Thursday, July 29, 2010

In what way are social networking sites spiritual?

(en) World Map (pt) Mapa Mundo (de) Weltkarte ...Image via WikipediaAfter spending two weeks on Facebook and 10 or so days on RSVP in the last month, I am surprised at just how unfulfilled I feel. This experience has left me drained, exhausted and tired. The obsessiveness with which I attacked this task has no doubt contributed to this feeling of emptiness, as too has the inadequacy I feel when constantly bombarded by claims of Buddhist enlightenment, Hindu pantheons, Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, half full glasses and the oneness of the world.

My experience of these sites has left me believing, that in spite of the claims made by various 'members' on their pages, that what I feel when confronted by these claims to spiritual superiority is counterfactual to the stated aims of the creators of these pages. I am left with a feeling that to me is anything but spiritual, my stomach an empty space robbed of whatever sober thought or emotion previously taking seat there, and wondering what on earth I am wasting my time reading and responding to empty platitudes and hopes rather than anything of substance.

I left these sites this morning and have been growing happier minute by minute ever since.  I can walk down the street again and say hello to a real person and smile, offer my hand in solidarity, asking nothing of them and accepting without question their humanity.

What is it to be spiritual? For me this seems to be the question at the heart of this matter. I don't know how to answer that. Surely it is tied up in someway with words used kindly and acts of genuine humanity. But that doesn't seem to go far enough. If the words and actions are given to boost my ego, that is, with an aim to making me look good in the world, of become a petty god or guru, then isn't this the antithesis  of spirituality, which surely is tied up with humility?

It is not that I am against metaphysics, not at all, it just seems to me that much of what I was exposed to in the past month has a smell of sophistry and pedantry, of people claiming that they could read my mind but never once told me exactly what I was thinking. Ancient claims presented as if the writer had only now thought of this proverb or that with a stroke of inspired genius.

Of course there where exceptions. A Spanish lady who had studied philosophy as well as being a practicing Catholic flattered me without expecting anything in return. Nevertheless, I returned the pleasure. This was a rare moment of human innocence. I had similar experience with a Philipino lady, a retired teacher in the outer suburbs, and a recovering alcoholic.

To me, these were truly human experiences as there was no pressure at all to conform, no feeling of having to submit to an idea which one could not live up to, and most importantly, a feeling that I had connected with something unspoken, ethereal and ephemeral. Perhaps that was what is called spiritual. Simply the feeling of non-exploitative human communications.

I think I'll just stick with looking people in the eye and offering my hand.
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Brown Paper Bags, Refugees and Going Gaga: Fear and Loathing Down Under.

Housing for refugeesImage via Wikipedia
I just walked home from the station through the cold of night. A typical Melbourne drizzle was trying to after years of drought. I wasn't expecting to come home to find my blog page searchable on the web, but it was.

What a nice feeling to come into the warm and dry my hair.

Not so pleasant for an asylum seeker incarcerated in one of Australia's concentration camps, I suspect. Or for a suppliant at one of our over crowded and understaffed mental health wards. There is no asylum or anyone anymore, unless of course it is somebody carrying brown paper bags of cash.

Yes, yes, we all know how right Foucault was about Panopticons, of the need to shut down those awful places where people who were mentally troubled could be given asylum from the harshness and calamities of life in a modern society. It used to be mandatory to give someone a bed if they fronted claiming to be feeling suicidal or homicidal. Not anymore. Now they can just  be turned away and go home and hang themselves in the peace of their family home. What 
Foucault failed to appreciate was how the Neo-conservatives would co-opt his well-meaning critique and use this to shut down these state funded sanitariums and transfer the money to building Pantechnicons to house anyone seeking asylum and drive them to the point of insanity.

DADAAB, KENYA - AUGUST 24:  Newly arrived Soma...The Panopticon is no longer a physical construction but an idea which monopolizes the discourse within the lifeworld. The Neo-cons, now having colonized all the major political parties, continue this imperialism of ideas, this hegemony, into the lifeworld itself through the media of language.  Habermas was always closer to the mark than the short lived Foucault, who like a pop star gained notoriety with his untimely death.

