Walking off a Cliff: the Progress Blindfold

While watching CNN International, I saw a commercial for a program  “Planet in Peril” that was going to have a discussion about vanishing species, which discussion was taglined (a verb?) “Planet vs. Progress.”  Not unlike the name “Planet in Peril,” which really isn’t the case — it’s life in peril or life system in peril — something about that tagline didn’t sit right in my head.  Part of the commercial talked about “balancing” the needs of a system where layers upon layers of living things depend on each other in order that the system actually be viable…or should I have understood that as balancing the needs of the natural system with the economic “needs” of a human society?

Not too long ago, I wrote a post on this, wherein I pondered (using basic things as examples) how humans, having conceptually divorced themselves from nature, could rationally think that we aren’t harming our environment. I also mused over how humans have institutionalized the conceptual divorce, officially boxing in our perspectives: our economics, cultural institutions, religion*, laws, ways of life have all been inextricably codified and form the basis of all that we seem to know. We can’t easily re-align our consciousness to be part of nature without destroying what we view as indispensable to human society. The notion of “progress” is a significant problem to overcome.

Here now again, I wonder: how can we call anything “progress” if it really isn’t?
I suppose we have to lay out in the open what it is we mean by “progress.” Continue reading

pthd, pthd, pthd — Meep meep!

A friend of my said, in the course of a conversation of a political nature, that, since politics is in its current state with the strength of extreme characterizations of partisan positions, providing ample fodder for humorists, Colbert is successful; and he would not be as successful if this were not the case.

My first thought was this was a tautological (petitio principii, begging the question, or circulus in probando, circular reasoning) because it sounded like he was saying, “Colbert is successful in the current circumstances that allow him to be funny, but under different circumstances, he would not be successful.”  The circle would happen by unconsciously accepting the assumption that the requirement for his success is due to the extremes in political positions, actions, statements, etc.  If there were not extremes, which create comedic fodder, Colbert would not be “successful.”

But I wasn’t sure, so I peppered him with an opening salvo of queries. The exercise was to try pealing back the layers of assumption for some sort of insight into why he would make such a statement and reveal what he was “really saying.”

Note: when I say “humor”, I mean humor, comedy, and satire; by humorist, I mean humorist, comedian, and satirist.

Continue reading

Alien Rhetoric

I have not happened upon a formula that can be employed in argumentation (where persuasion is a primal motive) to influence my fellow arguer’s position or thinking process to a degree that has apparent instant and lasting effects. This is not really as important to me as being able to detect that I have reached my fellow in a meaningful and positive way. I’ve been pondering this more or less since forever, but not syllogistically or systematically. Not that this note will be syllogistic or systematic, but I hope the stream of thought will be refinable and productive toward uncovering the imagined formula. Imagined because I can conjure scenarios in my head about wonderful, edifying, fallacy-free exchanges of ideas (that don’t attack the other’s character); but these scenarios always rely on an assumed level of relatively balanced Continue reading

Soul of Happiness

A super-dear friend of mine, with whom I’ve been a soul-mate and “brain-lover” (as we have labeled it) over the many years we have known and interacted with each other, has been caught up in a whirlpool of ambient negativity and misfortunes. Over the past 6+ years, I have watched as the personality I cherished began to wither, deteriorate, and crumble leaving what appeared to be a quivering, lost soul without matter, direction or agency.

Her recent living has consisted of underpaid and unfulfilling jobs in companies staffed by petty, small-minded, and sometimes downright evil humans; she has lost half of her retirement fund in the economic “down-turn”; and has contended with the usual stresses Continue reading

Genetics of Love and Liking

Love it is like soup: there is a general consistency that one recognizes as soup, but you can put just about anything into it and still call it soup. I could even mash together another horribly mixed metaphor (another soup) and say that the soup has DNA. It’s taken me MONTHS to write and edit this. I found it hard to keep from drifting down different eddies of interest, over-extending metaphors, and burdening the flow of thought with too many examples and anecdotes.

After writing the post on Subsistence Romance, the number of opportunities I’ve had to talk about recognizing romance in the mundane has been nearly as frequent as the political discussions I attract, but with so much more inquisitiveness and genuine interest Continue reading

Subsistence Romance

I used to think that romance was contrived: one had to generate it because it really was only a fleeting state of mind born of desires to rise above the mundane and exist in a world where love conquers all. But after over 20 25 years with the same guy, I’m wondering: are we doing something existential ourselves, or is romance real?

The other day, a friend of mine used the word “mundane”, as in “Our lives have become so mundane.” I wasn’t sure how to understand that — it required some processing. Since I’m a literal person, my understanding starts with (if I know a word) the dictionary definition. In this case, it would mean something like: everyday, common, found in the ordinary course of events or concerns. But the context of using the word this way provided the interpretive key: “Mundane” was meant to characterize a relationship that had been once perceived as more alive, romantic, and extra-ordinary [hyphen purposeful] only a few months ago when there was more free time and the exigencies of surviving to live another day were obscured by frivolity. It was uttered pejoratively, saturated in remorse and Continue reading