LIFE: Delightful, yet sometimes sad, we occupy what we call the human condition. Sensing it to be only a temporary location, life offers few clues as to from we come, to where we go, or even if we are. When aspects of life seem challenging we are advised, by those who can’t know, “It’s better than the alternative.”
DELUSIONS AS LIFE: We often believe we are free to think, although within teleological limits, but as social beings we mostly stumble over and around the furniture placed in our minds by others. Willed by others, including those closest to us, these furnishings pose dichotomies (that are generally false), contradictions (which are mostly uninteresting) and dilemmas (whose resolution exceeds our resources). To compensate for our shortcomings in managing all this, we act out as individuals just like everyone else, and then propose: “Well, at least we still have our freedom.” While mostly a vacuous construct, we appear to appreciate it most while supporting processes that enslave others. When all else fails, we attempt expressions, but mostly in small, insignificant ways. From this we ignore what we have done, then become proudly humble of what we could have carried out.
FIXED SANCTUARIES: Beneath all this, we assume ourselves to be less fixed, and more fluid, then others yet, acting in concert with others we readily accept fixing limits to our thoughts and movement. As such, our existence is structured by Catch-22s and ethical double binds of “damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” On the occasions when we actually think about it, we find existence generally strange, and thus respond in a usual human way by busily limiting our time to think.
HOPE, 2000: Just now we talk up the possibilities in social media being on the verge of inventing a new era for humans to link to higher forms of societal enlightenment. Then, while logged in to our two-dimensional screens, we encounter the same jealousy laden, self-fulfilling limitations and sexual dilemmas from which we thought we were rising above. In frustration we then return to the imaginary dreams in following the clearly hollow promises of becoming rich and famous in this life, or contemplating the doorways of death. In both worlds we seek access to groups of vestal virgins or comfort from the man with holes in his hands. Our summary judgment then gets reduced to choice between following the cheap thrills of the Faustian short term or our ill-conceived longer term immortality projects that can be even more Faustian.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: We argue over most things, even whether we should be arguing. Underlying this are issues of the relative importance of: voice, choice or wisdom, while having little of each. When we reflect about it, we note that those with voice mostly use it to irritate those who still listen. Those with choice mostly invest it in the immediately meaningless of the day, while busily constructing immortality projects, that are to be paid for by others. Wisdom, when we have glimpses of it, seems to get banished from our life support systems. We almost always prefer smart to wise, and while being smart we use the technology that could allow us to expand beyond ourselves to reduce and enslave others. Until someone discovers a way to vaporize a major city, via the technology that was to free us from the slavery of need, we may not quite understand the intuitive gaps in what we have come to call sensing, feeling and thinking.
WISDOM: Individuals laden with wisdom are hard to define and even harder to find. As such we confine what they offer to the land of uncertainty, or simply banish them to the universe of ambiguity. Our collective challenge seems to be how to get beyond this avoidance of a need for wisdom. Knowledge-based enlightenment can be helpful, in that it is certainly better than a data driven death, but wisdom is not more knowledge. Even those aware of the difference seem to prefer aligning their activities with the certainties of facts while shunning the uncertainty of ideas. Just now the human project seems to prefer data mining to idea refining. Presumably, this can be changed, but how?
DATA MINING IN PLATO’S CAVE: Herein, the value of data driven reality is given less importance. The questions being raised are more fundamental and fundamentally different. They arise from differences that can make a difference. They look to the contents and intents of three worlds: 1) the rational, 2) the irrational, and 3) the non-rational.
We humans seem to prefer the limits of the first two, while avoiding to the potentials of the third. One and two address the essence of how we describe what humans are and do. In this humans retain the certainties of 17th Century versions of enlightenment, but ignore all that was known before.
HOPE IN THE NON-RATIONAL: The third, the world of the non-rational, offers resources for a new kind of human project. It offers a way out from current self-imposed human conditions. While there is ambiguity about what lies on the other side of the door, it may soon be our only choice.
I would propose that we humans emphasize the power of the rational, while ignoring the far greater potential of the non-rational. We try to not notice the limits of unaided rationality; unaided by all the other ways of knowing. We thus beget and soon encounter the dangers of the irrational, then turn irrational ourselves. The emphasis on demands for rationality, in what we expect others say and do, (an obvious means to control them) seems to excite greater irrationality in them than rationality. This, in turn, excites our irrationality thus we emphasize our version of rationality even stronger.
Much of what we see wrong about our present situation falls into one of the following three perspectives:
- That someone is out to get us and we need to get them before they get us, or,
- Our life is simply a test track for an after-life, thus we should concentrate on finding and studying the right driver’s manual before the day of the big test comes along, or,
- As little Pogo once said in his simple-minded comic strip: “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”
GROUP A: The first camp is heavily populated and especially weary (paranoid?) about any efforts that seem like change. Members of the camp studiously avoid reflection on what they or others actually say. They great each other with the never heard question: “Hi. How are you?” They support almost any actions that promise to freeze, or reverse, societal progress. They hate what they see as “progressives.” The idea of culture is their ally. They see, and probably should see, parallels between their angst and the downfall of all societies; Rome, Myan cities, Spain, England and other constructions leading to societal abandonment. Their key philosophy is perhaps best exemplified by a comment once whispering to me:
“Remember David, even paranoid people have someone after them.”
GROUP B: The second group is relatively harmless. Its members primarily watch TV, consume large amounts of sugar, rely on their government to manage their affairs, and have strongly held beliefs needed no intellectual support for all things. Their reality is structured by wanting clear actions based on obvious convictions. Talking to them reveals that: “If you don’t worship our beliefs, which, by the way, we don’t know very well, then you must be against us; i.e., you are the enemy.”
GROUP C: Members of the third group are the skeptical of reality, especially the versions seen by Groups A and B. They tend to be pains in the ass. They demand coherent responses to underlying questions. They see how their own words and actions have contributed to society’s problems, and are not pleased with it. They are tough to manage via talk of rationality, reason and rationales. It’s hard work being around these people. They keep attempting to take responsibility for what they have done and do, and want you to do the same.
Rationality provides a tidy, predictable world. It appreciates control systems. It offers and supports logical frameworks for structuring chaotic reality. The control it allows works as long it is kept within a closed system. Others, neighbors, foreigners, etc., tend to open up the system and destroy the rationality. Great writers, such as Ambrose Bierce in 1888, was adept at pointing to the weaknesses of all such approaches to closed systems and logic. The strength of rationality is that it is easy to understand. The weakness of it is that to be logical it offers understanding that excludes the problem and the solution.
The non-rational is a messy and chaotic place. It contains religion, politics, aesthetics, poetics and all other forms of confusion that defy rational understanding, control and management. Unfortunately, for those who aspire to control, the non-rational makes their purpose unattainable. In response, control aspirants move to trivialize chaotic. This, in turn, seems only to energize the troubles with the limits of rationality. These difficulties grow to become the irrational.
The contents of this site are dedicated to those who would want to experiment with new ways to see and to manage our realities. This requires suspending our too great faith in methods of control and means of management.
And so it ends: Relationship Alignment: reducing friction, realizing value.