Everything posted by dragon
dragon added a topic in ExtendQuestions, questions!When I borrow a book from my local library, the computerized system allows the librarian to tell whether or not you have borrowed a book before. If you have, the librarian reminds you and asks if you still want to take the book out. This is just one example of the growing trend of being prompted by questions whenever one does something.
The same thing happens when I’m using a computer. “Do you want Windows to remember your password?”, “Do you want Autocomplete on or off?”, “Do you want Windows to ask you this again?”…”Do you want Windows to wipe your a**** for you?”
On the radio there is a barrage of adverts reminding people to submit their tax returns on time, to get their winter ‘flu jab, to do this, to remember that…………. And so on and so forth ad infinitum (and ad nauseam!).
The truth is that this would drive any healthy person to insanity. Why is it a growing trend then? It is necessary because people’s minds have become so degraded that they need this sort of spoon feeding in order to function.
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dragon added a topic in LearnTested for Children by ChildrenI have noticed in my local library that some children’s books, advertised as Dyslexia Friendly, also advertise themselves as having been tested by children.
This attitude to children is very common these days i.e. children are given responsibilities and required to make judgments that ought, in a healthy society, to be the sole responsibility of adults. Publishers are at it, schools are at it….the list is endless. This is extremely bad news.
In a healthy society, children learn by being apprenticed to adults. (This is how young animals learn, after all.) To burden children with the responsibilities of adults is to cause them severe psychological damage. This is child abuse. And it is not just a few “dirty old men” that are at it - every adult in our society is at it.
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dragon added a topic in InfluenceThe World's Your Oyster?Although I have implied it in previous posts, I’ve not actually specifically stated that we live in an Upside Down World. What I mean by this is that, for example, our history is the history of the decline of humanity, not of its progress, that what we consider genius is sickness, and the most able people are not in academic institutions, but living life in normal society and likely to have been classed as non-academic etc., etc.. Rather than going for one long post on the subject, I intend to back it up with many instances of this upside down-ness as I run across them in daily life.
This is the first of them:
The World’s Your Oyster?
The following scene from the film The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) came to mind the other day. In it, Eowyn, King Theoden’s niece, when preparing to go to Helm’s Deep, tells Aragorn that she fears neither pain nor death. Aragorn asks her what she does fear, and she replies: “A cage. To stay behind bars until old age and use accept them.”
In modern society people do not share Eowyn’s fear. Quite the reverse. People are so used to living in cages that they no longer recognize that they are imprisoned – nor that their cage gets tinier by the year. Take, for example, travel.
When I traveled abroad in 2002, I was somewhat relieved to escape – but only just – the new “anti-terrorist” airport security measures. Even then, air travel had become much more restricted than a decade previously, while today, to say that foreign travel has become a nightmare is an understatement.
Travel used to be SO easy. For example, in the early 1980s I was on holiday in Canada. I lost both my passport and my airline ticket. No problem. A new airline ticket was issued, no questions asked, and I got through UK passport control without my passport. Now when I travel abroad, I am extremely nervous about losing tickets/passport - I know I would not get off anything like so lightly again. In fact, in those halcyon days, if one did not have a full passport, one could obtain a 6-month British Visitor’s Passport over the counter at any post office. The nightmare of requiring and obtaining biometric passports was still to come. Yet even in the early 1900s, travel was even easier than 30 or 40 years ago. Poor folks were regularly traveling between Britain and America by boat, for example.
(Of course, one might argue that travel, being more difficult, does not imply that one is losing one’s freedom. Not true. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. That some governments prefer to put obstacles in the way of travel rather than refusing to issue passports to their citizens produces the same effect i.e. a loss of freedom.)
It is a recognized phenomenon that severe psychological problems arise as a result of living in captivity i.e. in a cage or prison. So why are people in this society just accepting their loss of freedom? Actually, one has to look at it from the opposite perspective. It is BECAUSE people’s minds have become so dysfunctional that they accept, in fact, need, these bars. As I have suggested in other posts, people have become addicted to power, resulting in a society in which autism is endemic. I have also suggested in earlier posts that even though it may not seem so, we live in the best of all possible worlds. Thus, while loss of freedom damages a healthy mind, the simple truth is that a person who is autistic cannot cope with freedom and needs a restricted environment in order to be able to function. Thus loss of freedom has, as it were, become “a necessary evil”.
