Monday, December 25, 2006

The Falsehood Of Absolute Truth

Another Distraction – Sort Of…

This is again another partial disconnect from the current thread, but it does do much to lead into the next part – and since it took up my available non present wrapping un-wrapping time today, I am putting my full reply here to a discussion begun on One Cosmos. The original comment by Integralist can be seen towards the bottom of the comments on Gagdad Bob’s One Cosmos.

In response to my negative reply to his earlier comment regarding the desirability of integrating Postmodernism with Classical Liberalism, Integralist said...

OK, so let's drop the formal, historical postmodern schools of contextualism and hermeneutics and go back to that basic Greek idea (“… if horses had Gods, they’d undoubtedly be very Horse-like…”). That's much simpler and I prefer simplicity, especially when my understanding of hermeneutics is more of the "gist" rather than the ins and outs.”

I’m with you on wanting to keep it simple, but attempting to separate a discussion such as this from an historical perspective, is to cut yourself off from the lessons available in the history of ideas, and condemn yourself to repeating them. And I gotta warn you, that the intellectual path you’ve put yourself on is in my judgment repeating a doozy of an error. I predict that it guarantees an ever increasing complexity in your thought, by way of an increasing separation from reality, and a resulting need to paper over, or overlook ‘details’ in order to preserve appearances. This is so, because the implications inherent in “Absolute Truth vs relative truth” (similar to what Kant put across as necessary and contingent truth), foretells a course doomed towards making particular assertions over principled applications.

I read in your comment:

We cannot speak Absolute Truth. We can only speak our highest vision of Absolute Truth, which is--and forever will be--relative. Relative to who we are at the time we experience and express it. Our relationship to Absolute Truth, to God or Spirit or the Mystery or simply Life, changes. Just as everyone reveres some kind or aspect of God, they just have a different name and conception for it.”

This idea of Absolute Truth, and relative truth – it is what raises my alarm bells right from the start. To my mind it mistakes the nature of truth. While I think I understand the intent behind it, intention is not enough, application and action are necessary, and there you must shall fall short. What I think that you don’t realize is, that by the very nature of accepting the idea of an “Absolute Truth”, that is in itself an assertion of the existence of static unchanging, and ultimately disintegrated truths.

To say something is true is to say it is true in relation to a multitude of attributes.

“The I-ness, as I see it, is Absolute Truth: it is the only aspect of experience that is without a doubt: I am.”
That was the starting point of Descartes as well, which not surprisingly was also the starting point of the stream of thought that led to PostModernism. But think about what you use to even express that statement “I Am.”.

From my earlier post“Spreading the Flames” :

“The first false trail began with the false start made by Descartes, who in trying to find a foundation from which thought could begin thinking from, thought that by resurrecting the Cogito Ergo Sum, “I think, therefore I Am” that it would be just such a position. What he didn’t see, was that a mind that held itself to be the root of reality, in actuality pulled its very roots out of reality, and set them floating about in a haze of its own creation. You can’t get to “I Think…” you can’t even get to “I”, to the idea of Identity – something unique and differentiated from other Stuff, without first having had experience of a larger reality from which to begin differentiating entities, and yourself, from.

But as the history of Modern Philosophy demonstrates, thought cut free from reality must rapidly lose the ability to Reason with a capital “R” ... These floating thoughts must, and did, tilt into a method which was no longer self correcting, a method which asserted whims and increasingly erratic emotional and irrational systems and declarations, through thoughts wholly unmoored from reality."

All of which is to say that by starting with your own thinking as the foundation for all of your thoughts, is to disconnect your thoughts from the Reality you are seeking. Thinking is relating perceptions and concepts at every level, it is a massively integrated continuum, and the basis for how our conceptual minds function – our modern notion that we can compartmentalize our thoughts, our actions, our desires – is a conceit of huge proportions.

Coming from your starting point, “I Am”, or “Cogito Ergo Sum” you will soon find yourself coming to the point of accepting or repeating Kant’s categorical imperatives – an attempt to declare certain invariable, never changing Absolutes. But the very nature of reality, down to the sub-atomic level, is relational. Truths are only true in relational to the surrounding reality, and the desire to fix a truth in stone and port it about to where ever it might be fun to trot it out, would make it separate from reality (an impossibility), and no longer true.

Because you are then disconnected from the context of reality, which is the only proper starting point, until you grasp that the world does not begin with you, but you with the world – until you realize (“make real” in your mind) this – all of your thought will be cut off from reality. I do realize that the intent of your statements is not this, but it reaches no further than intent, and intent isn’t enough – it needs to manifest itself in the actual action of your thoughts, in order to be… well, true.

"it is the only aspect of experience that is without a doubt: I am.

