Thimbles worth of opinion wrote this in this thread and it seemed worth reposting and commenting on here.
How do you feel about this poem? Not aestheticaly, rather, what internal images are conjured? Can you relate? Do you feel this is an accurate portrayal of mortality and selfish reflection?
I enjoyed it a great deal, and was reminded that I am not dead yet, though, that death is always stalking the mortal.
And that all things will eventually fade away. Suns, Planets, morals, humanity...
Mortality. One truely objective experience.
Whether we shall all break through our physical caseings into spiritual lumination or meerly pass through a curtain into an abyss, the curtain closes on our part in reality.
We are passive after this.
The immediate is our most valuable resource.
It is by this that we will be judged.
What were you worth in your time?
What is your worth when your role is that of influence and not interaction?
What are people saying about you when you go?
And are you wasting time?
These questions can make one lurk at night with restless desires and regretful wishes.
Peace is purged by life's deadlines.
Wherein, I wonder, is the value in that?
The future is your opportunity to make your difference.
The past is dead.
All things are mortal.
The opinions of those to follow will also disappear.
Behind a shade.
Hence our value is defined by our perception.
And is enhanced by the perception of others.
Can I look back and feel satisfied?
I loved that poem. Reminds me of some essay I wrote to get into college (I wrote it on acid, BTW).
Here is my thinking on the subject.
When I was in High School, I did a project in my Psychology class. Me and my partners got a whole bunch of jelly beans of every color, flavor, size, whatever imaginable. And we gave everybody a jar that contained say a dozen jelly beans, the exact same kinds and amounts for everybody. All the same.
That was to represent the collective subconscious.
We then gave everybody (40+) a distinctive bag of jellybeans. i.e. oen person had a bag of big purple jellybeans, another a bag of little yellow ones, each person had a bag of distinct jellybeans, different from everybody else.
And then we had them interact. They'd go to whoever they wanted to and trade a jellybean in their bag for a jellybean in the other person's bag, and place their newly acquired jellybean into a jar.
This went on for 10 minutes or so.
When they were finished and everybody was seated, everybody had a unique jar of jellybeans. It depended on who they got the jellybeans from, what order, all of that.
They all started out the same, but in their interaction with others, they created distinct and unique jars. And the makeup of their jars was entirely dependent on their interactions with others.
Eeek! What do we have here? I skip a couple of days (power outage) and someones taken the time to devote a thread to something I wrote. Sheesh you know how to sweep a guy off his feet Feral.
Ahem. What I was trying to say somewhat is that people see death as their limit and they mostly attempt to transend it by accomplishment, or regret not having transended through some accomplishment.
Their lives are consumed by the future and there no time to think about the now because the future is always there, looming.
We set to achieve goals and pretty soon forget the reason why we wanted to achieve them. Effort out of habit. "The fanatic redoubles his efforts while losing sight of his goals", a quote from batman (who was quoteing someone in this quote I wish I knew who). There was a guy I watched a program of who was the ceo of General Motors. His worth was in the 100's of millions.
He was never home.
Why was he working? To take care of his family? He spent 16 hrs a day working. His wife divorced him. His kids were raised by a nanny and his wife.
When did he forget why he was working? Why did work overtake his family as top priority?
When can we say we can be happy without being important becuase in the long un we are not really.
But this is not a bad thing. It frees us to persue the goals of loving our families and friends. It frees us of haveing something to prove. It allows us to evaluate what is important, the unfeaseable goal of immortality or the present goal of living a happy life.
I'll conclude with a story.
A man filled with the energy of his plans moved back and forth from one foot to another until he could finally push forward and gather Jacob's attention.
"Listen Jacob, I'm going to do great things with my life. And what I want to know is how does it feel to be so well known?"
"The question is not if we are well known but if we know ourselves well," said Jacob, "Our status amoung others is not a burden, it is an illusion. Vanity is it's own mrror, a way we are seduced by what we want to see."