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dragon added a topic in History and Philosophy of ScienceThe Problem of RealityThe Problem of Reality
As I described in my previous post: The Fabulous World of Pantodragon, my understanding is that life is, to all intents and purposes, a video game. But carry the usual Play Station version forward a little, and think of something more like a flight simulator, or, better, the kind of simulators some trainee-surgeons get to use when learning to do operations. In the latter they wear helmets and gloves so that their senses of sight and hearing, and touch in their hands, are cut off from the real world, and they can only hear, see and touch things in the virtual operating theatre. If the virtual-reality generator was good enough, they should be unable to distinguish between ‘reality’ and ‘virtual reality’.
There are a number of sci-fi films that have explored, and illustrated, this idea. One that comes to mind is ‘EXISTENCE’, in which they have biological video game modules which the players plug into sockets that have been surgically inserted into their spines. When they are plugged into a game the game-data over-rides and blocks anything else coming down their nervous system from their own sense organs and so they experience the game in just the same way as they experience the real world. In other words, they have no way of being able to tell if what they are experiencing is the game world or the real world. The film plays on this confusion.
At the simplest, most obvious level, most people have had dreams such that they have had trouble deciding whether the event of the dream really happened or not, and maybe sometimes they never can decide. I dreamt once that I had gone to the toilet, and I only know that it was a dream because when I woke up I still needed to go to the toilet. How is that possible? Because we literally DO live in virtual-reality worlds.
The fact is that we do not experience the ‘real’ world directly. Take seeing, for example. An image of what one is looking at forms on the back of the eye, and that is then turned into an electrical signal that is sent to the brain. The brain then RECONSTRUCTS the experience of seeing. All the other senses are the same. Everything we experience is a virtual reality constructed by the brain out of the data coming from our senses. So, there really is NO EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF A REAL, CORPOREAL WORLD, no evidence that life is anything more than a dream, and, in fact, what we EXPERIENCE very definitely IS a dream, or virtual reality. One might even go so far as to say that it goes against common sense to suppose that there IS a real, material world, because we have no experience of it – it is just that we have such a long acquaintance with the idea, that we are fed on it from the cradle, that everybody else believes it etc etc. That is what makes it seem so plausible.
So all you have to do to arrive at the total virtual reality version of existence that I have described, is to replace the ‘real world’ with another mind as the source of the information that the mind uses to construct its experience of the world. One might even say it is the ‘simplest’, most obvious assumption, as it leaves us thinking in terms of minds, and thoughts, with which we are familiar, and one does not have to add the extra stuff about material substance – which creates all sorts of problems when one then works backwards and tries to conceptualise what one then means by ‘mind’, and ‘consciousness’ etc.
I mean, we have learned to take the ‘real’ world so ‘for real’ that we, for the most part, have lost sight of the fact that what IS actually ‘real’ for us is our thoughts and sensations and feeling and the like. When I touch something I have the ‘sensation’ of solidity, that is all. If I chose to believe in a real, solid world, then I am postulating that that ‘sensation’ is caused by an object in some real, solid world; I have to actually POSTULATE the existence of a ‘real’ world.
Then I give myself a problem: I know I exist, I have a mind and thoughts, but I now have to ask what they are made of, what are thoughts and how can something as disembodied as thoughts interact with the ‘real’ world. I mean, thoughts are not magnetic, they do not have mass and so on, so how can they interact with physical ‘matter’, for it is by virtue of these properties that objects in the real world interact with one another.
There have been many attempts to solve this conundrum. These range from the proposal that there are two, parallel universes, that of physical reality, and that of mind and thought, and that they, somewhat mysteriously, run synchronously with one another so that they do not have to interact, to the extreme position of denying the existence of mind and thought altogether. To do that one postulates that things like consciousness are merely attributes of the complexity of ‘life chemistry’; ie as molecules and molecular systems get more and more complex, they acquire more and more ‘properties’, more and more abilities, and consciousness is just a property of molecular systems of sufficient complexity.
Although one is tempted to associate this sort of stuff with Rene Descartes, the idea that ‘life is a dream’ goes way back. There are a number, (I do not know how common it was) of so-called primitive tribes or societies that believed that life was a dream. There is even one present day society – I can’t remember which or where – that believes so strongly in dreams that if a person dreams that another man steals some of his cabbages then he can bring a suit against him and the offender will be held liable to pay compensation. This is not daft when one thinks about the interpretability of dreams. If you dream that someone steals something from you then that really did happen; it is just not literally cabbages – I mean, people steal from each other all the time: ideas, or someone might ‘steal your thunder’, or ‘steal the show’ etc. For example, that last might be represented in dreams thus: you might own a ‘show’ such as a fairground, or circus or something, and someone comes along and steals it from you. The person who steals it from you might be someone known to you, or might not, but one should not be literal in one’s interpretation of who the guilty party is.
