We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, October 18. 2012
It's a big mystery. It is difficult to find any evidence for anything "before" time and space existed, before "matter" existed.
For my practical purposes, in the beginning was logos - the Word.
Which brings me to my topic of thought and communication as poetry and metaphor. I just completed one of Prof. Robert Sapolsky's Great Courses, Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Neuroscience. It's only 2 DVDs, but it is an inspiring introduction.
In one section of his presentation, he mentions James Geary's I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World. The WSJ reviewer said this about the book:
From a Platonic point of view, it's not just the meat of language, it's the meat of thought. Sapolsky says that most communication is the residue of poetry.
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sorry dr. Bliss, I don't buy Sapolsky's "residue of poetry". If I get a stick and hit you upside the head, that is a form of communication without a hint of poetry.
Most - not all. But I agree that a stick is a form of communication.
Sorry, I'm obsessed...
"If I get a stick and hit you upside the head..." This is such violent imagery. A stick, used in this context, seems to represent something unsophisticated, primal or animalistic. It drives home the idea that the act of violence being committed is not merely harmful, but savage. Further, focusing the attack on the victims head indicates physical vulnerability as well as suggesting intimacy, attacking the very identity of the individual.
But what of a violent attack? Is it communication? It can be. If a perpetrator wishes to express anger through violence, what are they saying? Perhaps, "This is how you make me feel!" Or, should the aggressor seek to take the possessions of the victim, if the act is viewed as communication, what is being conveyed? I am dominant. I will take what you have. You cannot stop me. Violence is many things, but once viewed as communication, the act becomes a metaphor for the motivations of the attacker.
ok, Jephnol, forget the stick...How about a feather drawn across a woman's cheek.
I'd like to call attention to Robert Frost's "Education by Poetry".
Sorry. Wrong link. Try this:
(note to self: dont use quote marks in 'url=' tag)
CS Lewis wrote several times about the necessity for metaphorical language in describing most complicated, abstract things. Attempts to "demystify" language just switch one metaphor for another - though this may not be immediately apparent.
Yes, in his excellent work Miracles Lewis wrote, "It is impossible to discuss things beyond the senses without using metaphor." (Close approximation, not a perfect quote).
Metaphor isn't necessary but it is essential. I once asked one of the world's premier Kabalah experts about claims that it was true. He answered that Kabalah is just metaphor to help us understand.
When I think in terms of metaphor, I see shadows on the wall of a cave...language drifts from concrete referents, as it must, towards abstraction. Now, it strikes me as silly to think of the essence of a chair, but what of justice, truth or beauty? Are these ideas objects of the mind? That is, do they exist outside of our thinking so that we are able to corporately examine them? Or are they merely shadows we seek to imbue with concreteness?
Going back to the question of chairness or the essence of a chair, we ask ourselves, what is the definition of a chair? A utilitarian definition might be: a seat, typically with four legs and a back for one person. But what function does a chair serve? It's something we sit on, or pile books on or wedge against the door, or stand on to change a light bulb. Generally though, it's something we sit on. My office chair is a Swiss Ball. Well, that's not a chair, right? But I sit on it. So it must possess an aspect of chairness. But what's a Swiss Ball? It's like a big soccer ball you can exercise on. So how does that become a chair? Well, it's like the mushroom the Hooka smoking dude is sitting on in Alice in Wonderland. It gets confusing. But really, the symbol "chair" is a metaphor for something we sit on. Here's the trick: when we have our symbolic ducks all in a row, that is, we've arbitrarily established a system of categorization, we can argue, for example, that the top of the refrigerator is not literally the house cat's catbird seat, but rather it's a metaphor for the advantageous perch the cat has adopted on top of the fridge. So then the fridge has some aspect of chairness, right?
Whew! I'm as tired as a lazy dog on a hot porch! Justice, truth and beauty? I'm not even going to touch that monster tonight. I'd just make things muddy. So goodnight, all! I'm going to couch.
"What Happened Before The Big Bang?"
That question has no answer. Time is part of this Universe. The Universe began with the Big Bang. Therefore Time began at the Big Bang too. Trying to talk about or even imagine 'a time before the Big Bang' is like trying to discuss or imagine 'a temperature below absolute zero.' It doesn't exist. It isn't logically or physically possible.