The only response that these neo-conservative friends of low taxation and the rugged individualism of late-capitalism is to go around with their brown paper bags to any private jail builder they can find, to any tin pot government who will listen to the lovely rustle that these bags are said to make, and to dog whistle to the hounds of outer-suburbia, people who have fallen through the rather large cracks of a chronically underfunded and inequitable education system, who bark back the very words uttered by their political masters.

The political system is in danger of losing its  legitimacy as this conspiracy between left and right ignores the people at every level of decision making, preferring, instead of a deliberative democracy with robust forums, focus groups who are stacked with people who nobody knows, from suburbs that few have heard of, with people whop are possibly amongst the less informed in the society.

I am in danger of going Gaga. I'm sure I'm not alone. The ridiculousness of the political system risks turning sublime in a way not witnessed since the stupidity of 1930s Europe prior to the outbreak of WWI (part 2) or the European Civil War as it is perhaps more accurately called.

Meanwhile, boats are still arriving, camps are still being built, and more and more people go untreated in the community with a myriad of untreated mental illnesses. Of course, the illicit drug trade  which loves the brown paper bag and no doubt ensure that one or two make their way into the hands of politicians, police and the judiciary, has a significant input into creating these mental instabilities, as too do alcohol and tobacco, the two biggest paper bag industries of them all.

Gusmao and Ramos-Horta, the prime minister and president of East Timor respectively. have until now resisted the Brown Paper Bag diplomacy of the new Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard. How long will this last for, I wonder, with Oil money now being waved around right under their noses? Meanwhile, the concentration camps are overflowing and more must be built, no doubt complete with military bases to defend the outer suburbs from invasion.

Oh, what a lovely life. Shop till you drop! Don't worry, the economy is going gangbusters, you can borrow on your over-inflated mortgage. And who cares about asylum anyhow.   Stuff you Jack, I'm all right. They can all go and hang themselves for all I care.

No doubt, some of them will.
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Does it really matter?

This morning I awoke tired and with a headache. I was up late watching the Tour de France and woke early to a beautiful morning. The birds were singing and the sun shining and the fury of yesterday's gale had subsided with the passing of the night. I took some paracetamol and coffee and logged onto Facebook.

Yesterday, I'd spent some time with a complete stranger and by the end of talking and eating  over a couple of hours, knew her and myself a little better. I walked home some hours later after first going to the city for some roast duck and pork soup in a typical Melbourne drizzle. Oh, what to have our old weather patterns back, I thought to myself as I walked up the hill in the dark from the station.

I reflected over the previous days blogs, and the struggle I have had in making them searchable so that others may have the opportunity to read my thoughts. I had fallen into the trap of mistaking politics for reality when I know too well that reality is here in front of me. Behind me is that land of the invisible that guides my perception of the horizon of my world visible to me. To make that horizon visible to others I must first make visible to my readers that which is apparent to them.

It is always necessary for me to ask one vital question when I approach the keyboard: Does it really matter? What have I to do with refugees, brown paper bags and madness. Nothing. I know only that which pretends to present itself as  reality, but which in reality is only a point of view. A point of view written by vested interests wishing to influence the structures within which I and other citizens must live in and around.

No, it doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is that today I wash my bedsheets, think of my sons, and prepare for myself a healthy meal. The hegemony of capital needs to be put into context. The 'Juggernaut of Modernity' is only relevant to the extent that I give it credence. Today, i am likely to encounter any asylum seekers, corruption or insanity. If I do happen to, then and only then is it necessary to deal with these issues.

On election day I have a narrow window of opportunity to have some input into the superstructures which encourage these aberrations of human behaviour. Until then, I'll just mind my own business, attempt to do the next right thing, put one foot in front of the other and follow the path of love and compassion as far as my patience and tolerance allow.

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Oh dear, is that all there is, my friends?

