Life.

sun

Friedrich Nietzsche, The gay science

Book one – 26

What is life? Life-that is: continually shedding something that wants to die. Life-that is: being cruel and inexorable against everything about us that is growing old and weak-and not only about us. Life-that is, then: being without reverence for those who are dying, who are wretched, who are ancient? Constantly being a murderer? -And yet old Moses said: “Thou shalt not kill.”

Life for us human beings starts somewhere around the time we start to remember.

According to the Wiki page life is defined as: Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate.

As far as we know we humans are the only beings that know that they are alive apposed to dead. We sing about it, write poems praising it and can have long conversations about it. Life for me is our capability to remember and think about these memories. Do you really live if you don’t know what happened a minute ago or don’t know who you are looking in the mirror, would life not be a mere stream of impressions that disappear if you cannot appreciate them afterwards?

So, life for me starts somewhere around the time you start to remember. Maybe somewhere around your second birthday you have some continues moments, I’m no expert in these things. I get some flashes of old memories when I see old pictures, but it can be flashbacks from earlier times when I have seen these same pictures, hard to tell, but I have memories from my youth and you only have to ask my mother how much of life I questioned.

Memories are necessary for life, but memories are also unreliable, memories die on you constantly. Memories deceive you, lure you away from your path. Memories are like our lives as they are life.

Day 886, communication.

Day 886-1

 

Delicate armor

layered to embrace a flower

to spring in autumn.

 


Definition of communication: The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. (Oxford dictionary)

If I ask for a sandwich with cheese to a person who speaks English and knows what bread and cheese is, they can probably make me that sandwich. In this case we had good communication and in these kinds of cases it’s no problem of talking about communication.  If one of them doesn’t speak English we might still have communication in a formal way but it’s far from successful if the sandwich with cheese never appears.

Wikipedia defines communication better than the Oxford dictionary I think: Communication is the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules.

The part “mutually understood signs and semiotic rules.” Is important in my opinion. Can you communicate about the taste of red wine with someone who only tasted water before? How do you convey the different taste sensation in wine to someone that cannot recollect does tastes and experiences? If you never tasted bitter, how can someone explain that to you. If I start talking about lice there is a chance you start scratching your head even if you never had them, it’s just that you know that they are itchy from hearsay. If you never heard of lice you would not have that same itchy sensation.

A lack of experience can hamper in clear communication. A daughter explains how a computer works to her Grandfather is like seeing two people talking different languages, can you talk of communication in such a case? A Syrian refugee talking about war to a westerner in a safe place, is that communication?  Black people feeling unsafe, woman on the work floor a veteran after the war. Maybe we al fit in our own unique little box of circumstances that prevents us from real communication with each other.

Communication doesn’t stop when the words leave your mouth, or the letter is sent.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. George Bernard Shaw

 

 

Day 884, free will.

Day 884-1

Wondering alone

starlight brightens the shadows

stirred in my mind.

 


Free will.

Why do we feel free, unbounded when we make choices? What is it that moves our arm if we want to pick something up? Is it a soul or matter that gives us our identity? This is what we call the mind–body problem and it is still not satisfactory resolved.

Most people in this world believe that we have a soul and that the soul is you and makes the decisions separated from the physical body. The problem with a nonphysical soul is the way it interacts with our physical body, so it(you) can control what you do like making you walk and let you pick up things.  Many philosophers have sought for solutions and others tried to find for a physical place in our body where the soul makes contact with our body, without success.

I am not in a position to disqualify the idea that we have a soul but the chance that we have one is minute if you look at all the knowledge we have now. The consensus between a wide variety of scientist is that our identity originates in the brain and disappears when we die.  What chemicals, hormones and fluids are involved is now topic for debate between scientist but the rest of the world ignores this problem or dismisses it.

But imagine what it means for the world if we all believe that its over when we die, and religion is something you study in the history books.

Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are conditioned. Their idea of freedom, therefore, is simply their ignorance of any cause for their actions. As for their saying that human actions depend on the will, this is a mere phrase without any idea to correspond thereto.

Men believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.

Baruch Spinoza

Day 883, words.

Day 883-1

I spread my fingers

trying to touch entirety

its hidden rhythm.


What do you think if you never heard words? If you have a languish can you than imagine what it is to think without the words that form your thoughts? If I think of a boat does my mind than take a picture of a boat from the folder labeled boats? How do you ask someone without language to think about a boat?