"But I want to feel like something important," said the man.
Jacob smiled and then spoke, "What is important is that you like the Somebody you are."
Jacob the baker : Jacob's Journey
I personally like to mix my metaphors between the jelly beans and Six Degrees of Separation.
"Jellybeans and Separation" is the name of my second single off of my new album, BTW.
In any case, Six Degrees of Separation. You know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody etc etc, we are all intimitaly connected with one another in some fashion, even if we are unaware of it.
It's a powerful theory.
I believe to some degree in Nature. I.E. A lot of what is "you" is your genetic makeup. But I also wholeheartedly believe in and endorse Nurture, which can, at times be as complex and beautiful as any strand of DNA could ever hope for.
If you look at it right.
Which is the rub.
Whether you know it or not, other people effect you. Sure, you start out with a set makeup of jellybeans, but from there, you are free to wander about to anybody eles's jellybean jars you wish.
In every interaction, you take a piece of it with you, a piece of that other person becomes a piece of you. You are the composite of your interactions and experiences with other people. Conversely, you shape the entire world yourself, if to only a minute degree. You interact with somebody else, even for a moment, and a small piece of your life's experiences goes with the other part and becomes a small piece of THEIR life's experiences, helping in some way to add to, delete from, and otherwise shape the makeup of their own jar. When they interact with somebody else, they are giving that other party a piece of their life's experiences, which includes a piece of yours.
And so on etc etc etc.
The size of the interaction can matter. You can be an enormous influence in somebody's life, factor greatly in their makeup, and whenever they interact with others, a large piece of you goes with them, and is disperssed further and further, etc etc.
You are, essentially, the sum total of all experiences that were before you. And you are a tiny piece of all that will come after.
Some people have larger imapacts than other. If you write the Great American Novel, you will touch far more people than if you are a mechanic. Ernest Hemingway, for instance, interacts with thousands of new people everyday, and his jellybeans are still being passed on directly.
But even if you are just a bean-counter (hehehehe) in some office building in Chicago, you are still exparting yourself to everyone you meet, everyone you fuck over, everyone you love, everyone you touch, everyone you talk to, etc etc etc.
And those parts of yourself are added to those parts of the people you interact with, and then their amended parts, which include some of yours, are further exparted.
Etc etc etc etc.
That's how I like to think of it.
And at this point in my life my sphere of influence are you people. I have a wonderful girlfriend and her ass-kickin' son, but I have no "IRL" friends of any sort these days.
But that doesn't bother me all that much.
I sit here, and I give pieces of me to mankind everyday. I post, and some bean counter in an office building in Chicago reads it. And maybe it touches them. Maybe it brightens their day. Maybe it makes them laugh, or think, or cry, or whatever. And then they'll go off and interact with whoever it is that they interact with, and that piece of me I gave them will spread about until it is disperesed amongst all of humankind.
I agree with you Mr. CHiPs, however, I would optimistically argue that it is all nurture and not one iota nature (excluding physical or mental deformations). It would seem that if one were “born” with a propensity towards violence, than we are incapable of trying that person’s action, because that person is not in conscious control of their actions. They are merely physically manifesting desires that they cannot disobey.
In essence, who are we to judge the fate of another? If I were a natural born killer, how could anyone reprimand me for doing what I am supposed to do?
It would seem that people commit to masochistic and involuntary acts rather repetitively (domestic abuse, rape, murder, torture, 9-5 work, traffic, vanity, etc.). I don’t believe that these people are completely responsible for their actions, as they have no idea what they are slave to.
Somewhere in our pasts we have a demon. We all want to hide from the demon, from our thoughts about the demon… But we think and we dwell and we slide deep inside the subterranean pain and torment and pray to a god to save us from our childhood…
But god does not answer. History is replete with thousands of years of gods and wars and hate and violence and divine escapism… We never found our solace though. We never found our absolute. We shelter ourselves in one another while deep inside we have been dying.
