Quoth the Raven…

Posted on December 7, 2017. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Poe’s raven speaks to my present-day state of angst…

  • I was born without any knowledge of the time that preceded me.
  • I have lived without knowing whether the existence I perceive even exists.
  • I will die in total ignorance of whether there is more beyond this physical existence.

If the grandchildren of Adam and Eve did not tell their own children about their great-grandparents, Adam and Eve would have passed into the Mists of Time purposeless. Those great-grandchildren would have opened their eyes in ignorance of the past, and would have gone on to know that they would eventually die. All that they would attain in life would be only an exercise in futility. Wherein could they find purpose to existence?

None of us really knows anything about a purpose to this existence. Yet, we are keenly aware that this is a self-recycling existence and that whatever we are, or think we are, will be ground into dust to be reused in another existence that does not include us. We persist, though, in active consideration and pursuit of what we do not know. We find answers to this physical universe’s operation, but we don’t know if they are correct answers since we cannot see the whole of the universe.  We think we find purpose in the things we do daily in response to physical needs and social obligations. But, when you die and leave to this world all your possessions, achievements, and creations, you will be little more than a curious name to your great-grandchildren; what, then, was the purpose to your tiny blip of existence?

There are many who will immediately jump on that “I will die in ignorance of an afterlife,” and espouse many reasons – according to their beliefs – why I cannot disbelieve THEIR beliefs on the subject. They will ignore that I did not state disbelief in an afterlife; they will assume so and take advantage of the moment to loudly aver THEIR faith in THEIR beliefs.

I must point out, there can be no faith unless there is ignorance. By touting faith, one confirms ignorance. It is ignorance that troubles our souls all the days of our lives.

What does our ignorance conceal? Briefly, the future. Our angst over life’s purpose is a dark, foreboding cloud that heightens our fears and spurs our hopes with indistinct, onrushing images that could forebode either blessing or calamity. What will be our destinies, what will be our worth at the end of life’s road? Our fears and concerns are like Poe’s raven tapping just outside our sphere of awareness for entry into our minds.  The one in the poem acquiesced and invited the uncertainty inside. The mysterious, dark raven made itself at home, and its host pulled up a chair and pondered endlessly on why it uttered only that one word.

In like manner, we dote on the Unknown and beseech it for answers. We occupy ourselves linking fancy unto fancy in a vain effort to pry meaning from this ominous, ancient cloud of obscurity. Though it crowds our every moment and hovers darkly over our future, we can only discern one reply to our requests for full disclosure – Never! Nevermore!

We continue as temporal wanderers, trekking an unending trail through a wilderness of ignorance seeking any light from the dark abyss of Tomorrow, while our dark companion, Uncertainty, like Poe’s raven…

,,,still is sitting, still is flitting, upon the pallid bust of Pallas just above Tomorrow’s door.   And, our souls from out its shadow shall be lifted,


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Soul Candy

Posted on April 6, 2016. Filed under: Humor, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I  simply love this place.  While it can be noisy at times, by and large there is usually a quiet corner where I can mellow out, sipping the sweet nectar from my life’s experiences.  Oft’ times, I follow Alice’s lead and pursue the White One down a rabbit hole where I can wonder at new sights, savor unusual concepts, and saunter down brightly lit exotic avenues — even yield to the invitation of a back-alley portico offering a slightly shadier ambiance. (more…)

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What Is Man…

Posted on May 5, 2014. Filed under: Nature, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

…that you should even consider us, or our descendants that you would stay with them through the whole of time?  We are neither Deity nor Angel, yet, you have accorded us your utmost respect,” said the created to its Creator.

NOT A DIRECT QUOTE — like you couldn’t tell.  That is strictly my interpretation; for the original wording, you are directed to whatever language in which the poet wrote, or the King James Version of The Holy Bible (Psalms 8:4) which, itself, is an abridgement of the original, or to any one of about 6 different versions of the original original.  This is my blog, so, for the moment, you are stuck with my interpretation.