Sunset may 2006 panoramaImage via Wikipedia
The day has now past. The sun has set despite what astrologers have apparently proven to be false. The birds have gone to sleep, and the rabid fruit bats who nightly disturb the peace in my suburb, will be starting to emerge and gorge on any available tree. In any case, it's no use crying over spilt milk.

The milk was spilt long ago. The renaissance for all its wonderous brilliance, set in motion a succession of changes, each feeding on the previous ones, so that change has indeed been revealed to be a constant. The seeming tranquility of medieval times, once torn asunder by the introduction of the bubonic plague, gave way to internal wars between European fiefdoms which has continued on and off up to the present day. I am still reeling from the effects of this momentous period in the history, and indeed, re-birth of the West.

Animation of a Foucault pendulum (showing the ...This constant change has made obvious the paradoxical point that change is indeed a constant. What is often less obvious, is that the more things change the more they remain the same. the post (post) modern era is to be characterized by the realization that objects share solidity and fluidity at one and the same time.

Despite the cleverness of Quantum Mechanics and its practical applications, Einstein was correct to see and prove the paradoxical nature of our perception of reality, that matter behaves both as particles and as light; is both static and discreet, as well as moving and fluid.

In the post-modern era, which only ever existed as an aberration of the tenets of modernism, Derrida argued through his all too clever word play, that meaning is grasped through both difference between objects as well as differed to some other point in time.

This doctrine of la differance blinded people to the similarities between objects, most notably in gender studies, where the differences between the male and the female where at on and the same time seen to separate the unity of the species and to blur the differences. The point of post (post) modernism must therefore be, to restore this stolen unity by accepting that similarity and difference exist side by side, just as reality has a duality when perceived from a non-dualistic point of view, that is, that matter consists of particles and light, that they are equivalents, and therefore E=MC2, and light and mass being interchangeable.

There's nothing new under the sun, every thing still remains the same, to every thing, turn, turn, turn. Reality is in constant motion and is static at one and the same time. I can only ever perceive a point of view, but when I do perceive it I also see the point of view from another direction. There is both order and chaos. If there wasn't nothing would work.

Motors and computers work in a perfectly orderly fashion from one perspective, and from another are chaotically compensating for imperfections at the sub perceptive sub-micron level. Smoothness and jitter can not be separated no matter how small the tolerances. Males and females share much in common but remain intrinsically different.

It's all a matter of acceptance, not difference. Two identical man-made items are different. It is impossible to have two identical items as they can never occupy the same space, that is they are different, nevertheless they are functional identical. We accept their sameness. So just accept that reality both is and isn't as it seems.

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What is post (post) modernism?

Jean-François Lyotard
It's been a beautiful Melbourne day. Grey skies accompanied by a fine drizzle with an occasional gentle gust of wind. Just magic. So, why considering all this, am I feeling not quite up to my usual self? Perhaps, there is not an answer to the question why? Maybe, I just need to accept that I feel as grey as the weather and the intermittent showers and breezes. The answer might only in fact be superstitious, but then an irrational answer will often suffice in the absence of a better explanation.

I plan to meet up with my peers tomorrow. We are the core group of post (post) modernists. The group consists of a semi-retired Professor from Malta, an Italian PhD student and a picaro. I'm not telling which one I am, but I the term came to both the picaro and the Professor last week. An example of Jungian synchronicity. Over a coffee or two no doubt,  I expect that post (post) modernism will again be discussed. The Professor will say that 'two negatives make a positive' and the picaro will say that we are past what in fact never existed in the first place. All of us are excited to finally find our way past this aberration of Western thought, which was only ever really a watered down version of modernism proper in the first place: (post) modernism.

Even the post-modernists always accepted the fraudulent nature of their claims. 'Post-modernism is really only exists as a subset of modernism and doesn't exist separately to it' there foremost proponents  such as Lyotard seem to argue. This was all bad enough until butterflies  in Upper Mongolia started causing bushfires in the outer suburban Sydney, and dolphins actually attained an intelligence level greater than the average human: Whales became sacrosanct. The truth was, as Holmes told Watson, that fact is stranger than fiction; Crows were found to be in the same group of intelligence as these sea-going mammals, and whats more, they didn't even need to get their feathers wet to be so.