This is not a criticism, but rather an observation: Your response seems somewhat like Micheal Behe's concept of irreducible complexity. I'm sure there's a lot of structured thought behind what you've said, but allow me to expand the question "what happened before the big bang" to accommodate my understanding and your assertion: What happened before time? Or perhaps, what existed before time? Just trying to wrap my head (warp my head?) around this idea makes me sympathetic to the Aristotelian notion of a First Mover. Nothing then something puts the big bang in my squash...I see stars and I get this thousand yard stare then all I can think about is how I should be in couch.
Deuteronomy --the last book of what us'ns call the Old Testament, picks up where Genesis left off on the Logos. I've wondered all my growed-up life why the word itself, the general noun, small 'w' --is held sacred. I understand the obvious reason, that it puts the huma in human, but after that step , i step on a banana peel on the next step on the stairway on the way to heaven. In the dream, Harpo Marx as usual is the banana peel tosser, but he can't talk, so he can't tell you the whicheewhere and whowhatchawhy. All he can do for ya is dissolve your troubles in mirth, the short movie reminding you of the short life so better get busy laughing at stuff while you have time.
Moses in Deuteronomy says the word needs to be heard, the speaker needs others to ''give ear'' (as the original translates to English, it is generally agreed) or else words, and then the people who know them but do not use them for good, become (translated) a 'trifle' --which in Moses' time was a synonym for 'empty'. He must've foreseen mass comms, more or less introduced in its current Baroque phase by a what-is-a-word explanation, in the form of a Dada hit song (a hit hit hit, a hit with a stick --upside the head head head, the head what you said, until the radio came along and let us put away our sticks, thanks to Mr. Macaroni and his English lab assistant, Mr. Cheese). That song was "The Bird is the Word" ("o well the bird bird bird, the bird is the word, o well the bird bird bird, the bird is the word").
Anyhoo, the scariest bit of film and soundtrack i ever saw-heard was just a few nights ago --it erupted from the tv and when i looked, there was a woman, the mother, bent over a baby crib, and you were seeing her face as the baby would see it, and her expression of horror was --horrible, as was her waves of screaming. The doc (i guess it was, i turned it off, i was shaken) came bounding up the stairs and into the nursery room, and the mother spun, wild-eyed and hysterical, screaming "She can't SEE and she can't HEAR!" The movie was ''The Miracle Worker'' --about Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, and the teacher who finally broke thru to her --after a supreme effort over very long time --with (i would imagine the message was) ''you are not alone''.
Anyhoo, if Romney's words can break through this our self-afflicted word blindness and deafness, and restore at least our will to pursuit our olden ideals, they'll write books about him --i have a title already but somebody with better stick-to-it iveness will have to finish that other part, the 'book'. Call it "Duetoromney".
hey jephnol, this is funny
That was funny...
It has been over a month since I have updated my blog. I am seized with an urge to apologize. But to whom, and to what end? If one truly creates for one’s self, why then am I so disturbed to find that my unique visitors have dwindled away practically to nothing, with a bounce rate approaching ninety-five per cent? These twin impulses—toward reckless self-regard and the approbation of others—neatly negate one another. This is the essential paradox of our time.
...but perhaps a bit too close to home!
Jephnol, I went to your blog...you are only a few days behind. You should , IMO, spend more time with your friends and drinking wine. would that I had friends but you can always buy wine. A friend is someone who has not yet betrayed you and a woman is always and only skin deep.
It is good to be in trusted company, and in wine there is, indeed, truth. May they both be at hand when we need them.
After submitting that last comment I took off like a shot on an errand. As I was driving off I was laughing a bit thinking how Sartre would blogged about another banality. Just didn't know what to say I guess...it would be good to get out more but I've been holding back a bit. Sometimes I just need to settle down and simply be. Women? No rush. But I'll get out with those friends again soon.
Earlier today a friend confessed he felt isolated by betrayal. Women and friends had done him wrong. I didn't know what to say then, either. I guess this is the only thing that occurs to me: the friends I've held onto, that have held onto me, are all church going types. I don't know. I'm just saying they've got God in their bones. I mean, whatever...I don't have anything to sell, really. But it does make me a little mindful of the First Mover and Pascal's Wager. You know, I'm the hardest sell in the world; I've got religion half the time at best, but I've got religious friends all of the time. Makes me think sometimes....
gee Sam, you should not reveal so much; and BTW, you omitted "Gang".
in the beginning was the word,
and the word was four bytes long