#132

ben-kolde-367194
ben kolde (unsplash)

 

we are connected
in so many ways

and it’s harder than ever
to make an actual connection.

~
s.

 

#130

daiga-ellaby-354478
daiga ellaby (unsplash)

 

feather-light
a fire burns bright
inside young hearts
bold with justice

walking, marching
unto the land of affordable milk
good schools, healthy children
free bodies
and enough bees to make our honey.

~
s.

#129

freddie-marriage-264214
freddie marriage (unsplash)

 

it’s a tricky business
writing
filling out blank pages
but that’s it, isn’t it?

at one point, the page is no longer a page
at one point, the page is like a bottle needing filling

with your words, your thoughts
your imagination
your meaning.

so pick those grapes, make that wine
pour out the dark liquid of your heart and mind
and make your own vintage.

~
s.

#128

igor-ovsyannykov-223082
igor ovsyannykov (unsplash)

 

ritual:

listening to the soothing voice
at peace with life
speaking words that are wise

closing my eyes
and trying to follow each conclusion
like a novice a master
of the fine art of look and see

after all: there is no try
apparently, there’s just me.

~
s.

#127

clark-young-160446
clark young (unsplash)

 

cold weather makes us huddle closer
at the desk

where sharp sentences appear
icily clear

invisible pens scratching
on pixel-white paper

while teas are brewed, coffees creamed
and a playlist hums away, in-ear.

~

s.

#126

paul-369639
paul (unsplash)

 

the kitchen sink
is no longer where drama lives

the kitchen sink
is part of home again
where we eat and drink
and show each other:
this, and this, and this
all this

is me.
what you see of me.
me, framed
in domestic bliss.

*

home has become so different.
there’s home-home and home, to go.

home-home: lived-in and human
wet towels, used cups, cooking
home, to go: pristine surfaces, great lighting
with a bit of “local colour”

to put on the makeup
open app, decide
click yes/no
pack your bags

and have a passport that opens doors.

~
s.

#125

cullan-smith-482764
cullan smith (unsplash)

 

Twice now, we see
Thrice now, we move and try to be

a you, a me.

And then the walls came tumbling down.

In all this chaos, order may rise again
phoenix-like
only it will never look the same
like back then
like it used to be

And that is a very good thing.
~
s.

You say tomato…

image

Ask a silly question
Part II

 

Click here for Part I

 

Knowing Things vs Feeling Safe

Science is all about the human objective of [MaSe]: Making Sense of Things. The second objective is attached to the first: once we make sense of things, hopefully we’ll feel safe [Sf]. Science is not always very forthcoming in the second objective. Actually, it can go directly against it (see everyone who enabled ABC weapons). Mostly because [MaSe] does not necessarily mean [Sf] will happen.

Knowing a lot of things does not mean you will automatically feel safe. Feeling safe doesn’t automatically mean you know a lot of things. The two are correlated, yet the followers of science more often treat them as directly connected via causation. That, of course, is a problem.

The consensus is:

It makes no sense to argue with facts, let alone numbers. What is the case, is the case.

That, however, has little to do with actually feeling safe. And in that simple gap between the

》desire for knowledge《 and the 》need for safety《

ignorance can breed and spred its toxicity. Because the tricky thing with [Sf] is that it has so many disparate components:

• feeling physically safe [Sfp]
• feeling emotionally safe [Sfe]
• feeling existentially safe (i.e. what happens after I/my loved one/my enemy/the cat dies?) [Sfx]

Sf={Sfp; Sfe; Sfx}

and they can be, but need not be, interdependent. They are, depending on the human, contingent to each other. Or not. And, since humans are as complicated creatures, it’s the same for Making Sense of Things [MaSe] and Having a GoodTime [HaGT]:

 

MaSe={MaSep; MaSee;MaSex}
HaGT={HaGTp; HaGTe;HaGTx}</p
 

Ontop of all that, they can can be all mixed up, making an individual’s Religion (R) a custom-made mix-and-mingle of all three objectives, for example

 

R={MaSex, Sfe, HaGTp}
or
R={MaSee, Sfp, HaGTe}
or
R={MaSep, Sfx, HaGTx}

with all other combinations possible, next to an infinite gradiation of what humans understand as “physically”, “emotionally”, and “existentially”.

This creates an infinity of permutations. Miraculously, religions are adept enough to be versatile in this matter. Hence the possibility of one family having hardliners and “lapsed” believers, almost-agnostics and part-time atheists. Extrapolate that onto a whole community, and that onto an entire society and culture, and the permutations are an endless matrix, almost like an organism that’s constantly moving and developing in all kinds of ways, regression and progression being just two coordinates to navigate by.