Your words for the day:

  • sentient = sensate; the state of being aware of input from the senses
  • self-aware = an entity’s knowledge that it is separate from everything around it
  • Life’s Prime Directive = every living thing shall attempt to bend circumstances and events (natural and behavioral) to further its own narrow interests in the struggle to survive one more day

Generally, religions concede that Man is of the most inconsequential status in comparison to Deity.  Yet, since Deity accords Man consideration, Man boasts that it is extra special and is the pinnacle of all creation.  With that self-anointing, other creatures are deigned to be totally worthless except to be put to work, eaten or converted into shoes.  Deity gives Man the Insignificant the widest latitude of respect, but, that honored piece of Cosmic flotsam cannot spare even a respectful appraisal, let alone decent treatment, of its fellow travelers through this tortured existence that not one living thing has asked for.

Humans (via The Great Learned) long shouted that only they are sentient.  All other creatures are biological automatons living out their meager lifespans in a dance of instinctive rote so that Man the Insignificant can pretend that it is Deity over them.  Only humans, so the mantra goes, had feelings about existence and could introspectively mull just what it all means.  Animals (everything not human) made cries of pain, but, that was just an instinctive reaction designed to help them live longer to serve Man the Insignificant just a little more.  And characterizing their wails and whimpers as evidence of self-pity was simply humanizing mere animal reaction.  Common folk who lived and worked with non-humans recognized and responded to this mutual inter-species communication.  But, the Great Learned, from the massive towers required to house their massively superior intelligences, just shook their heads and said, “Tut, tut” to the poor, less intelligent masses way down below.

Anyway, that was PLAN A.  Research over the past few decades have shown that many of the behavioral and intellectual traits of humans are shared by an awful lot of non-human beings.  The Great Learned has had to concede that many besides humans are, indeed, sentient.  Lest you think, however, that the Great Learned has admitted that the common masses of humanity are as smart, or even smarter, than they, behold…

The New and Improved PLAN B.  Slicing the “self-aware” implication from the term sentient, the Great Learned slapped a coat of paint on it, mounted it on wheels and gave it its own sitcom.  “Sure, other creatures can feel things just as we do, but, only humans can really think deep about it.”  Don’t think I’m making this up as I go:

  • Darwin, The Descent of Man… :  No animal is self-conscious…   on such matters as whence he comes or whither he will go, or what is life and death, and so forth.”
  • Marc Bekoff Ph. D., Psychology Today,  He said a lot, so I will summarize:  Some animals have self-awareness, there are degrees of self-awareness, more of a sense of mine-ness such as my scent, my buddy, my food;  he said just about as much as he could without saying that “animals have an innate sense of self.”  On the surface, it appears that scientists are embracing the new concepts when, in fact, for every inch of the old way they give up, they add 2 inches of hedging.

It has long been my personal conviction that any life form having to make at least one decision to maintain existence is sentient and self-aware, at least for the duration of that decision making.  The scope of that sentience may not be as grandiose as that experienced by Man the Insignificant (who, by the by, is so great that it can predict the end of the whole world in the far, far distant year of 2012), but, that entity must KNOW WHEN to make its single death-avoiding decision.  Doing it right when it is called for is often the factor allowing continued existence.  What is the point to being sensate if one cannot react in a timely and appropriate manner to the incoming information?  Why would one sidestep an imminent danger if one were not aware of a threat to its personal boundaries?

Sentience, like an object in sunlight, casts its own shadow — that of self-awareness.  Simply put, it means that a life-form receives input from its environment and recognizes that it comes from beyond its corporeal boundaries.  In response to Life’s Prime Directive, that informed entity attempts to maintain its distinctive boundary for as long as it can before its physical components succumb to re-absorption by the reality all around.

There is no point to being sentient without self-awareness, nor can there be self-awareness without being sensate.  It neither diminishes nor enhances the fact of my personal existence to hold that even one-celled animals possess self-awareness, at least to the degree that their available sensory input permits.

I am what I am, they are what they are.  No amount of superior intellectual acrobatics will change that.



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Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Posted on August 25, 2013. Filed under: Memories, Philosophy |

My two emissaries to Tomorrow.  Getting them born and getting started in life is without doubt the best thing I have done with my life.  The girl is the little one in the previous post.