Ah, yes! But there is no truth, they would no doubt argue. Well, that's a truth statement if I've ever heard one. That sounds like a universal claim to an absolute truth to me at least. Post (post) modernism would rather, from my point of view at least, maintain that there may very well be absolute truths, but that we as humans can not know those truths directly due to the very limitations of our mode of perception and the limitations of language, our sole method of expressing any truth with any foundational accuracy. Art, of course, with its recourse to more subliminal meaning, may express these truths, but again, only in an interpretive and not a direct way.

From one cold winter's morning to another, this idea develops with a mixture of jollity and perseverance. That is the way of the post (post) modernist intellectual.  Over a coffee or two in a cafe in Heidelberg, far from Paris' left bank <> ,  these ideas develop one day at a time into questioning the very bases of modern thought. Language does not permit an escape from the modern, and no amount of grammatical tricks will allow one to free oneself from the bondage of this idea. Just writing the present in the past tense is nothing but a cheap trick advocated by some postmodernists.

merleau-pontySo, what is Post (post) modernism.  It is pure and simply an acceptance that human thought consists of rational and irrational components. That science and religion are equivalents just as are order and chaos. It rejects the notion that one is better than the other, accepting Maurice Merleau-Ponty's assertion that human consciousness is composed of perceptible and non-perceptible occurrences, The Visible and the Invisible being the seminal work in this area. It's basic tenet was written and described by Albert Einstein over a century ago, that matter and light are equivalents.

Furthermore, it is a proposed that human perception of the physical world is essentially dualistic, and while the physical world may or may not be so formed, it remains integral to our understanding of the world that we accept these opposing forces as a unity, St Augustine of Hippo was the first scholar of note to point this out nearly 2000 years ago.

The world at first appears Newtonian and well ordered. The deeper we look , however, he more this order seems to break up into disorder or chaos. If we go deeper still, chaos seems to give way to the extremely ordered world of the atom only to again resume its chaotic appearance at the sub-atomic level. The point being, we can never really know, because once past a certain point we are no longer directly perceiving phenomena but rely on intermediary devices.It becomes simply a matter of whatever works.

In any case, why should we expect the world to be one or the other? Since ancient times, order and chaos have been constant themes delimiting the way we see the world. Certainty and mystery  are intertwined and inseparable, and there is no escaping that. Absolute truths may or may not exist, but our limited positioning and the fact that we are confined to a body ensures that there can be no reliable omniscience in our knowledge. It can only be developed through discursive activity. There may  or may not be an omniscient view point but that view point is beyond the human realm.

The rain is pouring now. Who would have thought. The wind has ceased. Tomorrow is another day, and I expect it to arrive just the same as it did today.  The sun will inscribe its path across the sky, and the stars will go into hiding again. The wind and rain will do what they do. It will be cold because it's winter. What exactly will happen in detail is another point entirely. And of course, I am relying on my memory of the past to predict what tomorrow's present will be. That is a process that has worked for me and other bodies like me in the past, and I expect that it will work just as reliably in the morning. Who knows, I may very well be wrong.

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Where are the windmills really located?

The natural resource of wind powers these 5MW ...Image via Wikipedia
While watching the Tour de France last night, I couldn't help but notice the negativity of the English commentator's remarks about windmills. I find these modernistic additions to the French countryside totally in keeping with the beauty of the fields, rivers and forests that backgrounded the presence of these sustainable producers of electricity. He seemed to think that they were a blot on the landscape. I'm certain that most French people at least would disagree.

Let's take a step back from these controversial machines and look at them from the perspective of someone whose perception is yet to be befuddled by the vagaries of time, eg, a child's perspective. In the middle of a field is a substantial white pole grounded on to a concrete foundation in the middle of a field. The three blades are formed with precision and rotate with unnerving precision and silence. To be sure, these devices are large and imposing, but seem to operate with grace and ease, with minimal sensuous interference in the way of noise, unsightliness, smell and are of seemingly little or no danger to animal or man.