And we still haven’t killed the demon…
It took modern ingenuity and industrialization to distract our attention away from our fear and anxiety. Our new divinity... A pantheon of gods to choose from... 400 channels pour forth from our cathode Cyclops. NBC, Disney, Coca Cola, Nike, Adidas, CBS, CNN, etc. etc. etc. Pornography, shopping, drama, intrigue, bullshit bullshit bullshit…
An insubstantial chattering monitor cannot satiate us, although we certainly can become complacent to the empty culture that we allow it to create.
We have the power to change this. To change ourselves, we just need to take it the fuck back. We can turn off the TV and stop believing that we can buy our fucking happiness, or that freedom has anything to do with other people. We can start building ourselves by admitting us passage back into our shadow. We must all visit our demon. We must all meet our demon and we must learn that he is us.
We must walk with our demon as part of who we are, and forgive ourselves for our fear.
And then we will all paint and write poetry and those that kill will kill and those that rape will rape and those that love will love and those that suffer will suffer. It will be our own decision. Our own choice. Not some social predisposition and anxiety induced denial.
People have lost their jellybeans and are passing around dollars and god instead. Trading obvious fiction as fact, waving sitcom personalities like countries wave flags. Group individuality. Groups wielding communal jellybean jars and only sharing incestuously amongst themselves…
This has become disjointed. Sorry. I am ranting and not being very chronological.
men make there own history, but they do not make it just as they please, they do not make it out of circumstances chosen by themselves, but through circumstances trasmitted directly from the past. The traditions of the dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the brain of the living.
'Hell is other people' - Satre
'God is Dead' - Nietzsche
'mans life is nasty, brutish, and short' - Hobbes
Nature versus nurture. That is an interesting ponder. The way I have viewed the subject is that the mind is greatly shaped by genetics. Personality traits such as stubborness, shyness, and even spiritualy are all geneticaly influenced.
Yet the mind is not a static creation. This is why the phantom limb phenomenom exists. The brain loses connection with one part of the body and the parts of the brain responsible attach to another part.
The environment shapes our brain, our mind.
And once our mind has been shaped with a view of our conceptual world our natural tendency is to preserve that shape.
Trust in what we hold to know.
Can one comes across an idea which changes their mental landscape? Break the mold as it were?
Feral is right. The TV media does not seek to revolutionize, that's bad buisness. It's trying to satiate us, confirm our world view. Maybe even amuse us for a bit. Thus the ideas that would confront and affect are being sublimated by the ideas that conform.
Take for instance the movie "Pushing Tin". A great movie until the last five minutes occur during which completely ridiculaous senario takes place because the movie HAS to have a happy ending, no loopholes, no questions.
Don't challenge the audience. They wanna have fun.
The mind atrophies whilest enjoying Moesha.
I think that the repeated rape, act of violence thing bears examination. There is a difference between housing a demon and being controlled by one. We all get temptations towards destructive and callous behavior but the need to act on those temptations is determined by personal makeup.
If we say that the brain is not static and that behavoir can be controlled by the individual then the responsiblility falls back on the individual to regulate their behavoir. And a criminal can't be reformed without accepting that responsibility. As you said "the demon is us" and the mirror on the wall is saying we're real ugly.
People from AA choose treatment. They can't help their urges. I-Kill-People Anomynus hasn't been quite as successful due to the membership decline since it's inception. But I'm sure there are other groups out there. It is possible to control those urges and Treatment does work.
I'm realy tired. Bedtime.
quote:Originally posted by Paint CHiPs: . . . We are all far more immortal than we realize. . . .
Paint? Feral? . . . Gentlemen. Sometimes you two wear me out and, for that, if not for any other reason, I will always hold you dear. I will share some random thoughts, seizing the lateness of the hour as a hopefully plausible pardon should these thoughts tumble from the cliff of reason.