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dragon added a topic in InfluenceApocalypse Now!As the title of this post suggests, I am not predicting that ‘the end is nigh unless ye repent’; I am saying that it is already too late. Death, famine, pestilence and war are already abroad (the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse) and we are IN an apocalypse. It is happening.
In another post I have talked about POWER, and how a universal addiction to that drug has been the ‘downfall’ of humanity. In the Western World, for example, it is seen as normal that babies should cry. This is not so. Babies should be learning to communicate, and should only use crying to communicate REAL distress. But babies ‘normally’ learn that they can use crying to get attention and manipulate their parents. This is babies tasting power.
If you are observant you will see it happening all the time. For example: walking past the school playground one day a ball few over the fence just in front of me, and a little girl came up and stood and looked out at me, obviously expecting me to return her ball to her. I would have done so had the episode been an accident, but as I had approached along the path I had noticed the little girl ‘noticing’ me, and had noticed her quickly pick up her ball and deliberately throw it over the fence. I did not return it and when I looked back a few moments later the girl was being hugged and consoled by a bevy of little girls over whom she obviously held sway. This is about control and manipulation. This is about power.
Everybody adores little James. He is a charming, chatty little boy. I frequently see him with his mother on the bus. He will always be talking to someone, turning in his seat to talk to the people behind, or stopping on the way off the bus and talking to the driver so that the rest of the passengers have to wait. Everyone smiles and thinks him cute. One day I happen to be behind little James on the bus. “What is that?” he asks, pointing to my umbrella. Little James knows perfectly well what it is. There follows a series of similarly inane and pointless questions, to none of which I respond. He gives it a rest and then tries again, with the same ‘disappointing’ result. He turns back to face the front again, and this time I just catch a glimpse of the expression that crosses his face: it is demonic! Really, his face contorts into such an expression of rage that it literally looks like something out of ‘The Exorcist’! So much for the cute, charming little James!
Not that I actually needed that glimpse to see what little James was about. His conversation was so very clearly not about communicating, but about getting attention. In fact, the old adage that ‘children should be seen and not heard’ is, in fact, true. Children should be interested and curious and wanting to learn about the world, and they do not do that be being the centre of attention; they do it by sitting quietly and observing. Yes, of course they play as well, but at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place. The whole world is exotic and new to a child and it will enjoy just looking and listening and learning – if it is healthy.
And if it is enjoying the taste of power it will not be just looking and listening and learning, and as a consequence, it looses the ability to observe, listen and learn – and hence science comes along to make up the deficiency.
And that, basically, is how to understand our history: we live in the ‘best of all possible worlds’, so that, with humanity on the decline, as it looses more and more of its faculties, the loss is made up by the ‘invention’ of institutions and the like.
So when, due to their addiction to power, people loose the ability and desire to ‘like’ or value things, then money is invented and then everything has a ‘price’, and that is something that power addicts can use.
When people became incapable of being fully independent, ie fully able to understand the world and people without any outside help, then religions came along to give them rules to live by and the support of others who believed the same things as themselves.
But whereas the religions used metaphor and myth to explain and account for the world, when people lost the ability to handle metaphor, and could only deal with symbols, and became very ‘literal’ in their interpretation of the world around them, then science came along.
Science looks after the autistic mind. It offers the support of authority, like a parent, of shared perceptions, offers the security of predictability, and of rules and order. And, of course, it sees the world in very literal terms. It also puts ‘knowledge’ above ‘ability’ and ‘understanding’, and, well, ‘knowledge is power’! Yes, power addicts have no interest in understanding things, but the certainly see lots of value in ‘knowledge’.
As for technology, to quote (approximately) from ‘Harry Potter’: it’s marvellous the things people invent to get by without magic! The implication is the same as I have been making above: that technology is just making up for increasing deficiencies of the human mind, bolstering it, providing a crutch.
But the decline continues, and so you go from walking stick, to crutches to wheel chairs --- and what then?
If you think of autism as essentially the place into which the minds of people are descending, and think about what that means in terms of loss of awareness, and loss of abilities, and of what suits the minds of people who are severely autistic, as opposed to those who are less so, then look at the history of human culture, you will find that it is interpretable in the terms I have suggested above: ie the more modern developments are, the more they support the needs of minds that are further gone into autism.