My two emissaries to Tomorrow

My two emissaries to Tomorrow

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Do Not Offend Tomorrow

Posted on August 16, 2013. Filed under: Philosophy, sociology | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Twice I got to see my tomorrow.  This is the first one.

Twice I got to see my tomorrow. This is the first one.

Today’s proverb:  As the twig is bent, so grows the tree

Your words for the day:

  • guile = deviousness; cunning; deceit
  • innocent = noun:  one devoid of guile

The reality of the world into which we are born results from the actions of previous generations coping with their own brand of realities.  By “reality,” I refer to the social and environmental conditions into which each is flung.  Neophytes all, that specific reality that cradles our early growth becomes the standard to which we expect our entire lives to adhere…   Talk about a pitcher of ice-water in the face.

Existence is a dynamo pumping out change with every passing instant.  The childhood reality that dresses us for the School of Life is but the first of a long list of nannies destined to take us aside and explain the way Life really is.

Thus the chorus of lamentations resulting from these icy dousings:

  • The end times are near (every generation seems to have a new crop of doom’s day prophets).
  • The world is going to hell in a hand basket.
  • What is the world coming to?
  • Repent!  The end is near…   again.
  • I just don’t know anymore.
  • What is this younger generation thinking?

Not to be outdone, the younger generation, dripping from its first icy baptism, points an accusing finger at that previous generation and says, “Don’t tell ME how to do things; look at the mess YOU’VE made of the world!”

Truth is, the social fabric that defines humankind is a complex weave, and, as populations increase, so does the complexity of that weave.  Life moves toward Tomorrow, and humankind will move with it for better or for worse.  The efforts of any one individual or group to change the overall pattern will be overshadowed by the sheer numbers of strands being woven in simultaneously.  TODAY is the culmination of eons upon eons of Yesterdays, yet, it is merely the single starting point for a still-theoretical Tomorrow.  On and on the march of change continues, in spite of the useless exercises of fist shaking and whines of self-pity.

Statistically speaking, most of us (say…   99.9999 and a whole bunch more 9’s %) will have no appreciable effect on the avalanche of Time’s passage that, at first, carries each of us along, then — and quite matter-of-factly — buries all of us beneath the ruble of Yesterday.  That very same percentage will not even rate a footnote in the pages of history.

All that we can expect to influence are those persons and things that physically surround us, and, we can only do that in the time we are ultimately allotted.  If we are to paint the Wind of Time in colors that scream “Me!  Me!  Me!” we have to work fast.  In spite of what our conscious state tells us, we do NOT have forever.  The wind is a fickle medium anyway.

If yours was not the voice of the horrified announcer at the Hindenburg disaster, it is not likely that it will disturb the airwaves much when you are under the topsoil.  If you were not videoed naked on the White House lawn during a presidential inauguration, it is not likely that your form will be seen by large audiences for very long after your funeral.  Being a hit in the future is awfully hard if you are not there to toot your horn or run naked in public.  “Now” is where it is at.

Humanity of Yesterday extended itself into uncounted Tomorrows, all of which constitute TODAY.  It will continue into unknown Tomorrows in only one way — in the impressionable minds and voices of TODAY’s children.  Most of us will accompany them for at least a short distance into the mystery of the future, but, the major part of that journey is theirs, and theirs alone, to make.  Humanity’s children are Humanity’s Tomorrow, and they will inherit what TODAY leaves them.

As a very small part of TODAY, I can’t really bequeath much to Tomorrow.  About all I can do is to make a favorable impression on TODAY’s messengers to Tomorrow.  If a child smiles at me, I smile back.  If it* speaks to me, I respond, whether with “goo, goo, goo,” or “What’s the name of the pet dinosaur you are holding?”  If it stares at me, I give it a wink.  I just do stuff to make them smile or giggle rather than shrink away, dubious of my intentions.  Neither ethnicity nor economic status is a factor in my offering of goodwill.  I try to connect favorably with all children I encounter.  It is the only way I can influence Tomorrow.

