliantly clear in The Grapes of Wrath.

For That Friendly Old Woman, One Among Very Many, Bewildered by Sean's Japanese Fluency

from lips framed in blonde
the familiar sounds so strange
the language you speak
comes not from your race, my friend
it's just what you swam in then

Portrait of a Fat Spider on a Sunny Day in Late October

taught silk spans stone path
like a plucked string, the web sings,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

the Heraclitean flux capacitor

So, I'm trying to blow up the distinction between stasis and dynamism. There is no stasis, I'd say, echoing Heraclitus. This means there are no individual objects.

I learned in high school at some point that perfect circles don't exist in the real world. This is true. Numbers can't be found either. If I want to say there are two apples, I need to show that they're exactly the same. Identity is a useful tool. I'm inclined to a call it a fiction, though I'm certainly not arguing against it. The human ability to take two parts of the world and consider them the same thing, so that they may be counted, or to use any abstractions and consider their relations is a product of evolution.

I'm not trying to say abstractions are baseless, that it's all a dream. They're one way the world relates to itself: the eyes and brain relate to the apple. But see there I'm using the concepts "eyes," "brain" and "apple." What exactly can I capture about them that adds to their ridiculously complex non-conceptual relation, which I would suggest includes far more than brains and apples as we know them?

It's emotionally satisfying to understand, it's emotionally satisfying to form and achieve goals. There are ego benefits, there's relief from cognitive dissonance. It's an aid in survival, up to a point anyway (the humans being at risk of self-destruction), to use abstractions. You can say the same about sex.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Temporality, Ontology, 3

Matter is not dead. Not even rocks are dead. Everything that is, right now, is acting. Even the rock is self-replicating and diversifying, throwing itself into another now. This is amazing. What kind of effort does that take? What makes you do it, rock?

Temporality, Ontology, 2

The past is fake. The future is fake. Have you ever seen them? No, of course not. You've only seen now. That's all there is. Believing in the past and future is like believing in unicorns. Well, OK, you saw...what? No, you didn't. You "saw" now. You're now experiencing a simplification, conceptually, and an effect, viscerally.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Temporality, Ontology

It has come to my attention that there are no dimensions. I used to think of space as a three dimensional cube and time as a fourth dimension. Not because it made sense but because it was taught to me this way. Time happens on a line, past on the left, present on a dot, future on the right. Spatial. The question that got to bugging me was how the past crossed over the present to become the future. Past and future seemed simple; present presented problems.

This may not be original, but I've figured out that there is no past and there is no future. All that exists, and has ever existed, is now. The past is a concept in our minds, an unreal, simplified remnant. It is also in the body, in altered form. It does not exist, as such. The future is only a concept, the past re-imagined, visualized, conceptualized. The past in abstract, simplified and projected forward on a spatialized time line. If the past doesn't exist, the future really doesn't exist.

Now is not a passage from past to future. Past and future -- visualized, simplified -- are fictions. Only a human could come up with this stuff.  Now is self-replication and diversification.

I took a walk. I looked at a cinder block wall. I realized that it was self-replicating, partially (imperfectly?) at that very moment. Its changes were too minor to notice. Time is self-replication and diversification. Time, or the world, which are the same thing,  manifests itself in space.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In support of hierarchy?

Two proposals:

1. Hierarchy does not exist in the world. It's what Galileo would have called a secondary quality. An asteroid collides with a planet, its plans of indeterminate straightlineishness, if you'll allow me some Newtonianism, smashed like a fish into a rock, or something. I do not object to the actions of these players. @planet: do what you will to those asteroids. Je n'oppose pas.

2. Alternatively, but with the same basic results, the planet totally owns the asteroid. I project my humanness onto these events. Hierarchy is everywhere. Objects act with force on other objects. I call it hierarchy. I still don't oppose these hierarchies. I oppose a specific type of hierarchy among human agents.

So let me talk about human hierarchies. The world acts with force on my body, a persistent flow, in and out. It changes me and I it. This is unavoidable. I'll even call it good, since it makes me exist. I don't oppose this. A baby hits her head, changes her behavior to avoid future injury. The world shapes her body and its brain. Damn you world!? No. It just is.

I come across an article on the internet, the words change my brain, which then changes the world as I act on those ideas. In and out, or just flux and porosity... Some ideas appear better to me than others. Better, as in hierarchy. Again, I do not oppose hierarchy, per se. Every choice I make, every action involves hierarchy. Accepting one thing while rejecting another is an establishment of hierarchy. I will not reject this part of me. I will not reject my agency. I am not fundamentally a paradox, not on this count anyway.

Some ideas cause more harm than good. I support these ideas, insofaras I can identify them. Evolution is good. Evolution is hierarchy. May the best ideas win. Long live hierarchy. Reject those ideas of mine you disagree with, I implore you. Or improve upon them.

(Now all of this is idealistic. If you praise me, I will like you more. If you criticize me, I might just cry.)

At the same time, I oppose hierarchies imposed by agents via force. By definition, this includes all institutional hierarchies, though I also oppose the use of brute force by agents in the vast majority of cases. Because these hierarchies cause more harm than good, in sum, because this harm is felt by entities that feel pain and I empathize with their pain, and because hierarchy is fake, as Montag might say, and as I (briefly) argued in proposal #1 above.