Archives for category: monism

At TED, Richard Dawkins told a marvelous story I’ve never heard before.

We’re now so used to the idea that the Earth spins, rather than that the Sun moves across the sky, it’s hard for us to realize what a shattering mental revolution that must have been. After all, it seems obvious that the Earth is large and motionless; the Sun, small and mobile.

But it’s worth recalling Wittgenstein’s remark on the subject. “Tell me,” he asked a friend, “why do people always say it was natural for man to assume that the Sun went round the Earth, rather than that the Earth was rotating?”

His friend replied, “Well, obviously because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth.”

And Wittgenstein replied, “Well, what would it have looked like, if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?”

Let the Secretary for Porcelain observe
That evil made magic, as in catastrophe,
If neatly glazed, becomes the same as the fruit
Of an emperor, the egg-plant of a prince.
The good is evil’s last invention. Thus
The maker of catastrophe invents the eye
And through the eye equates ten thousand deaths
With a single well-tempered apricot, or, say,
An egg-plant of good air.

Wallace Stevens, from Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas, 1942

Television seems to be addictive. Because of the way the visual signal is processed in the mind, it inhibits cognitive processes. Television qualifies more as an instrument of brainwashing, sleep induction and/or hypnosis than anything that stimulates our conscious learning processes.

Television is a form of sense deprivation, causing disorientation and confusion. It leaves viewers less able to tell the real from the not real, the internal from the external, the personally experienced from the externally implanted. It disorients a sense of time, place, history and nature.

Television suppresses and replaces creative human imagery, it encourages mass passivity, and it trains people to accept authority. It is an instrument of transmutation, turning people into their TV images.

By stimulating action while simultaneously suppressing it, television contributes to hyperactivity.

Television limits and confines human knowledge. It changes the way humans receive information from the world. In place of natural multidimensional information reception, it offers a very narrow-gauged sense experience, diminishing the amount and kind of information people receive. Television keeps awareness contained within its own rigid channels, a tiny fraction of the natural information field. Because of television we believe we know more, but we actually know less.

By unifying everyone within its framework and by centralizing experience within itself, television virtually replaces environment. It accelerates our alienation from nature and therefore accelerates the destruction of nature. It moves us farther inside an already pervasive artificial reality. It furthers the loss of personal knowledge and the gathering of all information in the hands of a techno-scientific-industrial elite.

Television technology is inherently antidemocratic. Because of its cost, the limited kind of information it can disseminate, the way it transforms the people who use it, and the fact that a few speak while millions absorb, television is suitable for use only by the most powerful corporate interests in the country. They inevitably use it to redesign human minds into a channeled, artificial, commercial form, that nicely fits the artificial environment. Television freewayizes, suburbanizes and commoditizes human beings, who are then easier to control. Meanwhile, those who control television consolidate their power.

Television aids the creation of societal conditions which produce autocracy; it also creates the appropriate mental patterns for it and simultaneously dulls all awareness that this is happening.

Jerry Mander. 1978. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. New York: Quill.

The Church says, The body is a sin. Science says: The body is a machine. Advertising says: The body is a business. The body says: I am a fiesta.

Eduardo Galeano

Love has no power. Love is the willingness not to have power. Love is when you choose not to impose your own preferences on the choices being made by someone else.

We hear that “love brings people together.” No, people bring people together. Sometimes they choose to love. It doesn’t happen by accident. It requires a choice. You’re building something that wasn’t there before. Love is a geometrical construction in interpersonal space, like ikebana. People move toward love – arrange love – make love – if they wish. There is no “power of love,” just as there is no “power of triangles.” It can’t tell you what to do. It can’t even make suggestions.

I’m not saying that love is not beautiful. Love is the beautifullest thing ever. And one of the ways in which it is beautiful is that it is not a form of power. You can’t manipulate people with love! Love is when you don’t manipulate them.

Love can’t even untie the knots in your heart. You untie the knots yourself – then, if you choose to, you love.

One of the beautiful things about planet Earth is that it does not care whether we live or die. It is independent. It has its own thing going on. We are tiny, tiny mites on the surface of the Earth. And some day, if we’re careful, if we care, we will learn how to live on the Earth without wrecking it. You see: it doesn’t care if we wreck it, but we should, because it is we who find it beautiful. Some day whole nations will move across the Earth and leave every place just the way they found it, not a blade of grass bent over. And they will do this not because the Earth wants them to, but because they want to.

Some people are fond of saying that for certain kinds of questions, having the question is more interesting than learning the answer. If you mention that at least some of these questions can now be answered in some detail, they are offended!

Personally, I don’t have any questions I’d prefer to leave unanswered. When I ask, it is because I want to know. Science has no use for rhetorical questions.

Oh, there’s a grain of truth in the idea that no matter how much you know about this world or how you came to be a part of it some kind of mystery remains. You never get to the final “Why?” or the ultimate “Here’s why!” But this is just a facet of human psychology, not a general truth about nature. To call life, or the world, or the universe questions is to miss the point. The point is: here we are, on this planet, in this life, at this moment. These are not questions, they are facts, and that is why they are beautiful.