Here’s the thing: Religions, especially religious practice in all its myriad forms, can accomodate almost any permutation within the limits of their main narrative, as long as the person of faith follows the rules – though what that means in reallife is always and forever up for debate, complicating the permutations even more.

 
image

 

The Marinara Crisis

So, how does ignorance sneak in? I would say in the gaps between the permutations. If we take our tomato knowledge-cell from before with its respective social and cultural biochemistry, someone who only knows savory tomato dishes might be appalled by sweet tomatoes in a fruitsalad – a fruitsalad they might call “heathen”, “ungodly” or “unorthodox”. A person who was raised only on sweet tomatoes in fruitsalads might call people who prefer the savory tomatoes “uncivilised barbarians”, “sectarians” or “depraved”. It all depends on the individual and the group. Now, in a group of savory tomato eaters, a sweet tomato eater might be considered “blasphemous”. How the group deals with the sweet tomato eater depends on how much of the tomato knowledge-cell they are

1: aware of
and
2: how much of that awareness they are willing to acknowledge as legitimate.

If, say, sweet tomato fruitsalads were traditionally considered “heresy”, but those were in The Olden Days and now sweet tomato fruitsalads are quite the rage during fancy dinners, then the ignorance cancer has been successfully fought back into remission.

However, some old-fashioned households might consider sweet tomato fruitsalads “debauched”, and some parents might wallop their kids for trying some on the sly, and thus metastasis can be detected. Whether it becomes a full blown health emergency depends on so many matters it would be difficult to count them, but it would be possible.

The problem is the initial outbreak in The Olden Days of “heresy” where the ignorance cancer raged through the body politic. Whole sweet tomato stalks got torched, and there were culinary inquisitions. It was a bad time to be a chef. Thus the noxious cells linger in the body politic, yet need not be triggered to metastise and might even die off completely.

Or they could flip over and become a completely different toxic creature in the form of Anti-Marinara Laws due to a dispute over the sweet/savory tomato percentages. It got ridiculous, fights kept on breaking out in pizzerias, so the sweet/savory marinara were banned, which lead hardliners to ban all marinaras completely and suddenly bolognese was suspicious and bruschetta considered “unorthodox”. Before long there was a full-scale tomato embargo across the board. No pizzas or pasta whatsoever so people didn’t get tempted, draconian fines on bruschetta as well as any type of cold dish with tomatoes in it, while a pint of tomato juice ran a high price on the black market.

Now, one might say, “That’s not ignorance, that’s idiotic!” But that’s the thing with ignorance. It leads to all kinds of dangerous idiocy. And suddenly, in a world full of pizzerias and pizza-lovers – who doesn’t love pizza, right? – you’re suddenly no longer allowed to eat pizza. And it all started with a ridiculous argument between a bunch of people who disagreed on what kind of tomatoes were the “right” kind.

You say tomato, I say hand me another slice.

 
image

~
Know yourself.
s.

ask a silly question…

image

Part I

There’s a question that always pops up at one point in a department:
Why religion?
Don’t scoff, it’s a serious question.
Why do people genuinely believe in something so bafflingly illogical to the scientific mind? Why even bother? It makes no sense! (And, as many will add, it’s dangerous to boot).

The initial question is the crux: it’s too imprecise. Specification is, as always, a major help.

So, first:

Q: What do religions do? Answer as neutrally as possible.
A: They give a story, a narrative of existence.
Q: What for?
A: To help humans make sense of things and feel safe, apparently.

So, if we recalibrate the question to, say, “Why does anyone need a way to explain the world to them, a way that makes sense and makes them feel safe?” the question becomes far more interesting.

Humans like to make sense of things and humans like to feel safe. Those are very natural impulses, they’re probably the natural state of human being – next to wanting to have a good time. Now, religions (not just theology: active religious practice) apparently explain human existence in a way that makes sense of things to a certain vital extent, and allows for simple ways to feel safe, namely: follow the rules.

In this construct, with R (Religion), we have: Makes Sense (MaSe), Safety (Sf) and Have a Good time (HaGT):

R= {MaSe, Sf; HaGT}

since MaSe and Sf don’t necessarily lead to HaGT and vice versa.

Within R, if something unsafe or baffling happens, or if you’re not having a good time, it’s probably because you didn’t follow the rules/commands (Com) Or it was divinely ordained (DO) with seemingly Random (Ra) components:

DO={R, -R, Com, -Com; Ra}

which means it was inevitable anyway and so there’s no point in complaining.