Paint, your comments on immortality evoke images of endless strings of upright dominoes, falling against their neighbors, ad infinitum. Clack-clack-clack . . . .
I agree with you.
Incredible? Not really.
Feral, these questions come to mind: 1) Are humans animals?; and 2) if so, are animals humans?
This thread is excellent. So much to think about. How does your life impact on those with whom you interact? To what extent do others' interactions change your life?
I can see the braid here, like the mobius band - one loop with one side and one edge, endlessly repeating. My life is influenced by you people. I influence you and the others with whom I talk. You have a proxy influence on them. They will affect others, who will affect still others.
Mutual induction. The current flowing in my coils generates current in your's which amplifies the current in mine.
And so on.
Six degrees of seperation. I'm convinced that the internet must have dropped it to only 5, perhaps even 4, by now. In Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life we see the difference one man can make. George Bailey, stressed and unhappy tries to take his own life one night but is saved by an angel, Clarence Oddbody. Angry, George tells Clarence that his existence has been pointless; a waste of time and effort. Clarence transports George to the world in which he wasn't born; shows him how the town, the people, would be without George Bailey.
Big whorls have little whorls,
Which feed on their velocity,
And little whorls have lesser whorls,
And so on, to viscosity.
It works the other way around too.
Never underestimate the difference one soul can make.
What determines who we become? The debate concerning genetics versus experience, nature against nurture rages on. Jellybeans. I like that metaphor. My own philosophy, my world view, my Weltanschauung if you will, is a mish-mash of different thinking. The same can be said for whatever spirituality I have.
There isn't much nature can teach us, you know. Your DNA might determine whether you will have a predeliction for cancer, but whether you turn into a biggoted sociopath or not has more to do with your education, environment and the people and things to which you are exposed in your life.
Living in Northern Ireland has turned me into something of an amateur sociologist. This country is very small and the people here among the most polarised in the western world. I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent individual with fairly sound ideas and opinions on things in general. I look at some of my contempories in Belfast, however, and I realise just how close a call it was. Their idea of a good time is attacking other people simply because they are Protestant and not Roman Catholic, or vice versa. Every 12th July I see young boys, no more than 8 or 9, standing at bonfires burning the Irish flag to display their hatred for the Roman Catholics. Mindless. Their parents and environment taught it to them and they shall in turn teach their offspring. That, those people, that could so easily have been me. It so happens that I was born to two caring people and was brought up and educated in one of the more tolerant areas of this country. It's a close call though. I'd like to have children of my own one day and I fear for them. I worry about my ability to educate them, to teach them the difference between right and wrong. How to I stop them landing in jail by the time they are 18? It's a common theme the world over, but if you let your guard down for one second in many parts of this country, you'll pay for it.
And so on.
"Are humans animals and, if so, are animals humans?"
Humans are animals, yes. We are part of the animal kingdom. Animals, however, are not human. I think I'm taking your quesion, Mr. Stuart, a little literally, but that's how I see it. We're talking sets and divisions here. Human is to animal as can is to six-pack. Some people have a real problem seeing themselves as animal. It conjures up images of our descendence from primates. Do we like to think of ourselves as intelligent apes? Of course not. So we categorise ourselves as something else. That there is about a difference of 3%, genetically speaking, between us and chimpanzees is a fact many choose to ignore.
It's not important though. We may share our similarities but chimps don't write poetry, which is how all of this started.
"It is by this that we will be judged.
What were you worth in your time?.."
This is why we have children though (or it should be, at least) Our desire to pass part of ourselves on to posterity. Find someone to help you make a copy of yourself. Take the best bits of you and of your partner and create something which is greater than the sum of both of you. A Gestalt.
"What did you do Grandad?"
If I hear my Grandson ask me that question I'm hope I won't just have details of my life to relate. I hope I can tell him that I helped make his father or mother. That I made a new person and helped shape them into something special. Which, in turn, had a part in making him.