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dragon added a topic in ExploreThe Fabulous World of PnatodragonThe world view and ideas expressed by Dragon derive from a world-view, or metaphysics, that she has developed over the past 20 or so years, and which is still an ongoing effort.
In a nutshell (might be a bit of a coconut at present, but I’m trying for almond!):
Life is a dream, or, in modern terminology, a virtual reality. (This idea goes back to the earliest of times, is found among so-called primitive peoples. Rene Descartes tried it out but couldn’t get it to work.)
People exist as ‘souls’ which are immortal. When the soul ‘dreams’ it has a life. Or, in modern terms, it’s like playing a video-game: the soul ‘plays’ in a video-game in which it has a ‘presence’, or ‘avatar’. Death is a ‘Game Over’, but the soul does not die any more than the player in the video-game. Only that avatar ceases to exist.
But a video-game needs someone to write the game as well as people to play it. The minimum number of participants is one writer and one player. For those familiar with the ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ type of games, the roles of Dungeon Master and Player pretty well show the roles of the two participants.
Thus people are the players, and each of us exists in a one-to-one symbiotic relationship with another, much larger being. I have called it the ‘Quew’ (pronounced Queue.).
As in video games there has to be some communication between the person and the Quew. In real life there has to be a LOT of communication, because it is the Quew’s job to monitor the person’s progress and help him/her along, answer questions, FULFILL DREAMS, guide, teach, monitor health and well-being etc etc. The Quew writes the ‘scenarios’ of the person’s life, but it is the person who sets the goals. The life-plan arranged by the Quew is designed to get a person to where they want to go, to the fulfilment of their dreams – yes, I’m not blind to the fact that at this point most people would object that the system does not seem to be working too well at the moment – I’m coming to that!
As I said, there needs to be communication between person and Quew, and that works through dreams. The dreams that you see in your mind come FROM the Quew, and the dreams that your mind creates are sent TO the Quew. Unfortunately the system has broken down. People have gone silent. They no longer dream and cannot interpret dreams. Also, they no longer tell the truth – to the Quew, that is. They have become corrupted. More precisely, what has gone wrong is that people have discovered POWER, and power is essentially a drug which is addictive and, as with any drug, it’s downhill from then on.
And it’s not just those at the top. It’s everybody; it’s the child that cries because it wants attention; it’s the musician that dreams of becoming a ‘star’;….. it is EVERYBODY.
This is actually good news because this is the simple diagnosis for ALL the problems that beset our world. Solve the addiction problem and we all become happy, healthy bunnies living out our lives in fulfilment of our dreams. And it’s an individual thing. It’s not a ‘save the world’ thing, it’s a ‘save yourself’ thing. In other words, if everyone saves themselves then the rest will follow. Also, as an individual, if you put yourself to rights you will be a happy, healthy bunny who can deal with the world no matter what state it is in. And more, by becoming happy and healthy you ARE actually doing your bit for the world as well and helping it on the way to recovery.
As I said above, communication with the Quew is via dreams. But life is a dream, and that means that life itself, and everything in it, is interpretable just like dreams. So one can communicate with the Quew by interpreting signs and portents, oracle cards, pin-in-a-book, tea leaves in the bottom of a cup, or any other way you can think of – yes, and the world is full of tricksters and charlatans who make pretence.
Where does this leave the world of science? Is it all a BIG MISTAKE, or a LIE? No. Science is not LITERALLY true, but it is metaphorically true. The Cosmos is not a dead thing governed by mechanistic laws, as science believes. Although the order of the ‘cosmos’ is not mathematical, that does not mean there is no order. Existence is ordered by MEANING: That is why everything is interpretable, and that includes science.
You can understand it like this: The language of science is mathematics, and what science is actually doing is describing and telling the story of the cosmos in the language of maths, whereas older belief systems, religions such as Christianity and Hinduism, described and told the story of the cosmos in languages such as Aramaic and Sanskrit. So the scientific description of the origins and evolution of the cosmos is just a myth, like the myths of ancient Greece, or the Bible stories and so on, and can be interpreted in just the same way i.e. you interpret them just like any other dream. And then what it tells you is what is going on in the minds of scientists -- bit of an ‘oh dear’ here!!! (And see that Freud – he REALLY should not have published his dreams – oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!!!)
So how did I tumble to all this?