So what's the fuss? Why do some people insist on objecting to this progressive development of technology? Surely compared to the alternative here we have an attractive if minor contributor to the energy needs of a modern society with it's great cities and urban populations. Compared with the alternative, coal-fired, nuclear or gas generated plants, these modern variants of an ancient theme seem to be infinitely preferable.

At various times I have come across several types of power generators. My first experience was while driving in the La Trobe Valley east of Melbourne. There, electricity has been generated by brown coal fired generators for over half a century. My first impression was one of being overwhelmed by the magnificence of this huge plane, with coal being ripped from the adjoining open-cut mine. Strangely beautiful until one is confronted by the intensity of the noise generated as a by product, the scarring of the landscape, a feeling that one was in the presence of a power much greater than myself. It was almost like a homage to an idol of modernity.

I had similarly ambivalent feeling towards the nuclear reactors that I saw in the countryside and cities of both Switzerland and France. A strange mixture of beauty and ugliness that is somehow overwhelming. The ugliness is intensified only when one becomes aware of the by products of these relatively calm constructions. This repulsion is an afterimage only available to me once I consider that the waste material is highly active, burning and poisonous for many years after wards. Only once I realise that these devices produce such intractable danger and are really a front for weapons production in any case, does the beauty of these constructions diminish.

Hydro electricity is another case in point. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric plant is built in the Australian Alps, taking advantage of the kinetic energy of the snow that falls there over winter. The building of this a scheme has a legendary aspect in Australian culture as it employed so many male immigrants and gave rise to many marriages between these newcomers and the peoples of the surrounding districts. It was the harnessing of this human resource which ultimately made the harnessing of the power residing latent in the natural resource available to all.

Still, the intensity of the construction in the natural domain is quite dominant. The concentration of such a large plant detracts in a sense while adding to it. The whole area has been transformed into a built human environment. I don't mind this, but still, the magnitude of this project unbalances the subtleties of nature. Nevertheless, it still remains preferable to the previous examples in all impacts upon the senses. It is just, simply put, aesthetically a better choice.

While I was in the south of France holidaying with my then partner and our son, I was curious to see the windgenerators that had been recently built in the area. I noticed them in the distance and drove up and down country lanes in an effort to get as close as we could. From every angle they rose majestically above the bare undulating hills of the region. 

When we finally manage to stop the car close enough to appreciate these splendid machines, spinning slowly in the breeze emanating from the Mediterranean, we all stood in silence in the field with the blades peacefully rotating with nothing but the gentlest of low frequency sounds, in harmony with the impact that these machines had on the surrounding landscape and environment: minimal.

So, what exactly was this modern day Don Quixote tilting at? The windmills before him in his immediate field of vision, or some romantic notion of nature inside his head, where human activity is forbidden. An idealistic Garden of Eden that ensures the continuing destruction of the environment elsewhere, a peaceful solution or another bomb factory?

Human society is always faced with choices in how to proceed. As Hegel correctly noted, for every human act there is both intended as well as unintended consequences. Modern society requires electricity generation to ensure its survival. Life without it for the greater than six billion inhabitants of the world is well nigh near impossible without any sort of major conflict or catastrophe. Surely it is time to get the windmills out of our heads and into reality along with other renewable forms of generation capacity.

The change over from out-moded forms to the newer and sustainable forms is a chance for great economic expansion and development in the next fifty or so years, an opportunity to reclaim landscapes lost to the barbarity of early forms of electricity generation, making way for a peaceable, quiet and gainfully employed world, and an end to the over centralization of society in general. 

Previous forms may have promised something like this, but can now be seen as having been an aberration in the direction of the human environmental interface. Hopefully, we are moving into a sustainable, democratic and peaceful future with an environmental balance in which human social development and conservation of nature can live side by side. 

