To Be -Or Not to Be?
-A silly nonsense poem:
There was a silly man
and he said a silly thing
His wife looked sad
and said: "You're mad!"
He said, "Better mad than bad"
and she said "Did y' say I'm bad?"
"No", he said,
"But why" she said...
"Did you say what you clearly said,
if y' didna mean what you said you said?"
"Ah," he said.... "But if I said
'better a nutter than a piece of butter'
would you be a knob of butter?"
"Aha", she said, eyes all a flutter,
"I will be your knob of butter
if that's the price of loving a nutter!"
Now they live as fish and batter
and nothing ever seems to matter
He spreads her butter and she nibbles his bread
and they're both happy and well, it is always said
So what does it matter if you marry a nutter,
as long as you batter the fish and not the butter.....
Jungles and Gardens:
Perhaps this is an important "philosophical" issue.... do "real"
manifestations of our (platonic) ideals actually exist? Should we
(only) work with things as we WANT them to be -or should we accept them
as they ARE (or seem to BE)? Or is, perhaps, the answer "none of the
I guess "exploring" these issues (in a relaxed, dilletante way) is
important for me. Perhaps, even being a dilletante is an important part
of the equation -because, maybe, one only finds the really important
things when one is not looking for them: Just as the "jungle" seems to
function better in self-sustaining itself than the "plantation"
does. If one removes the "soil" in which these things can grow
-then one looses out on valuable "nutrients"..... I've no idea what
this means -it just seems to be experience, that
often when one gives up "trying" (and goes to sleep, perhaps) then
things sometimes (but not always) just fall into place and one sees
that all the answers were there already but one was just too busy
"looking" to be able to see them..... However, I guess, these "answers"
just won't be there if the growing conditions aren't right iether.
So, does one live (or want to live) in a world where things are what
they are -or does one insist upon "civilizing" and "domesticating"
things -so that all (living) things become (like a garden) "organised"
in terms of some (exterior) "human" principle which may not be
(originally) there..... I guess both worlds have their advantages and
disadvantages -so is a compromise possible? Does this "compromise"
bring us into the world of "aesthetics"?
To "explore"these things -one needs to proceed with care -because
sometimes the effects cannot be seen until it is too late..... Perhaps,
a variety of small scale experiments over a long period of time is
better than a single (irreversable) solution which can be a disaster if
Existential fear -a personal story:
I once met a fellow student who told me about waking up at night full of an unknown and undescribable fear....
He said that he felt that this was related to various biblical stories
in which people living in simple conditions were tempted by the Devil.
My friend said that if one conforms to the rules of society -then one
can have all the pleasures (and vices) that society has to offer.
However, if one deviates just a small amount from the acceptable -then
the wrath of society decends upon you -and you becomes filled with
agonising self-doubts as to whether or not your arrogance in defying
society was justified. Can
one then continue to bear the "responsibility" and "consequences" of
I think his interpetation was very wise: I suspect that this does
indeed relate to biblical stories -and to the early development of
various practices such as "desert dwellers", "pole dwellers" and
hermites in general.... Of course, such things are also not limited to
the Jewish/Christian/Moslim tradition iether.
However, perhaps a person does need to live in the "jungle" (or the
"dessert") -in ways that are outside the established ways of society, or at least on the
"fringes"of it - if they are to understand the things that have become
excluded from (or made invisible within) "normal" society....
Perhaps "society" is also failing itself (by depriving itself of essential
knowledge) if it punishes people too harshly for their deviance. On the
other hand, what would happen to "society" if everybody went off to
live in the jungle?
An Existential Paradox:
I'm afraid that I still rather appreciate the idea of a fundamental
communication paradox (quoted in my "What is CMM?" but originally
presented in a conference of egineers)....
The idea is that if an "observer" (a robot or a real person) is sent to
a totally strange environment and asked to report back -then,
initially, the reports will be very understandable but misleading
(because the "observer" does not know how to interpret the things it
"observes"). Later, when it understands the new environment better it
will send back messages that are more reliable -but, unfortunately,
probably connot be understood by those back home.....
In my experience -this doesn't only apply to space travel (which is
what the original paper was referring to) but it also works for ANY
change of environment.... After a while, it seemed impossible for me to
communicate to people in England how life in Holland was.... perhaps
the only people who shared my "view" (or "experience") were the British
(or other) ex-pats who had been through similar experiences.....
The situation is repeated in my new environemt: At first I could only
interpret what I saw here through the eyes of the person that I was at
the time I came.... Now, I hope that I can see some of the complexities
and nuances that lie beneath the surface.... but it is of course
impossible to communicate these things to the people back home (in
Holland, in Britain, or elsewhere) who have not experienced such
This paradox also operates on an international scale: How can one
communicate the complexities of the horrors of life in Iraq to a person
living in comfort in the US (who has their own problems of survival)?
How does one communicate to somebody under rocket attack in Israel the
situation of somebody being bombed by Israeli forces in Lebanon? How
does one explain to each side how complicit they are in creating the
forces that threaten their own existance?
But these things operate on a personal level too... How can two (or
more) people communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other -if
each interprates things in their own "language" instead of the
"language" of the speaker? How can two (or more) people develop a
"shared language" without "shared experiences" -and how does the
creation of this "linguistic/experience" bond beteeen them affect their
relationship with others in the outside world who have not had this
If one person lives in the dessert (or the jungle) and their friends
and family all live at "home" -then how can their friends and family
ever understand the person living in conditions that they have
never experienced? Perhaps, real "love" transcends
"understanding" -and one "loves" (or accepts) somebody even if one does
not "understand" or "agree with" them.... However, this is not to say
that (in practice) such a thing is easy!
Mystics and Symbolists
Epistemology and Ontology:
Manila, August 2006