I was pursuing an interest in the work of Carl Jung and was playing with collages, ‘mandalas’ and the interpretation of dreams. I had a breakthrough with dreams when I had one dream that was so crystal clear that I did not have to think about it, I just instantly understood. That was very encouraging and so I slogged (played) away and made more progress.
After a while I could not help but notice that what was going on seemed suspiciously like a conversation. For example, the dreams seemed to be giving me advice and talking about things I could not know about, and they obligingly took on the task of trying to teach me how to interpret dreams – like in a child’s primer, I might get, say, 5 short dreams, in one night, each with one image. One of these I would be able to understand and it would give me the key to the others, which likely would just be five ways of saying the same thing. Well, if it was a conversation there had to be someone at the other end!
After that I have been working under the guidance/assistance of the Quew. The Quew does not just tell you things though. You have to think it out for yourself. What it does give you is ‘food for thought’ and guidance etc. This is a world where it is ABILITY that is important, not knowledge. (And EVERYONE has, or can have, the ability to do it. A healthy person’s mind grows and develops new abilities all the time.)
---having said that it should be obvious that I would not want anyone to just ‘believe’ what I say, nor to give up their own current beliefs. But if I spark an interest then you need to find out for yourself – ask your Quew. You need to ask a question of some sort. A health question would be good. For example, one of us (see PS below) experienced problems with her hip, such that it basically stiffened up and stopped working. She was concerned that the joint might be faulty and require surgical intervention. Shortly thereafter she had a dream which showed an image of a perfectly working hip joint. She took this to mean that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with the joint, a fact which was born out in time. (The problem was in fact tension caused by stress and it has been cured.) So, choose a health concern and formulate a question then wait for an answer. It will not necessarily come in a dream. It may be that someone you happen to meet will say something relevant, or you might notice something in a book which is relevant – the answer can come from anywhere.
What I am describing is a very optimistic world view. For one thing, it suggests that (Voltaire not withstanding) we live in the ‘best of all POSSIBLE worlds’; it’s just that what is possible for drug addicts is very limited, and people who are on ‘power’ will fight and be susceptible to diseases and so on and so on. But, just come off the drugs and ……well, what IS possible?
Also, the fact that one has mucked up one’s existence is no cause for sorrow – at least, not after one has been ‘cured’. At the beginning of Anna Karenina Tolstoy writes something like this: all happy families are the same, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This is true, and that means that the fact that our world is an unhappy one at the moment means that it is also unique, and that uniqueness will never be lost. Nothing will be lost, and when the world is put to rights, it will be a unique and very exotic place compared to worlds that have never been ‘sick’ or corrupt.
P.S. In case anyone is curious, Dragon is a girl Dragon, and she talks with an accent not unlike that of the actor John Hannah. Also Dragon (aka pantodragon) is actually two people who have been working on this together from the start. No-one else has been involved.
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dragon added a topic in LearnAvatar: Subtle AdvertisingI saw James Cameron’s film Avatar for the first time last night. Being familiar with some of Cameron’s films, I had an idea of what to expect. This film, however, went beyond those expectations. It was far worse than I expected.
Subtlety is not a word one associates with Cameron’s films and, predictably, there was nothing subtle about Avatar. Being impressive is clearly what gives Cameron a hard-on, and that is what this film is all about.
For Cameron, impressive means BIG – and I mean BIG. Therefore the landscape was enormous, dwarfing humans, aliens and animals alike. Trees are as high as mountains. Gigantic stone arches span green chasms that would dwarf the ‘canals’ on Mars. The branches of the trees are as wide as single-track roads, but there are no safety barriers in Cameron’s über-macho world. One slip, one foot wrong, and you fall hundreds of feet to your death. The aliens live a life, quite literally, on the edge, whether it be on branch, cliff-face or floating sky-island.
For Cameron, impressive also equals AGGRESSIVE. The film oozes aggression from every pore. The relentless hostility was extremely wearing. (By the end of the film I was longing for something more domestic, more human, such as Tolkein’s The Shire.)
So, the humans are relentlessly aggressive towards each other, the environment, the aliens etc., etc.. The people, whether army or scientist, are constantly squaring up to each other for one reason or another. The aliens, the blue people, are similarly aggressive to each other. They are like a bunch of lads, being competitive, issuing challenges and counter-challenges continuously.