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Fact stranger than fiction? Thank you A. Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes in "The Five Orange Pips....Image via Wikipedia
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr Watson provided me with much enjoyment once a upon a time. I remember being struck by the conversation between Sherlock and Watson; fact is stranger than fiction. At that point I gained an insight into reality and a faith in reality that has never left me in doubt that there is indeed a world out there, a world were everything is not always as it seems.
So cop this one all you whale and dolphin lovers out there; crows are in the same group of intelligence as these sea going mammals. That right, the humble crow can consistently escape from a cage when provided with nothing other than a piece of wire from which to design and furnish a key. No instruction or prompting. Just a cage with a lock and a bit of wire. The crow can get out of captivity, desires freedom above all else. How human is a crow? Not much,. Perhaps it's better to ask, how crow-like is the human?

Facticity of this research driven 'scientific' type is indeed strange, but Conan Doyle's character himself was fictional. His fictionality in fact was so powerful that people still walk up and down Baker Street in London looking for evidence of his existence. The same, too, is true of Verona's most famous virginal heroine, Juliette, which sees hordes of people looking for the balcony where she was seduced by the amorous young Romeo. Indeed, in these cases and many others, fictional reality threatens the stability of the factual world.

The difficulty for me is that reality has been so written by the fiction of scientific fact, that sometimes I loose sight of what is right before my very eyes. I can get so lost in the situation, denatured by the unending investigations and discourse that has become part of my thought processes often unwittingly, that I could very well be taken off by a false signal like the television set while the toast is burning. My focus and senses are distracted from what could be an actual threat to my well being and a potential fire hazard, to something else that is totally unnecessary but foregrounded against a background of expectation and desire: Who is going to win the match tonight?

The beauty of fictional characters is that they are very much drawn from the historical facticity that has given rise to their creation. At some other time when there is an intuitive convergence of events that coincide in some indirect way with the original characters milieu, suddenly that fiction becomes foregrounded in a totally new background, which also drags forward from the past the historical background of the times that it was created in.

An example in point is Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Here we have a stage character who has risen to power, and overcome by hubris brings about his own downfall. It was written around the time of the fall from grace of the elected Athenian oligarch Pericles. It was no wonder then, that when President George Bush started to rule by fear and hubris, the name of Oedipus came to mind. In an act of synchronicity I thought to myself, 'Yes, Oedipus Bush', only to find that when I did a Google search on those keywords, I was confronted with pages and pages of entries returning to my search request.

So, fact can be stranger than fiction at times and fictional characters more real than those we encounter in everyday life at other times. The problem is one of language. Fiction is a fact of human society and has at times been just as prevalent in the factual world of science as at the local book club. reality can only be grasped through a process of discourse, and yet discourse itself may fog the perception of any human, scientists included. Facts exists through a particular historical consensus at a given point in society. Today the sky is grey and the air still where I am. I don't think there are many who would argue with me on that (though there are always some).

So, just accept that crows, dolphins and whales are in a way equals. They are not that removed from us. They also at the same time very different from us and each other. Scientific fact can determine reality or it can obscure it. It can do this like any other form of human enquiry. To the extent to which it clarifies or obscures it does so through the complexities of language.

Scientific fact is as prone to historical context as fiction, while fiction has the possibility of remaining real for a much longer period of time, and in a variety of historical milieux. All human knowledge requires a context in which to be read. It is possible to read things out of their context, but do so at your own peril. While there may be such a thing as concrete knowledge, anyone who thinks they have a grasp on that knowledge is a potentially dangerous person indeed.

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Looking for similarities amongst the differences.

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 28:  U.S. Health and Huma...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
It is an adult thing to live in a world of difference. Since childhood we have grown accustomed to differentiating objects in the world and naming them. Of course, this is a purely human occupation and part of our learning about the world we live in. In the end, though, we risk losing the ability to see things clearly for what they are, as this process of differentiation separates each object in our field of perception into individual elements.

