Month: May 2015

An Ecletic Periodical

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”

-E.O Wilson

Information in the digital age is as critical as it is overwhelming. However, because it is intertwined with cultural relics, selfish interests, specialist blindness, the majority of publications are misleading at best. Snippets of sentimentalism and disjointed “facts” unrelated to any sort of recurring theme are bound to irresponsibly incite emotion or be excreted as quickly as they were consumed. A quality publication operating under the Renaissance ideal in mind has the potential to bring many different people together, to encourage a rational exchange of ideas and facilitate the shedding of cultural conditioning and cognitive biases.

Knowledge is a whole, not a plurality. As Leibniz, da Vinci, Goethe, Thomas Young and other intellectual giants have realized after years of grueling journeys into dozens of unrelated subjects, one cannot talk about anything without talking about everything. It is within this alien and demanding frameworks modern civilization finds itself. The Himalaya-like stacks of new abstracts are too much for any one person to tackle, yet a group of dedicated people can distill the most vital parts and present it in a way that is stimulating, coherent, entertaining and, above all, useful.

The goal is not to paint easily forgotten miniature scenes, but to create a panorama with each issue. Whether it is avoiding an outdated medical procedure, better investing one’s time and money, or overhauling one’s entire belief system, unfamiliar ideas matter more than familiar ones. Although always crucial in war as well as peace, the effective dissemination and analysis of intelligence matters more now than ever. Sadly those with the intelligence to competently process data are the ones least likely to have the time to sift through it.

Specialization will never be completely annihilated. Nor am I advocating its annihilation. While the door may not slam shut, there will be fewer as greater amounts of creativity and interdisciplinary proficiency  are required to produce new advances. The sort of person who scoffs at this idea is likely illiterate. Not by the laughably low standards set by governments, but by the standards that are increasingly being enforced by economic reality. To some degree we have all been cheated by a particularly pernicious meme: exercising even an interest in a field outside one’s own is, at best, a waste of  time. At worst it is a mortal sin and an insult to its practitioners to even dabble. Need I mention all of those working outside of academia who have made lasting and various contributions to human thought?

A topic like nanotechnology, for example, is complex. It requires knowledge physics, chemistry, (perhaps) biology, law, economics, culture, corporate behavior, and international relations. A useful article may also require some guesswork since so much time is consumed by trying to create accurate forecasts–and with good reason. Predictions can be made more sound when an integral approach is adopted. There are a few bland dialectics in American politics. Swinging always between thesis and antithesis. Nowhere are Bourdieu’s ideas more applicable than mainstream culture. Fields and games, wherein the most ridiculous events are taken the most seriously  and glamour obscures by blinding. It is time to rise above the machinations of mere sociology and renounce our amor fati. This odyessy begins with our minds.

And all things must have a beginning.

Sonnet for Christy, A Haiku, and an Obscene Narrative

     lulu

                 Sonnet VX

With what words could I express the comely

Cascading of your silvered curls still golden?

How I wish to comfort and make you see

That I pay no heed to the thoughts of men

Or the three decades between our ages.

For what is life without wonder and reach?

What are young girls? Books with no pages.

They have much to learn and little to teach.

If this argument does not prove me true

And your strange doubts darken into despair

Remember your beauty the years will renew

And in my eyes you are forever fair.

Do not worry, love. Let the seasons bring

Songs old and new, to cherish, and to sing.

        Haiku V

My steps stir the wind

As my breath touches the leaves

The air becomes me


Our Dead Child 

Do you remember our darling Billy,

How with untied shoes he’d rove

And burn his tongue on the stove?

Remember the cup from which he drank

And the putrid growths that took his throat?

It was herpes, and that would denote

An origin from your hand and a place

I would rather not say in the presence

Of lisping Willy’s fading memory.

Your fish tank took up too much time

And the crawdad claw sales operation

Was merely a sham of an invocation

Of an avuncular nature. Pleasing spirits,

You killed our child. Dead uncles should rest,

For a niece too fond of them is not blessed.

Your cavern’s heat forced our son to meet

An early demise, yet I do not despise you.

Remove your clothes to reveal the mess

Straining the fibers of your dress.

Let’s stop fighting over the lost boy,

He’s even uglier in death than life

And you, you whore, are still my wife.

Let me put rich red shiraz in the cup

From which our dear Billy once drank

Cheers! The world is our septic tank.

An Excerpt from Scipio

MILE_Logo

This is an excerpt from a blank verse drama I started writing many years ago. The speech seems pertinent to the cause of life extension. I intend to finish it sometime in July.

Tell me, I plead, tell me who I must be.

Beneath these young stars, among the

Windblown forests covered in ashen hopes.