Lived religion, i.e. religious practice, to many, makes the world safe, existentially safe. Safe here should be understood as expressly non-chaotic, with a particular, comprehensible order where rules can be followed. Safe should not be scaled down narrowly to physical safety alone (though it’s the layers of safety that make it so tricky, but to that later).

Humans generally understand themselves to be far more than biochemically active carbon-based life forms. Religious practice, however, does take biochemistry into account, in as much as it makes sense – speak, gives comprehensible order – to what’s happening, both inside the individual human and group of humans, as well as outside individual and group of humans. Suddenly, Chaos (C) is given Order (O), and thus the individual and/or group attains two of the three human objectives: things make sense [MaSe], and when things make sense there is a sense of safety [Sf], in as much as the individual and/or group has an idea of what to do next, which ten times out of ten has to do with Having a Good Time [HaGT].

 

Ignorance

But, what about ignorance, one cries?
Especially the ignorance religious practice very often fosters? It’s what makes R so dangerous, since its statutes are contingent to interpretation and so can be either highly liberating or extremely confining, if not outright lethal for groups and individuals alike.

A postulation first:
Ignorance is the petri-dish of fear.
Ignorance breeds fear like a super-virus.
Worse still, ignorance is like a cancer. It can be vicious, it can be benign. It can be inoperable, it can be lethal, it can be something that hides in the dark for years before breaking out suddenly and destroying everything in the space of weeks. Ignorance is, for the lack of a better word, the enemy. Ignorance is as ingenious as cancer, since it comes in every single type of human. There are similarities in ignorances, but ever type is its own brand of horrible, and that is why it is a continuous battle to keep it from metastasing.

Q: What is ignorance then? Is it not-knowing-things? Is it simply the opposite of actual knowledge? Given that highly knowledgeable individuals and groups can also be incredibly ignorant, I would say: No. – What is it then?

As in science, one of the best ways to understand what makes something end is to see how it begins in the first place. For example: How exactly do cells work? The cancer-analogy works well here, since, like cells gone haywire, ignorance is knowledge that should be helpful gone haywire, now uncontrolled and destructive.
Think half-truths, outright lies, biases, skewed reporting, or, probably the worst of all: blind spots. Blind spots are especially bad since, with them, the apparent knowledge is considered complete and very useful, and is used as such, but it is actually tragically incomplete and often useless. This leads to all kinds of disasters, usually “and the walls came tumbling down”, figuratively as well as not. Which is what makes ignorance so dangerous: it hijacks what should be benign and utilises it for something that can be uncompromisingly lethal, upending all internal and external health and harmony in its wake.

Like cells, knowledge in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s very useful, even necessary, to keep the organism healthy and alive. Knowledge is the substance of our lives, yet it is not simply knowing things. A cell isn’t only its nucleus. Knowledge isn’t simply information. Just like a cell is a kind if nano-engine, knowledge is dynamic, alive.
Think of the tomato: it’s a fruit you don’t put in a fruitsalad, though there are rare fruitsalads with sweet tomatoes in them. Tomatoes are usually sold as vegetables and used in savory dishes. That is part of the ‘knowledge-cell’ of ‘tomato, n.’ since the facts are just the nucleus. The whole cell and its biochemistry would be social and cultural norms surrounding the tomato and why, for example, people disproportionately drink tomato juice on airplanes. Since the knowledge-cell is dynamic, alive, these norms develope and change over time.

The tomato knowledge-cell is complex, and that’s just the tomato. The potato is a whole different kettle of fish. – Now imagine such a knowledge-cell metastasing, as in suddenly ‘tomato’ knowledge means ‘tomato’ is a fruit for fruitsalads and only fruitsalads. No savory dishes, no tomato juice, no pizza. Just fruitsalads. Anyone who tries anything different faces scorn if not legal consequences, since there are high fines for bruschetta and making Bloody Maries gets you 10 days on bail. Already buying pureed tomatoes for a Bloody Mary will get you fined since that is considered “tomato misuse”. Such metastasis would skew the entire tomato knowledge-cell biochemistry, i.e. what the tomato “does”/is used for socially and culturally. It inevitably would upend healthy and harmonious interaction of the people in that society and culture. Just imagine no pizza. No salsa. No guacamole either, since they all come under “suspicious tomato usage”. It would get crazy pretty quickly.
Calibrated onto a society as a whole and that, I would say, is how ignorance works.