A child perceives the world as a whole field of moving and stationary objects. There is little differentiation at first. The first foregrounding of an object is possibly its mother's smiling face followed by the teat presented as a source of oral satisfaction and food. Still, at this preverbal stage the objects are yet to be named and exist in the foreground against a background constructed to varying degrees in a way deemed suitable for the raising of a child.
Almost immediately the child is introduced to its mother tongue, and to  the process of the linguistic linking of objects in its sensory field with names learned both in isolation and connection with one another. This learning continues well into adulthood for many, as every more complex objects become integrated into the matrix of language which go to make up each persons vocabulary.
The integration of these words into this matrix becomes knotted with the increasing differentiation between the individual words. Also, this knotting is accentuated in when one considers the individualism prevalent in complex late-capitalist societies, where each persons vocabulary is pitted against the next persons in a battle for linguistic superiority and acceptance. This process is a dialectical one between fractured individuals living in disparate communities each jockeying for placement and meaning within a their community and each community positioning itself for access to scarce resources.

Rather than seeing this as an historically contrived evolution, post-modernists argued instead that this was in someway the natural state of affairs. That language was a process that constructed meaning through the differànce amongst words, assuming from Saussure onwards, that words are learned against each other, that an object is defined as this and not that. Words are learned as discreet units relating to discreet objects and only later against other objects. They are just as commonly related to similar objects. Post (post) modernism or the return to the future of the modernist impulse recognises this.
I passed onto my children language in the form making connections between words and pictures of objects as well as through reading picture books to them. Words and narrative were related to them and to a visual representation of what they signified. In going out amongst the real world, the children would spontaneously practice asking, Car? while pointing at a variety of automobiles, or Cat? while pointing at a small dog on a leash. No that's a doggie, I would say in reply, or yes! that's a car. Anyone who has parented a child knows the routine which is both rewarding and at times tiring.
 A similar effect can be observed through the learning of narrative. Imagine a child running out dressed as a fairy complete with a magic wand and a tiara. Here, a cluster of words go together to make a fairy. The fairy is not made against goblins or superheroes. In fact the child is likely to quiz an adult 'What do I look like, Daddy?' confirming for the child that he or she has got the cluster of meaning right. If a Superman appeared discretion would be called for if the child insisted on being a fairy. I've never seen such an occurrence but I suppose it is possible. 
Once the language matrix is formed, however, in all its complexity and in social competition with siblings and peer groups, a process of differentiation appears to take place with the way these words are stored. Similar objects become isolated from each other and differànce becomes an operational function of the way words are used. This is a margarine container and that is a plastic storage container. The tree outside is alive while the wooden desk is dead. The matrix has integrated differentiation within its structure and blinds the body to the similarities between the containers both being plastic and the tree and the desk as both being made out of wood.
When I awoke this morning I started to think of similarities between the objects in my sensory field. The sun is warm like me. It is a body that throws off heat just like my body does.  It is rises every morning and sets at night, it begins and ends just like a story, and just as my body is bound to do. When it sets it goes somewhere else just as I will when I am gone. 
The tree outside of my window has branches and I also have limbs. Through its limbs flow a fluid just like a fluid flows through my limbs. I recognise it through its similarity to my body. It is alive. So too is the sun which is full of fire as I am full of heat. It is irrelevant to me what the source of that heat is and how hot it is. To me the suns rays caress my skin as if they were emanating from another body close to mine. I don't care how far away it is. That is not for me. I am not a scientist.
Once out of bed I logged into my Facebook account. Somebody was full of this post-modernist difference asking me to see that men and women are different, begging me really. Well, I would have thought that was self-evident I wrote in reply. Gender hatred is based on this differentiation. So too is racism and any other form of hatred, this desire to see difference amidst overwhelming similarity. Hatred in based on this impulse to neglect the similarities in favour of differences. 
The knotting of words becomes a knotting of the body, a posture full of anger towards the objects of the world, with muscular energy displaced towards objects outside of itself, either towards externalities or the inner self, resulting in self-hatred and loathing. There are differences between men and women as was written, but the similarities are overwhelming, the variations slight.  We are human. Of course the differences have to recognized and tolerated because of the similarities and not in spite of them.
The birds were singing this morning. So, too, was I. I felt we were both singing for similar reasons. It was a beautiful sunny winter's morning. The birds were expressing there joy at a new day bodily in the same way that my body was expressing joy. They seemed less inhibited about their singing than I did perhaps, but nonetheless, we were both honouring the warmth of the sun. We were behaving similarly. I am able to think of this because they too share a body like mine, a body that moves in the world and seeks shelter in a storm and some food in the morning. There is of course one big difference of course. I only wish I could fly.
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Living in the Here and Now.

