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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Friday, February 25. 2011
"Man sieht nur was man weiss."
Goethe ("One sees only what one knows.")
I suppose it's fairly obvious that the more you know, the more you are able to see. Same thing appplies to listening to things, or educating any of the senses - even taste.
I've taken walks with people who didn't know the trees or the birds or the wildflowers, so all they could see was "green" or "bird" or "plants" or "rock" instead of "Oak" or "Scarlet Tanager" or "Milkweed" or "glacial erratic." I was seeing lots of things and lots of stories, and they were seeing little, as if they had poor vision.
My personal sensory weakness is in hearing music. I can happily listen, but I cannot really hear it all. To really hear what they are doing with music, I need to be lying down with my eyes closed. And awake.
I think a relationship with God is similar. We may be wired to connect, but our senses have to be trained, educated, to complete the connection. Otherwise, we can miss it. It's about illumination, how to light the lamp.
Another example that jumps to my mind is architecture: knowing what you are seeing helps you see the buildings around you. You can see the story, the meaning of the thing. I have had many experiences of illumination, of suddenly taking in things which I had never noticed or paid attention to because something or somebody informed me. To my mind, these are very fine moments in life - experiencing something with new eyes.
Maybe curiosity is the rare or fortunate personality trait which draws the mind and attention into things without having to be led to them - a component of intelligence. Being not very bright and afflicted with the dreaded curse of ADD (caused by too much schooling in youth), it tends to help me to be shown things: name it for me and tell me about it, and chances are that I will research it, and never forget it. One side benefit of working on Maggie's Farm (besides the big bucks) is that it prompts us to be actively curious if only to keep the "content" flowing and our brains activated.
I wonder what similar illuminations our readers have had, where learning or training helped cause you to be surprised by experiencing the world more deeply or richly.
(Photo is a Mayflower. You would barely notice one on a woodland floor unless you were looking.)
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Wish I had something more pertinent than just thanks for what you do, but thanks anyway. Your post today Mr Bdog is just one more reason I drop by every day.
So, are these comments that you are going to read, or should we write them just for the other commenters, as you have suggested before?
When I was around 20, a friend told me "That girl of yours is so damn sexy, the way she smiles." Helped me see that, but I am not too smart. Married her. Still married after 27 years.
I saw that all of the time in a first grade classroom ... the children who started with a bit of illumination (been to a zoo, owned a pet, visited a farm, had parents/grandparents who actually had two-way conversations with them, etc ...) learned to read well so much faster. They had the knowledge to match the printed word with an experience.
I have studied voice and piano for years, sung in choirs and choral groups. This year, I am taking "Advanced Music Theory for Adults" at my area music school, and just halfway through the year it has really improved and expanded my comprehension of musical scores, so that I can better see, hear and understand what the composer was building. Having to write our own four-part compositions, using the voice leading and chord progression rules of the Common Practice Period (1600 - 1900), has made such a difference. And we are only halfway through the year.
It's funny you mention that "I've taken walks with people" line. I had just written something similar a few hours before.
In a computer article.
"I've looked at computer towers with people who didn't know the components or the buses or the ports, so all they could see was "thingy" or "gadget" or "doo-dad" or "whatchamacallit" instead of "resistor" or "central processing unit" or "serial port" or "network bus." I was seeing lots of things and lots of stories, and they were seeing little, as if they had poor vision."
Like I said, what an amazing coincidence!
I would submit to you that anyone who has had a disability or serious illness, or someone who has lived with said person, views the world a little differently than most.
"Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise." - Thomas Gray
(And yes, though I failed to include a key bit I shall not let a small sin of omission diminish the point.)
Some flora and fauna I can name, others (most) not. That ignorance, partial or overwhelming as it may be, never seems to disturb my joy during walks - especially as the seasons change. The sights, sounds, and odors are enjoyable to me regardless of whether I can identify them or not.
Man alone sees his own light, nothing more.
The more yall think yall know; the greater the darkness.
Back in 1973 or so, I was happily and busily establishing our local SDS group at my high school, sharing with everyone who would listen to me the story behind why we were killing thousands of peaceful little farmers in SE Asia, mocking the oh-so-young-looking Young Republican guys in their nice K-Mart suits and freshly-scoured pink faces, and boldly rejecting the sellout philosophy of my parents' generation that allowed them to sit back in happy ignorance of the world and allow their government to murder and steal globally in their name.
We were Egos-R-Us to the bone. We knew that we were concerned with people and their lives and their right to happiness, while The Others were able to simply pretend that other people didn't really count, which allowed them to take actions and think thoughts that we knew that they must know were evil. I often wondered who they served, and how otherwise smart people could just completely ignore other people's needs and miseries. I mean, we liberals fought to feed poor people, while the Repubs fought to improve corporate profits - how could any thinking person end up on the wrong side of that particular divide?
