Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fear of Fog

This blurb is for a new book getting some press from Oxford University Press:

Few deny the sheer significance of religious belief to human society, a topic of study that has provided much insight into how we lived previously, how we live today, and how we will live in the future. However, for what purpose, exactly, did religion originate? Is religious belief just an accidental outcome of human civilization? Or does it affect people’s behavior in a way that is evolutionarily advantageous? We spoke with Dominic Johnson, author of God is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human, who suggests science and religion, two spheres thought to be in perpetual conflict, actually evolved together for mutual human benefit.....

There must be something original in the review, the book, though maybe not much. I have no intention of pursuing the book. And this is because it seems so to conform with contemporary binary thought.

But typing in a caption for my post, I typed in "Fear of Fog". I meant to spell "Fear of God".  By some quirky QWERTY typo, I hit on an answer, to modern dyspepsia. What the Greeks call metataxis, the "in between", is what is unbearable to binary thought. This logical possibility  gave us all civilized convenience and comfort. This is what Jan Cox meant when he pointed to the fact binary thought allows people to chop up the external world and rearrange it.  Rearrange and invent air conditioning, and the like.

Why the binary mind cannot abide the reality of metaxis, that in between where perhaps most of reality is, is not clear. Perhaps binary thought would not work, or so well, if you point to all it cannot cover, that which cannot be neatly divided into two. Perhaps other forces, currents are behind the apparent incompatibility. How binary thinking got this imperial thirst suggests larger issues I probably don't imagine. 

Jan Cox did not use the word "metaxis" in my presence.  We are here, like in all of the posts in this blog,  exemplifying a method of his -- to think freshly, not what others have done cerebrallly. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The real and what's else

Metaphysics is like poetry. As Michael Hamburger (I think he's the one) said of poetry,

It's a mug's game.

It is all imaginary, which does not mean  what people might imagine: it is just the words have to be made up. The terrain is not consumed completely by the words.

So if you can play the game, or finally learn to, play that game

You can win real money.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Is the pervasive persuasive

IF it is the case that the appeal of ghost stories, the interest in the macabre and spooky, derives from, reflects,  the biological realites that everything interpenetrates and is interpenetrated, that would explain the generalized interest -- the appeal of the appalling.

However, that phenomenon, the appeal of scarry stuff, may also reflect humanity's awareness of a castrated god. Which is to say they have not digested the logical consequences of man's binary constructions and the lingering sense of inadequacy of the modern conception that you can just lop off the transcendent and pretend that solves a problem,  makes them uneasy.

Now I cannot think of a third explanation, but it will come to me. Nothing is really explained without three perfectly good sketches. Minimum of three. Sorry Occam.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Another dear story about the origins of life (underwater thermal vents) and, unwittingly, the necessity of binary thought.

Worth the price of your expended attention: the word "serpentinization." As in: 

"Such vents are sources of molecular hydrogen, a side-product of a natural geological process called serpentinization...."

Naturally one wants to know, how that label arose, and did the namer have any sense of the irony of an allusion to the Biblical serpent. Perhaps it is obvious they must have, and I am obtuse.

Also this phrase regarding a possible cometary delivery of pre-biotic chemicals to earth:

" material is thought to have been made available to the primitive Earth each year, of which the dominant source is so-called ‘exogenous delivery’ by comets. ..."

"Exogenous." As an explanation can only be potent if your attention is limited to TWO, and two only, options. Either life developed on the planet originally, or--- it came from somewhere else.

If however you can step back cerebrally, and look for a broader perspective, you can ask--- is saying life came via a comet (okay, the building blocks of life) any explanation at all, or does it not just push the question of origins behind a curtain where it does not effectively even 'exist,' since you do not have to think about it. That is the blinding effect of binary thought. In this case the question of origins. If you continue to question the circumstances of these 'origins' and push the questions back, then the usefulness and limitations of binary thought, may become apparent.

It COULD have happened...this way

Say, of the billions and billions of planets which don't exist, there is one where the population has been allowed to use the idea of god, without having any clue as to what that label might mean. And it was here, amidst the atmospheres of supposition and the interstellar currents of the indeterminate, that the cleat prints of evolution reached a certain stage. An accelerated comprehension of a sphere called "the external world" was desirable: For reasons one can only guess at--- say it was USEFUL that some species could spread to other planets via some gravel path. This required a focus for centuries on that external sphere, even though this meant distorting other layers of growth, on a temporary basis. Attention to that which was parsible, superficially divisible, and thus rearrangeable, was forced upon this particular globe. And for reasons of efficiency this became the main focus of the energy produced on this one globe. By focus we mean that the particles at the leading edge of this push became rigid, and inflexible. Rigid means they could not consider the broader context of anything. Like moles underground these particles must just keep pushing and rearranging their tunnel surroundings.

After all it was only a temporary stage; what could be briefer than a few centuries. Those won't even be missed by the inhabitants there. Soon the era of the natural scientists will be back in proper perspective as a partialness.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Novelty can alter your genes

This report on current research was exciting. Jan Cox based his 20th century work school on the necessity for the new. He did mention also, that you could not alter your genetic makeup. In this context I found the article excerpted below, interesting.

From an article in the OUP blog

Experiments with rodents indicate that normal cognitive processes can also initiate epigenetic events. For instance, when we encounter novelty in the world, we register it with structural changes in our brains, changes that require epigenetically controlled protein production. Storing information in long-term memory also appears to utilize epigenetic mechanisms. Thus, the way we think is affected by epigenetics, just as epigenetic factors affect the way we feel when we find ourselves in stress-inducing situations....

Some things not addressed by the writer:

Surely if you talk about change you must address what does not change. How else measure change? And also --- if you do not understand the question, how can you answer it. These are just thoughts this essay brought to mind.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Is there a Nobel for taxidermy

It was interesting to notice  there is no verb for doing taxidermy, none using that word. And that is appropriate because by 'taxidermy' we mean to emphasize the product of man's mechanical mental effort -- words. We tend to think that words allow us to explicate and illuminate our world. Yet Jan Cox described words as never hitting their mark because by the time you spoke any word or phrase, the world you were responding to, was already, changed. And certainly any verbal phrase that is out of date, even by microseconds, is a clunky something, and not a verbal lunge. The spoken word can even be thought of as a stuffed something, once vivid, now vacant, a furry creature frozen in critical form. Forever, beside the point, Furnishing a diorama of dynamism in a museum of human perspective.