So, now I'm on the money. If I can crack this I can crack anything. It's a cold winter's night here, and right now it's peaceful and quiet. I've just returned from a bus ride home after having dinner with my youngest son and his mum.
All the way home I couldn't help thinking of an earlier post where I'd inadvertently written pantechnicon instead of panopticon. Well, it's all Greek to me. I must have got Anthony Giddens' 'Juggernaut of Modernity' confused with Michel Foucault's guard towers that keep watch over an imprisoned populace. A simple error really, if one considers that I'm writing these reflections off the top of my head.
But that was all before. Now I'm here at home out of the cold. As soon as I enetered my tiny bungalow, I turned on the heater and sat down and checked my Facebook accounts. Nothing of interest. And now I'm here typing away to an unknown audience who is perhaps going to read this at some time in the future. Already I'm finding it quite difficult to tell you exactly what is happening right now.
First of all, my bum is sore already. I do not have my glasses on and so am struggling to read what I write as I write it. My shoulders are soreish and I notice that I feel a little sad right this very minute. Ernst Tölle would no doubt be proud of me. I'm not sure exactly what he'd be proud of as I haven't read any of his books on the subject apart from the titles. In any case, all this information is always already there in the here and now to the extent that I am recalling this passed memory into the present moment as I type.
Theodor Adorno would also be proud of me being proud of him as I think I have used one of his terms when in fact I'm not quite sure whether I have or not. Now, the above terms  are no doubt contributing to the nodal complexity that this post will make to the web. I haven't posted it yet, but nevertheless feel that perhaps it will one day be read and just maybe spread through a variety of nodal points on its way to being read. I think that this post my be rapidly moving to prove Karl Marx's point that philosophy is indeed an impoverished form of communication.

Reflective philosophy certainly is to the extent that all I am in fact doing while reflecting is just looking back into what has already been out there. I am leaving the now to reflect on what has been so that what has been becomes present again albeit in a different form. I try to think of what might  have been or imagine what might be. It is a romantic and idealistic notion in the worst possible way, and usually ends in either resentment for past failings attributed to another person, place or thing,  or conversely fear of the future. Alternatively I may either sentimentalize the past or in dreaming idealize the future. Whatever,  reflection is an impulse away from the world, turning my back on it to wallow in my revenge on reality as I escape from it, whether it be of a positive or negative emotion deriving either my from recall or imagination.

I can't get out of this trap. Reflecting on the here and now can only occur if I first escape from it. If I truly want to live in it then all I need to do is to read the title of Tölle's book and then to live as if by example. As soon as I read what was written I'd be escaping from my here and now into that of the author's which was probably written to the future in any case as the author projected imaginatively into the hard nosed realm of making a profit from his book, of satisfying the editorial staff, and of the well earned holiday he would reward himself and his family with when he had finished his labour.

Oh well. Perhaps I've just punctured another hot air balloon. I always was the clumsy type. The problem seems to me quite complex, but the solution rather simple: Live each day as a self-contained unit, refusing to think about anything that happened the previous day or that will possibly occur tomorrow. I certainly would need to avoid either regretting or glorifying the past nor to worry about or fret about the future. As a rather philosophical old boss of mine once said to me, 'Don't worry Peter, it might never happen.'
Anyday I like, I can choose to live in the problem or live in the solution. The solution is acceptance of what I cannot change about the present moment, coupled with the courage to change what I can. The only thing I need to work out is what can and cannot be changed. I cannot change the past and the future has not yet arrived.
Perhaps the solution then is to just enjoy each moment to the best of my ability and to share this with someone else so that just perhaps there will be someone else out there who is able to share this path of acceptance and joyful participation in the present.
Who knows, writing this was fun so perhaps reading it can be as well.

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