These questions bother me sometimes because it’s difficult to imagine it let alone answer them. But you can ask yourself also the (almost) opposite, do we use languish in our day to day thinking? Maybe the words we use, and think are only the top of the iceberg, a sugary coating to make it pretty. I can never recall why I got up to make some coffee. Did something in me say the words “make coffee” to…me…to who? Maybe our thoughts are formed by habits (the coffee), chemicals in our brain, hormones and functions like our hard and intestines do, independent from us.

Words are the afterthought.

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpler. Friedrich Nietzsche

Day 882, pointless.

Day 882-1

Attract and reject

Echoing eternal needs

detested and blessed.

 


I am not a philosopher in the sense that I can quote famous philosophers or understand all the different chapters from the history of philosophy. I might have some insights, but I have no story to tell or a system to unfold. I have my preferences and I can get aroused by a good book but that’s about it.

I have many thick books on my bookshelf, I bought these books because I’m interested in them but also as an investment. I knew that I was not ready for these books with condensed thoughts in them. The people that wrote these books where good at their job and I can admire them for that. These books helped change the world but…how much? Did they?

Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them. Aristotle

This quote is more than 2000 years old and for me it says something about how you should treat other people and go through life opposed to living for material wealth and appearances.

I think that a lot of people could agree with this, but the reality is that the clear majority can’t or won’t live according to this suggestion of Aristotle. We westerners see goods, likes and freedom as ”honor” badges we wear, in religious minded people wearing a book, following the rules and prey is there badge as a sign of there piety. With these badges some people think they deserve praise, but they are often pined on an empty shell.

Aristotle told these words thousands of years ago, and around that time you could find, in countless different cultures, similar sentiments. He told these words and since then countless learned people have read these old works and refined them, and refined them but with what result?

We might not kill our neighbor, or raid the village next door as in the olden day’s but at the same time we praise our global economy and borderless internet, is our willingness to let thousands of children starve in poor countries not the same as letting your neighbor starve 2000 years ago? Did Aristotle let his neighbor die?

We wear our badges of material goods and pious behavior and think where good, but should we not throw these symbols away and act like the world is one small neighborhood? This is what (some/in general) philosophers are trying to tell but the massage is not understood. You might say that this has made all of philosophy pointless, but I hope that it is a fundament for future generations to finally find a way to tell the story that the ancient thinkers started in a languish that is understood by all.

What do you think?

Day 881, Imagine.

Day 881-1

 

 

Morning light true haze

the cold soil warms up again

harsh lights take over.

 

 


I am reading a book by Laura Secor, Children of paradise. I haven’t finished it yet but it’s about Iran and tells the story of different scholars, writers and poets and their connection with the Iranian revolution.

I knew already that Iran was a country with a long and rich history but if you had asked me last year how to describe Iran and its people than an image of Khomeini as an imposing person pops up in my mind that I saw every now an than growing up in the eighties. Modern Iran is for me a county where a lot of people want to live free and a modern life but can’t because of overbearing religious rulers.

After reading a book from Ray Takeyh, Guardians of the revolution I read the book mentioned above and Slowly the vail of ignorance begins to withdraw, but its still there. I will keep on reading because its an interesting story.

The thing that struck me earlier today while reading the book of Laura Secor was how active the people she described where in developing there understanding of the world they live in. I would die (they did sometimes) for some good conversation about philosophy, Popper, Heidegger, Marxism or determinism like they had. I live in a world where revolution is just a word, and no one feels the need to dive into these subjects beside some scholars.

Off coarse I wouldn’t like to live in a country in turmoil like Iran in the eighties. But from my perspective I sometimes feel like I live in a world where all life is drained out, where the dumbest person can become president and most people care more about likes and memes than honest reflection.

Philosophy and religion have never worked Serious and self-proclaimed important people might pretend it is important and it works but without our technology we would not be distinguishable from a person living in Rome 2000 years ago. Without our cushy lives we would still be barbarians, our own grandparents where that literally when the slaughtered each other in two world wars and if you look to close at what we do now in the west your stomach will turn to.

That’s why I like the idea of a society in discourse over the course of there future. And I know that even in Iran it was just a relatively small group of people that actually participated in these discussion, and it let to nothing but just the idea of people sensibly talking about the fundamentals of our society… imagine.

 

Day 880, climate chance.

Day 880-1

A barer of life

broke at the end of summer

gathering some rain.

 


Taking away the mystery of understanding.

David Hume wrote in his famous book “an enquiry concerning human understanding” that the things we think about are made of the things we have seen earlier. Like the golden mountain we can imagine, it’s made of the gold and a mountain we have seen before. The book goes mush deeper than this and is recognized as an important book in the world of philosophy. I don’t do it justice by highlighting this particular idea and taking it out of its context, but still I do.

