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 above".....

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 it fails.....


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 the choice?

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 things.....

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 "shared experience"?

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:


 trevor batten
Manila, August 2006