I was also building a race car in our back shed at the time (it was a five-year project by then, when I was 17) and I needed some welding done, and had no welder. There was this long-hair older guy I had met at the local dirt track who welded, and I asked him if he could do a quick weld for me, and so he stopped by one day.
We ended up hanging out in that shed and all around for about a year, as we were sort of similar guys in some respects. Turned out he had come back from Viet Nam some months before I met him, and before that, he was an econ major at some big school out in Chicago.
I gradually figured out that this guy was one of THOSE people - a conservative! - who did a good job of hiding it. I made it my mission to show him how and why his thinking was all frigged up. Didn't work that way, though.
Gradually, as he shared his experiences and his econ background, it became apparent that my own knowledge of important facts and philosophies and concepts was woefully, embarrassingly superficial. For a guy who was certain of the rightness of his thoughts, who was sure that his concern for other peoples' lives was a force for moral goodness - well, it was troubling at first, and then it was crushing.
So, my concern that we stop murdering poor asian farmers turns out to have been a great gift to murderous dictators who wanted to slaughter and enslave those same farmers in huge numbers, for venal reasons, while our "murderous government" had actually been concerned that said murderous dictators held to a vision of gradual global takeover that needed to be quelled. I was on the wrong side there.
And, my concern that we take just a bit more out of obscenely-huge corporate profits and feed the poor would have cost economic growth, and many jobs, and much aid that was already going to those poor but which would dry up once jobs went away and taxes couldn't be collected. I was on the wrong side there, too.
And those evil corporate types - the managers and owners of businesses - turned out to be mostly a disciplined group of accountants and hard workers who, by the rules in place, operated businesses so that they benefited the shareholders and the workers and their communities, and who couldn't afford to let it all hang out and get high with the rest of us and stop obsessing about profits, because business managers who did that kind of thing - who weren't sort of anally compulsive about order and logic and good bookkeeping - couldn't keep a business going at all, and those businesses were what allowed the rest of us to eat. So, again, wrong team.
The biggest lesson? That all of those evil corporate-thug types, all of those mindless Republicans, those conformist suburban parents - they all were as concerned with hunger and pain and death as was I.
They were just much better at doing something about it.
So, after that, I took the time to learn about what I had once only disparaged, and it turns out - here's the life lesson - that I hadn't been picking very well, and that to pick well, one had to do the studying first.
BD, at the risk of being a boor, humans do not need their senses trained and educated to relate to God. That is non-biblical. God does the relating, not us. And he can relate to anything/anything.
Maybe some don't, but I did. We say that He knocks on the door, but we have to open it.
In one of my jobs, I work with dye and color and I teach color theory. We have a conversation about specific colors right at the beginning of the class and then again a few hours later. All of the sudden their eyes are 'open' to what's been there the whole time. They have experience in looking at colors in a different way now and a new ability to talk about what they see.
Politically, it's hard for the academics I work with at another job to understand a conservative small business owner like me, since they are paid with taxpayer money, they don't have to balance their budgets - much less cut them, they don't have to face the penalties of adding employees, they don't risk everything every time they make a decision to grow the business or not. All of those experiences have opened my eyes to economic and political realities they just don't see.
One thing strikes me though - very seldom [if ever] are one's eyes opened as a result of being shouted at. If we want to share what we see, we'd best go along calmly and matter of factly stating what we see.
It's about illumination, how to light the lamp.
Yes - exactly. Some never get it. More likely, some never get it because they never open themselves up to the possibilities, experiences and world we all share.
I know for me, the lamp was ignited when I was in the depths of despair - Monday, April 12th, 1976 at 12:15 in the afternoon. It was the end times for me - I was either going to get straight or die a broken old drugged out drunk. I put the bottle down, threw the drugs down the toilet and called my (then girlfriend) wife to please take me to detox. God bless her, she dropped everything, called one of my former friends to help and she picked me up and carted me off.
I came out clean and ready to relearn what life is about. There were times when the need and wants came back, but the bright lamp showed me the way clear - and I took the path that it illuminated.
You are exactly right BD - it's all about the lamp. I saw the world in a new way, I became a child again curious about everything and anything. I regained my interest in music and mathematics and the world outdoors. I started it all over and I'm here to tell you, it was totally worth it. :>)
....weakness is in hearing music. I can happily listen, but I cannot really hear it all.
Music is not meant to be heard all at the same time. Whether it is a symphony or simple tune played on a one string tub bass, it is the subtle nuance, the variations of tones and feelings, the emotion of the piece that is the experience - the WHOLE of the piece, not the individual instruments, movements or passages that makes the experience worth while. I envy you that you can just listen to the piece as a whole - I'm the type that will tell you the second chair violin is off tune or the tympani is slightly out of tune which kind of ruins things for me.
Curse of perfect pitch I guess. :>)