Sylvan spirit, daemon, unknown deity,

Come, speak, tell me if I am but the ship

Of Theseus, my being nothing but change:

And remain here in name and name alone.

Then I am hapless flux cloying the void:

Dancing, touching, and awaiting darkness.

Yet I lapse, cry, falter. No more. I must

Revive the verve mangled by small minds:

So my flame shall never lose its force,

Nor smolder weakly and bow to creeds

Untrue, made by the wrinkled idols

Of the damned, the feeble, the softhearted.

Nor shall I adopt a fool’s dreams to excuse

Dimming resolve in the face of a foe

So ancient and tireless, feckless and cruel.

If Olympus awaits, it can wait more.

What I am: soldier, scholar and Roman

Will never reach the outer bounds of me.

Not even that dreaded word, Destiny,

Can vanquish true immortality.

Take away all the idle things life brings

But cannot bring life back, even to me.

Let me live and love without legacy

Through some elixir or philosophy,

Preserve me, for I am all that I am

And rotting remains of ill-preserved deeds

Are shadows of life and its mysteries.

Four Fun Paradoxes

gallows

Swingin’ on the Gallow’s Pole

A certain city has an unusual law. All of those who want to enter must truthfully say why they are visiting. Those who lie are hanged. One day a man answers, “I have come to be hanged.” What will happen?

Let us assume the man is stating his business truthfully. If he was planning to visit the bars and see a prostitute he would be lying and therefore condemning himself to death. If he is telling the truth, then what shall happen? One can only be punished if one is lying, so he will be granted entrance and hanged. But for what reason? He did not say he would be convicted of a crime and executed because of it. He and the guard (who must be omniscient) know something we do not. The gap in the narrative does not mean there is any contradiction here. Maybe the man knows he is going to hang himself with the assistance of a friend? Maybe he wants to go out like David Carradine. In this scenario both people are completely certain of the traveler’s fate, ergo his proclamation is a prophecy he intends to fulfill. If he is lying his fate is the same. He is telling the truth in either case.

                   Lawyers, Logic and Money

An enterprising law professor named Maxwel teaches young lawyers the art of deceit erm…rhetoric. He agrees to waiver his fee if his student does not win their first case. Upon graduating one especially wily student decides to sue him for his tuition, reasoning he will not need to pay whether he wins or loses. In court Maxwell retorts, “if he wins the case he must pay me and if he loses he must pay me.”  Who is right? 

One can only imagine how long this case would draw out if two skilled sophists were allowed to argue.This knot seems particularly hard to untie since both men appear to be in the right, logically speaking. Of course a real court would recognize the absurdity of the lawsuit. This paradox is seemingly airtight in its ambiguity, but we see two layers. What comes first? The question then becomes whether the ruling will override the initial contract or not. Ordering the actions, like in a computer program, seems to be the best solution. The plaintiff wins and therefore does not have to pay, but he still has to pay because of the original agreement.

The Really Heavy Stone 

Can an omnipotent entity create a stone so heavy that he himself cannot lift it? 

   Hegel conceived of God as a being evolving towards perfection, of which all people and things are a part. This seems like a better explanation than most because it accounts for the quirks and imperfections we see in the world. In such a universe such an entity could be temporarily fazed by a too heavy stone but would eventually learn how to move it. Is such a situation the product of a God limited by time or a self-limiting God? Should he purchase a law of attraction course so he can fulfill his desires?  Can he make a burrito so spicy he cannot eat it? An omnipotent or nearly omnipotent can limit himself, and does in various mythologies for one reason or another, but presumably the postulator of this paradox presumes God is using his full powers. In which case we must say that the infinite is ever expanding, otherwise it would not be infinite or eternal. Theology, the preferred means of mental masturbation in the Middle Ages, was the medieval equivalent of postmodernism.

Murray Gell-Mann: He's Sexy and he Knows It

Murray Gell-Mann: Sexy and He Knows It

How to Get Slapped

1) Will you answer the next question in the same way you answer this one?

(Hopefully they say “yes”)

2) Will you sleep with me? 

This does not seem particularly paradoxical, but it is funny. In the right environment it would be a halfway decent line. If you have rapport this would be a funny way to seal the deal. If not, expect to be violently rebuked. Yes, there are some rather dimwitted people who are, for lack of a better word, sapiosexuals—as much or more so than those who claim to be. When confronted by people who’ve adopted this identity I show them pictures of Murray Gell-Mann and Freeman Dyson. Usually they refuse to sleep with either of these brilliant fellows. Thus proving the nonsensicality of sapiosexuality. Wanting one’s partner to be fluent in their native language and competent at using silverware does not warrant sexual rebranding.