The fauna that populates Pandora…….. well, what can I say? Not a fluffy bunny in sight. Most of the animals are vicious predators with gaping maws and razor sharp teeth. To say that Pandoran wildlife is red in tooth and claw is a considerable understatement. Naturally the animals never go about their business quietly. They hurtle and crash and thrash and bulldoze and roar and growl their way through the forest in relentless pursuit of their prey – usually a human or an alien. As they hurtle and thrash and thump, the animals somersault to crashing standstills, receiving blows as they do so that would disintegrate normal flesh and bone.
There is nothing in Pandora that is comfortable. There is nothing on that planet that is safe. It is impossible to do anything or go anywhere on Pandora that does not involve putting one’s life in danger.
My impression of Avatar is that it is, basically, Cameron’s earlier film Aliens, but on steroids. To inject the steroids, Cameron has plundered all the most impressive bits from other films, cobbled them together and, using “state of the art” technology, beefed them up as never before. The effect is like going to a heavy metal rock concert with the amplifiers at maximum decibels and not an ear muff in sight. There is no let up. There are no calm moments. It’s all extremely high-octane emotionalism with none of the humour of Cameron’s earlier film Aliens. to leaven the atmosphere.
It’s all very well, however, saying that one does not take this sort of thing seriously, but the influences are subtle, like the influences of advertising. They subtly advertise a concept of the world as extremely hostile. One wonders, therefore, if it is a good idea to watch such films or to expose them to children.
On the one hand, I personally draw a line for myself, and Avatar just scrapes in, but I won’t watch it again. On the other hand, many people experience excessive fear and watching violent films or playing adventure/fantasy video games which make you have to grit your teeth to make you have to withstand the violence, can be used as a sort of simulator where one can acquire a more robust disposition.
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dragon added a topic in History and Philosophy of ScienceThe Roots of Western CivilisationIt is commonplace to see Western Civilisation traced back to its roots in Ancient Greece. The Greeks are credited with inventing or originating everything from democracy, to most of the major forms of literature, to philosophy and science, not to mention the Olympic Games. This is held to attest to the brilliance of the Ancient Greeks, but I find I want to question that and wonder if it does not attest, rather, to the paucity of Western Civilisation.
It may be telling to look at the details rather than the big things. In science, for example, it is thought marvellous that one of the Greeks thought that matter consisted of atoms, an idea which resurfaced in the 19th century and has since become scientific orthodoxy. Perhaps one should be asking why it is that we have not come up with something different in the interim, and to wonder if atomic theory has only resurfaced because modern scientists are not above mining the past when they are short of ideas. (One sees this sort of thing happening in other disciplines.) The reply might be that atomic theory has become orthodoxy because it has been backed up by experimental evidence. I’m not convinced. I do not find it compelling that there might not be some other, possibly better, model for the substance of the universe.
Then there is the earth, water, air and fire idea, where some Greeks espoused the idea that everything is composed of these 4 elements. That seems very close, like it might be the father of, the idea that there are 3 states of matter, solid, liquid and gas, plus energy. I do not want to make too much of the detail. The main idea is that there are 4 substances, and then each generation of ‘thinkers’ just takes the idea and then makes a name for themselves by giving it a slightly different interpretation.
Mind you, when you think of the idea that all life evolved from fishes, which was suggested by some ancient Greek philosopher or other, one does not need to do much re-interpreting.
I find I can play this game with any number of ideas that go back to Greek times: i.e. if you abstract the main idea, or concept, from its detailed representation then you find that precious few new concepts have appeared since ancient times. All we have is modern interpretations of old concepts.
Then there has been much ado in the UK about the Olympic Games of late, not surprisingly, and that bring to mind the idea of ‘competition’. I have no idea where the idea that competition leads to excellence comes from, but the Ancient Greeks certainly were competitive, and the modern world has certainly not discarded that idea, quite the reverse.
A nice example of how competition works was offered by the film I watched last night: AVATAR.
Briefly, the story so far (I am watching the film in two parts, second part tonight): it is Sci-Fi, set on a distant planet where explorers have discovered large deposits of an incredibly valuable mineral. Big Business has therefore arrived, in the form of a mining company determined, by whatever means necessary, to get its hands on the mineral. Unfortunately, the indigenous population of ‘primitives’ are unwilling to have their world plundered and refuse to cooperate, i.e. relocate to some other part of the planet out of the way of the mining operations. This planet is hostile, as in off-the-scale hostile, and lethal to unprotected humans. Scientists have, however, come up with a way to make face-to-face contact with the indigenous. They have been able to grow bodies identical to those of the indigenous people and then to connect humans to these bodies in such a way that they can remote-control the bodies. Really, the humans more or less transfer their consciousness to these bodies, so that, to all intents and purposes, for the duration of the connection, the humans ‘become’ indigenous people and so can go about on the planet and talk to the real natives. These manufactured bodies are called Avatars.