If I do not offend Tomorrow today, then Tomorrow may not have to look back at me and say, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”**


* it = he or she

** “Well…   into.”  A recurring line I remember from old Laurel and Hardy movies…   no, I did not attend the original screenings.

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Reverence For Life

Posted on August 27, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , |

“Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies…”  Alfred, Lord Tennyson (c) 1849   All rights reserved.

Yeah, that was a long time ago, so I guess that copyright has expired by now.  So, I’m not going to ask for written permission from the author to use it.

I was only reminded of the verse because I thought about taking some pictures of flowers (specifically, orchids) to spice up my, heretofore, rather bland presentations.  Refreshing myself on the wording of that little ditty, I checked on my smart phone (at least something associated with me is smart) and saw the question “what does that poem mean?” queried on  The answer that posted was, “The poem is about depression and disconnect of oneself.”

to which my unsophisticated approach to life queried, “Huh?  Say what?  Didn’t they even read the thing?

So, we got this dude out for a stroll, and he scopes a flower growing out of a brick or stone wall.  In one of the shallow, dirt-filled cracks, I gather.  It entrances him.  Moves in for a better look, he  does.

Eyeball-to-petal-and-stem, he considers this wonder before him.  “Wow!” he is thinking.  “The existence of such a thing as this is totally amazing.”  Oh, sure, you see plants growing everywhere all the time;  it is all so commonplace.  But, this one former seed has taken root in a nutrient-starved, precarious spot and made a life for itself in defiance of all the odds.  And, in triumphant bloom, it announces to a hostile world, “I WILL SURVIVE.”

How can you get “depression” and “disconnect” from all that?  From the perspective of the strolling dude, reverence for such a thing of beauty would seem to be the poem’s theme…   wait a minute.  What is that fool doing?  No.  NO!   …he   …he   …he just ripped that tiny success story out of that crack by its roots.  It’s going to die before it can realize its dream!  What is he saying now?   “…if I could understand what you are, root and all, all in all, I should know what God and man is.”

Why do I suddenly feel depressed and disconnected?


Next up:  We’ll play it by ear (but, I warn you, I’m tone deaf)

Just in case anyone is interested, I still have a few more posts on  The Great Cluster Fu…   I just need a short break to regroup.

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Digressions: Where No Foot Has Trod

Posted on July 2, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, MIM4.5a, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Your word for th daymuse = someone who is a source of inspiration

The old Greeks had them. Muses, I mean.  In earlier posts, I touched on them, even if somewhat irreverently.  For the Ancients, they explained what moved that most remote recess of Self, the mysterious Psyche, to elicit from it the creative urges and even the dark manifestations that we call the  human spirit.

For most of my life, I didn’t have a Muse.  But, I had a love of poetry, so I guess you could say that Erato was my nominal, default Muse.  In verse, I could take “the road less traveled,” and “rise with eagles” to “touch the face of God.”  By finding reflections of my own inexpressible feelings toward this torture we call Life, it gave comfort that I had fellow travelers on a journey I just knew would, somehow, end badly.  But, what the heck…   eat, drink, and be merry…   right?

In spite of the Muses, in spite of the poetry, not all that emanates from the Psyche is definable.  There is the unexplained, a pathos that darkens the soul, a heaviness that ensconces the heart making its every beat a Herculean task.  An aching that surges to unbearable fullness, then ebbs, only to surge again; a vast emptiness that hovers just beyond feeling, where echoes fade like  diaphanous whispers into infinite nothingness. 

A poem I memorized decades just a few years ago often surfaces during my own musings.  The third verse of Each in His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth (1859-1924) captures that feeling; at least, it has for me:                     

Like tides on a crescent sea beach, when the moon is new and thin, into our hearts high yearnings come welling and surging in;  come from the mystic ocean, whose rim no foot has trod.  Some call it longing, and others call it God.

Yearning.  Longing.  A deep, aching feeling devoid of anything that could define it.  When all is said and done, is this the total eulogy that Life will intone for each of us?

Next up:  MIM4.5a

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