Have you ever thought about where your thoughts come from? Do they just appear? Does something in you make those thoughts out of nothing? Where were your thought that you have now when you were 5 years old? Do we collect the parts of our thoughts over time? Are we just combining bits and pieces, things we gathered, into our thoughts?

I think it is difficult to be an original thinker. No matter what we do we have to use the things we learned to form our own thoughts and only the exceptional person can combine the things he or she has learned into something truly original. It is not for nothing that thinkers like Plato or Aristoteles are still studied. They had drawn such profound conclusions from their experiences that hardly anybody since has come close to them.

If I look around in the bookstore or at social media, it seems that everybody has an opinion and often put it on the same level as …someone that has made it its life work. Climate chance springs to mind as an obvious example where so many people seem to now the answer where even the experts struggle and work hard to understand it and find an answer. As if they, the opinionated modern man, know the answer without the experience necessary.

We can not imagine a golden mountain without seeing a mountain and gold beforehand, the opinionated modern man can dismiss climate change without ever study biogeochemical cycles, ecological and agroecological systems, human-environment interactions. Do does people question there dentist or car mechanic with the same certainty?

Its humility we need, I don’t know anything about climate change so I trust the people that do just like I listen to my doctor or trust Hume more than myself if he talks about our mind.

What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call ‘thought’.
David Hume

Day 879, Dasein.

Day 879-1

Wall of thoughts in front

echoing sentences fall

frightened I look up.

 

Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher (1889-1976), introduced the concept of “geworfenheit” or often translated as thrownness. It’s the idea that we as human beings are thrown into this life in certain circumstances out of our control like family ties and social conventions.

This idea is related with another concept of Heidegger, “dasein”, most common translated as existence. Dasein is the human experience of being (there) and the specific human experience of understanding our mortality and our personality.

Dasein or existence has been used by other philosophers, but Heidegger had a particular meaning which is hard to understand and demands some study of his work.  Reading philosophy and learning about our human experience is not a priority for most people but I can recommend it because an unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates).

Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr Nichts? Das ist die Frage.

(Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? That is the question.)

Day 878, spoon.

Day 878-1

New life sprouts and sees

 a vast maze and little sun

a view looking back.

 

 

What is it that defines us?

Or, what is “us”? Are we not all formed by our surrounding? Is it not our parents, school, city and country that forms us? Don’t we speak the language of our neighbors and follow their customs?

Or would you be the same person if you were born in a different time and place? Is their a soul that contains our personality?

I ask these questions because I hear people often claim that their way of doing things is the best way and sometimes even that it is the only way. How can you claim that your way is the right way if it is spoon-fed to you? Can they not imagine that the other side has contradicting ideas because they are raised in a world where their ideas where spoon-fed to them and thus prevalent?

My conclusion for now is that it is hard for us human beings to live in constant doubt about our own identity where we constantly ask ourselfs if our opinion is given to us or is somehow original.

The world is ruled by people that claim that they know, but we all know that they don’t. Is humankind still in its adolescent face?

Twilight of the Idols

By Friedrich Nietzsche.

The four big mistakes.

8. What alone can be our doctrine? – Because no one gives man his qualities, neither God, nor society, nor his parents and ancestors, nor he himself (- the absurdity of this last idea has been rejected as “intelligible freedom” by Kant, perhaps even taught by Plato). No one is responsible for ensuring that he’s there, so and so constituted that he is that he is under these circumstances in this  environment. The fatality of his nature is not disentangled from the fatality of all that was and what will be. It is not the result of an intention, a will, a purpose, not with him, an attempt is made to achieve an “ideal of man” or an “ideal of happiness” or an “ideal of morality,” – it is absurd his Being (Sein) in any way trying to pass a purpose. We have used the term “purpose” invented in the real world… lack of purpose it is necessary, it is a piece of calamity, one belongs to the whole, it is on the whole, – there is nothing that addressed our being, measure, compare, could condemn, because that would mean the whole set, measure, condemn, compare… But there is nothing out of the whole! – That will make no one more responsible, that the nature of existence can not be attributed primarily to a cause, that the world is neither as sensorium nor as ‘spirit’ is a unity, this is only the great liberation – thus only the innocence of becoming (Unschuld des Werdens) restored… The term “God” has been the greatest objection to existence (Dasein)… We deny God, we deny the responsibility in God: we only deliver to the world. – (Wir leugnen Gott, wir leugnen die Verantwortlichkeit in Gott: damit erst erlösen wir die Welt).

Twilight of the idols, Translation by Daniel Fidel Ferrer, 2013