The scientists are represented as benign, the good guys, who are interested in the marvel this planet has to offer, and who want to use persuasion to get the natives to make way for the mining operations. If the scientists do not succeed, then the military will do the job.
The main characters here are a human male, a disabled ex-marine, who ‘inhabits’ one of the Avatars, and a female native. He is the first Avatar – the natives are perfectly aware that these Avatars are not the real thing – that has been accepted by the natives, and he is given the opportunity to join them, to be initiated into the ‘tribe’. This means learning to do all sorts of horrendously dangerous things. This is a ‘lads’ world, a high-octane world, a world of challenge and counter challenge, a world of if there is a choice between an easy way to do a thing and a dangerous, difficult way to do a thing they choose the dangerous, difficult way – this is a competitive world.
The interesting scene is the one where the native female meets the ex-marine (I think his name was Jack) in his avatar. The avatar is totally at sea in this world, has no idea how to cope, and is clumsy. The female saves him from some predators but then turns her back on him and walks off. She is full of derision, calling him a baby, her voice loaded with scorn. This is a really bad attitude. This is competitiveness. This is a closed mind that is going to be forever trapped within itself, a closed universe from which nothing escapes and into which nothing enters. This is a mind which will never have anything more than what it was born and brought up with.
How she would have better reacted is to think, “Here is someone who is obviously not from this world, or any place like this. If he came from a world like mine he would not seem like a baby here. This is someone who can show me new things, who can tell me about other worlds, who can introduce me to new concepts and ideas. This is an opportunity to expand my mind.” To have befriended him would have been far more beneficial, and MORE FUN, than to call him ‘loser’ and walk off with her nose in the air.
This seems to me to illustrate very well how competitiveness hinders rather than drives progress and creativity and the like.
The scientists coming to this world, on the surface may seem to be exhibiting a different attitude. They see that there are interesting things going on in this ecosystem and want to study and learn. But take a closer look: they are coming to this world with the utter conviction in the superiority of science. They call the natives primitive because they do not have technology without ever thinking that this might be a different kind of being, that there may be a non-science based way of life which is every bit as advanced, or potentially more advanced, than their own. They do not leave their science behind and come with an open-minded willingness to learn. The only difference between the scientists and the female who turned from Jack with such scorn is that, instead of walking away, the scientists stay to conquer. One might say that they are even more aggressively competitive than the female. They have already managed to open a school, though I think the natives have boycotted it, and no points for guessing what that school would have been teaching! No, the scientist may wear a benign smile, but behind the smile is all the fervour of a religious zealot out to make a convert.
So, back to my original point, which was that we perhaps should not look with such admiration at the Ancient Greeks, but wonder why we have advanced so little, why things have changed so little, since then. It is very easy to feel self-satisfied with all this technology about, but being unable to see how we would have progressed if we had not been so competitive, without being able to see what our cultures would have become under other circumstances, we are merely running on self-satisfaction, and not on evidence of any sort.
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dragon added a topic in CommunitySome words of explanationSome Words of Explanation
I intend to contribute a lot of posts to this forum (and others) over the next wee while. I feel this needs to be said because I may not, at least to begin with, be able to reply to all comments (- always supposing a significant number of these posts do actually attract comment.)
So why contribute so many posts? Because over the past 20 or so years my understanding of the world has undergone such a radical change that I have been forced to, as it were, return to childhood and start all over again to develop that understanding, and to develop new attitudes, ideas and behaviours etc in light of this new understanding.
Furthermore, my new understanding has allowed me to understand EVERYTHING. I can look at every aspect of our world, of knowledge, culture, life, the mind, the natural world etc etc, and see cause and effect, see how it all makes sense, forms one complete picture, and one complete, purposeful story of the human race.
I dare say that seem like a rather large claim, but that is neither here nor there, and in any case, anyone who chooses to follow these posts will be able to judge the truth of the claim for themself.
So, to return to the large number of posts: as you can imagine, rethinking EVERYTHING is not the task of a few months, or even a few years. It is the task of many, many years, and is still very much an ongoing task – and the more so as it is not just a matter of “rethinking”. For example, you will never really understand, say, music, or science, or art or whatever if you do not do it yourself. You need to have the personal experience of a thing in order to really understand it. So there is as much “doing” as “thinking”.