 

Asking silly questions

Speaking of cells, a cell can be a very complex thing, and there are a plethora of cell types and forms. And there aren’t just human body cells either. Animal, vegetable, there are all sorts. And then there are the, lets call them, object-cells, though some will dislike the term, but bear with me: stones, water, soils, the skies, everything we consider “not-exactly-alive”, physical and chemical connections which react with each other in all kinds of interesting ways, since Hydrogen and Oxygen seem to get everywhere with their friend Carbon.
H20, O2, CO2.
Water, Oxygen, Carbon dioxide (the stuff trees soak up and split up via photosynthesis so that they get their glucose, thereby releasing the nifty by-product O2, the stuff we humans need to breathe aka live… which is why “lets not murder all our trees” is really a good thing…).

In general the three, in their natural balance, are vital for everything that lives and moves on this home of ours, our planet. The triumvirate gets places, the trinity likes to pair up with everybody. And they especially like each other. Think Carbohydrates, where all three get together and have a party, e.g. C6H12O6. Carbohydrates come in all kinds of shapes and forms, so to get a hang of the many forms, people who took their time to check on these forms (we tend to call them chemists, biochemists and biologists – or lab rats ;-)) found out that the ratio of Hydrogen and Oxygen in relation to Carbon is like the one in water, namely 2:1. So, for ‘carbs’ it’s

Cn(H2O)n

Cn is the number of Carbon
(H2O)n is how many Hydrogen and Oxygen (in ratio 2:1) are needed together with the Carbon for Carbohydrates to happen.

Start with religion and suddenly it’s Intro to Chemistry. Which is no surprise really because, fundamentally, science takes religion seriously.

What?
I’ll say it again: science takes religion seriously.
Why would I say that?
Because science says: “Ok. Let’s see.”

You say, “There is a God.” Ok. Let’s check.
Et voilà, René Descartes, sitting in his chair by the fire, trying to prove it. Philosophy. And who did he keep in referencing? Some old Christians, some Arabic scholars and a few Ancient Greeks. Ok, let’s check them, what did they say? More questions and thus are made Philosophy departments. And Translators.

You say, “God created Life.”
God is still a problem to be solved (see Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, etc. Berkeley, too, if you’re interested), but the storytellers, poets, musicians and artists may be onto something: they keep on making things that feel so powerful and otherworldly, that move individuals, great and small, even whole peoples and nations to do spectacular or heinous things… A song, a poem, a picture, a speech can unify and divide humans in incredible ways, it’s like magic. Maybe we should check what’s going on there, that’s entirely too powerful for simple ink on paper and sound. How do they do it? Is it possibly… (whispers) divine? Sssh! Call it ‘genius’ or ‘sublime’ or the Philosophers’ll turn up and start asking questions. You know how they get. And thus are made Literature, Music, and the Arts, with all their inquisitive departments.

And while they’re sorting out the God problem and the strange magic, possibly-divine-but-we’ll-never-admit-it problem, let’s look at Life. Problem is, we can’t trust our eyes, our ears – actually, our whole bodies are basically lying to us 24/7 (and, turns out, we can’t trust our minds either – enter Psychology), so let’s stick to numbers.
2 is 2 is 2.
2 doesn’t suddenly become 2.3799 because it was Tuesday and hadn’t had its coffee yet.
2 is 2 is 2.
Then again, what about Pi…? And thus Mathematics went off the deep end.

So, from figuring out zero in a desert to counting heartbeats while sitting in a church, numbers have the benefit of being accurate. Thus the world we live in can be measured, weighed and mapped out (Physics and subsidieries), though don’t go tell that to the Philosophers, they’ll make you feel disturbed. They’ll start about noumena, phenomena, brains-in-vats and swamp-men and you’ll come out of that counting your keys to be sure you’re not seeing things…
Why? Because our senses are still unreliable. So, how about we make better eyes, far bigger ones (telescopes) and far smaller ones (microscopes), lets get better ears (microphones), better noses, better taste, better touch – all calibrated to our own senses, mind, not to a cat’s or an octopuses or anything like that – and see what we’ve got. Thus apples fall from trees, people leave petri dishes in warm places, amd someone figures out what those tiny wiggly things in clear water really mean. More of that and suddenly smallpox is gone, we have airplanes and there’s this incredible thing called the pill.*Et voilà: Natural Science.

Science takes religion very seriously. Like a child taking its parents by their word, science is the kid who insists, “But you said…!” which is probably why science annoys relgions so much. Science takes religion seriously. It’s the kid that nods, “Ok,” and then asks, “Why?”

 

Part II to follow.

~
Know yourself.
s

 

*Humans have created a lot of pills but this one was such a quantum leap in human relations it’s just called The Pill. And everybody knows what it is. Take that for significance.