Archive for August 2007
Is there much truthiness to this oft-repeated conventional wisdom?
Methinks the classic refrain concerns itself overmuch with the material. For are we to believe the philosophers of tabula rasa, that each man is molded entirely by his world? Do we not bring our body and our genes, our unique personhood, our fallen-ness?
And what man can say just what it is we leave with? What cares and triumphs, what sin and what wisdom our souls have acquired in this lifetime? Are these too to be left behind?
Do we believe in vain
That these stars twinkle for us?
These luminous beauties
whose numbers defy comprehension,
whose size dwarfs our very world
of little rocks and little thoughts-
whose heat overpowers
not mere flesh alone,
but the very atoms which dared
to join together in our creation.
These fierce beauties fill the heavens
with the power of their souls;
grand galactic society;
an attractive binary companion.
Dare we claim to be the center,
To hold the gaze
of the Maker of the Universe?
Who would notice if we
after a brief season
living off the energy of one lonely star
passed on to icy dust
or scattered ashes,
fading away among the ancient lights
The summer is winding to an end; I’ve only got 4 days of work left, and word on Weatherman Street is that it will frost tonight.
This ending, combined with excessive amounts of free time driving back from NYC, gave me the opportunity to think back to the beginning.
I had assumed that my coworkers were simple people; I think I even called them rednecks. In some ways, such as formal education, this is certainly true. But my assumptions were continually confronted by the contrary evidence- their broad knowledge of politics and current events, their deep encouragement of education for the next generation, and of course a working knowledge of things mechanical and practical far outstripping my own.
This, I suppose, I should have seen coming. But the real surprise came from getting to know them as individuals. There were two guys in particular who I identified from the beginning as the most kind-hearted. I was stunned as I learned their stories over the course of the summer; the nicest guys were the ones with pasts that I would have thought would tear most people apart. One had been through the largely physical trauma of brain-melting quantities of drugs and blows to the head. The other has lived his life surrounded by death; his two brothers who died of “lead poisoning”, his service in Vietnam, his coworker who became a serial killer.
I guess our minds and bodies are built to be every bit as adaptable as our impressions.
Is a marvel of engineering… and I’m not talking about the buildings.
I am amazed that men could create such a vast and finely tuned machine for converting money into fun.
Saw this as a bumper sticker on a car.
1) It implies that while the rest of humanity is having some trouble dealing with their newfound knowledge and power, the driver is doing just fine. If not, shouldn’t it say something like “It’s become appallingly clear that *my* technology has surpassed my humanity- watch out when I’m on the road with this beast-rendering speed machine!”
2) It implies that this is some sort of new phenomenon, when we fell from our idyllic past and invented machine guns and atomic bombs. I imagine that our technology surpassed our humanity sometime around the discovery of fire and sharp rocks; if, that is, we imagine that our humanity is kind and compassionate. If, instead, we think of our humanity as sinful, violent and often malicious- well, I’d say humanity is doing a wonderful job of keeping up with the times.
As I get older and gain some experience in the wide world, I realize that some qualities which I had thought were intrinsic to my being were in fact contingent on something else.
When this happens, it feels a little bit like find out that your arm in detachable, or that unaided flight really is possible if you get the ratio of frosted flakes to beer just right.
Usually, these discoveries are really minor, but some are pretty important. In middle school and high school, everyone (including myself) thought I was just a quiet person. To some extent I was just shy. But to a large extent, I was just chronically tired; I realize that I went through high school in a state of continual sleep deprivation. Once I went to college and had classes starting at 11, I was suddenly a lot more social; and now I see as clearly as if it were graphed out this inverse relationship.
Conclusion- don’t make assumptions about your body or personality. Instead, try some natural philosophy, where life is your laboratory.