Anyway, these posts are records of my thinking as I do it – and here I get to the reason for my posting: I do hope to get comments/arguments/discussions for the simple reason that it stimulates my thinking and helps it to move along.
You will find I do not use the structures and language, of the academic world. You may feel my arguments lack rigour. That is quite deliberate. There is a “philosophy” behind this, but I will not go into that here. Suffice it to say that, whatever you may think of the style and language, I do NOT actually seek to persuade. This is about “thinking” and not about “belief”. (If a person develops their ability to “think”, then the “beliefs” will take care of themselves.)
Finally, this exercise will last as long as I am tolerated on the forum/as long as I feel I am getting something out of it – and that may be a week, a month, a year or more.
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dragon added a topic in LearnMein KampfCurrently I am reading Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler’s observations about reading struck me as very insightful. He criticises people who claim to be well-read, because, in fact, through the course of their reading they have merely amassed and carry about with them an enormous ‘”ballast” of random facts without making any attempt to think about or organise those facts (he says that if assimilated correctly, the facts should fit together rather like pieces of a mosaic), to distinguish between the useful and the useless, and to then dispose of the rubbish.
There are two things that struck me about this, the first being that throughout my life, being insightful and an able thinker are not qualities I have been taught to associate with Hitler. Quite the opposite. Secondly, insightfulness and able thinking are not qualities I find much in evidence in any area of modern life and that includes the academic world where a strong preference for running on memory only is very evident.
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dragon added a topic in ExtendChinese WhispersI first noticed this phenomenon in connection with children’s colouring-in books.
Modern versions are obviously made using clip-art. This is obvious from the mistakes and distortions that one sees. For example, one might see a penguin roosting in a tree, or a polar bear eating bananas while pushing its way through the jungle! And then there are the images that have obviously been stretched or skewed to make them fit the space, and so you get these really weird, distorted objects or animals. And then there is relative proportion, where you can get a flower standing alongside a tree which is smaller than the flower, and perspective, where you get something small and high in the picture, indicating that it is supposed to be in the background, but it actually sits in front of something that is supposed to be part of the foreground. What children make of these things I do not know, but their colouring-in books are becoming increasingly surreal!
Another place I have noticed this sort of thing is in children’s text books. Recently I noticed that in two separate books dealing with early civilisations the illustrations of Sumerian temples showed the doors to have arches. Well, among the many things, such as straight roads that go on for ever, that the Romans are credited with inventing is The Arch. Sumerian civilisation was long gone by the time the Romans came on the scene. They knew nothing of arches.
I suppose the illustrator of the first Sumerian temple did not know enough about the subject and so made the mistake of giving the doors arches. Even the editors and writers were not on the ball enough to notice the mistake (though it is a glaring mistake – I am no expert and no nit-picker and yet I noticed it). Then what happens? These were books from different publishers, yet somehow the mistake had transmitted, and may well be still transmitting. Quite possibly illustrators use each other’s work. I mean, it is so much easier to use the work already done by other people than to start from scratch, so it would make sense for an illustrator to look at the work already done on Sumerian temples and then base his own work on that.
This is a sort of Chinese whispers problem, where a mistake made by one person gets copied and passed on. The process is cumulative so that mistakes mount up until what is being passed on is a very distorted version of the original true one.
Finally, I recently noticed what, I presume, is a sort of clip-art distortion creeping into film: it was a film located in the frozen north, where, in a night-time scene the background noise was of cicadas singing!!! No, you do not get cicadas in the north, and especially not in snow. I suspect that whoever was in charge of providing background sound effects just thought, ‘night-time’, perhaps thought of the kind of atmosphere he wanted to create, and then went to the sound-effects clip-art library and found ‘cicadas singing’ and thought, ‘that will do’.
The point is that I am seeing more and more of this sort of thing in more and more places. It is obviously a problem that occurs because people are relying on memory or memory devices rather than on their own experience.
One has then to wonder about the academic world, where things are handed on from paper to review article to paper to review article to text-book to text-book to text-book ad infinitum. And the problem of checking all one’s fact right back to source is daunting to say the least. You only have to walk into the departmental library of any university department and you will quail at the very thought. And that supposes that the original writers/researchers did not make mistakes, which they do.
One is therefore faced with the uncomfortable thought that Chinese whispers are having an increasing effect on everything one learns from books – rather than, say, from personal experience. That the world as portrayed to us in academic, as well as popularised, text-books is becoming increasing weird, untrue and surreal, just like the pictures in children’s colouring-in books!
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