Perhaps, but it is a result of a process, not a point to claim to begin from. It is based on prior actions and integrations of reality from which the very ideas & words used to assert it are derived from, and which lead a sentient being to be able to grasp that they are “I AM” (that I am), and only in relation to what you are not , and that both and all do exist.

We cannot speak Absolute Truth. We can only speak our highest vision of
Absolute Truth, which is--and forever will be--relative.”

With hermeneutics I don't think we need to go as far as extreme postmodernism does: there is no reality, only interpretations; all cultures and ideas are equal because all are based on nothing.”,
,unfortunately they, the portion you like, and the portion you shun, are both direct and inevitable results of thoughts flowing from the starting point in thought from which they began.

And here is where you give an example of this:

“But are either ideas--that the stapler dropped on your toe hurts or that property rights are a necessity of freedom--truly absolute? That is, are the true in any time, any place?...”

Here is set up the unattainable goal, with the implication therefore that we can only trust in Absolute Truths which exist only in some higher realm unattainable to us, and also the implication that we are only able to deal in it’s poor relation, the knock-off ‘relative truth’.

“(For would that not define absolute truth: that which is true always and
everywhere?). I would say no. It is easy to think of situations where neither is
true. Of course that doesn't take away their contextual validity.”

Here you have an interesting take on attempting to have your cake and eat it too, appealing to both absolutes and contextual validity, but both serve to establish the inadequacy of any appeal to ‘real’ truth, leaving us only with approximations and compromises. In effect, you contextually discard reality!

To speak of truth, is to speak of something being true in relation to something else (many something’s), all of which is related within a wider context. But here, relation and context, do not diminish Truth – making it less than some revered “Absolute”, but instead serve to energize it through proper identification of what exactly it is, what truth refers to, what the process of identifying something, anything as true – Is.

Bear with me for a (long) moment as I grab a relevant quote from another post "Would you trust the liar who tole you he was going to lie to you"

“One way Kant attempts ..." (this) "... is with his extensive use of “necessary" and "contingent" statements or truths. The classic example of "2+2 equals Four is a necessary truth", and that there can not be round squares - because we cannot imagine (hear Descartes echoing through here?) it otherwise. Their
purpose is to trick you into looking so closely at the particulars, that you
miss the sleight of hand removal of the wider context within which they both
reside - all issues of the molecular structure of water and your experiences of
life here on earth, in reality, are removed from your consideration by the
Kantian 3 card monty player who says "But Ice sinking in water, is merely a
contingent truth, because we can easily imagine ice sinking to the bottom of a
glass of water.", as he whisks reality, unseen and out of your attention, off of
the table without your even relaizing it.

It is as if they are stymied by anything deeper than the perceptual level concept. Circles & Squares are too two dimensionally defined by their appearance for even them to deny. But anything whose conceptual depth is deeper than those 2 dimensions, and their conceptual grasp is strained, their mental gripping power too weak (Hume suffered from the same lack of conceptual gripping power 'Principle'? Too darn heavey) like an Ostrich, they seem to think “If I can’t see it’s properties, it
must not be important”.

What that actually means, is that they've divorced their thoughts from having any connection to the real world. They've lost the understanding that reality IS. Things are. Squares are 4 sided objects where each side is of equal length - in that the length of the sides are all properties of a square, in the same way as the properties of Ice are just as integral to it. Just as they like to rip the meaning out of a word, while cherry picking it's desirable connotations to be used regardless of it's actual meaning - they do the same thing when having you imagine Ice as having the "look" of Ice, maybe being cold also, but then scrapping away all the other properties of ice such as being lighter than water. Ice is Ice - it is defined by all of its properties, you can’t separate its buoyancy from its temperature, its essential properties are reflective of what it IS, you cannot pick and choose them.

Whenever you hear them talking about whether something "could be true or false in some other universe", you should reject it outright as the worst of hypothetical garbage designed to divorce truth from that which makes it true, divorcing mind from body, thought from reality. Whenever you hear them start “Imagine a universe where…” they are not only going to play “lets pretend”, but then try to convince you that their conclusions formulated in their pretend world should take precedence over yours, and then even that their pretend world is more real than the real real one we live in. It is the source of all of their 'errors', and their disappointment in, and neurotic rejection of Life, and which can be seen in their art, literature and failed
The point is that to exist, is to exist in reality, which is to exist within reality wherein all things are contextual. A small glimpse of the contextual implications in the statement of a stapler falling on my toe will hurt, is to say by implication that an object released here on earth’s surface from a stationary position whose surroundings are not themselves falling through the air, with no intervening or restraining obstructions to impede its velocity, from a height of 3 feet to fall upon my bare toe, which is also stationary upon a solid surface, un-numbed by any medications and while the owner of the toe is wide awake, will cause sufficient discomfort to be described as pain.

Notions of Absolute Truth can’t cover even a simple situation as this, because it would attempt to cover every conceivable detail, which is always alterable, and so invalidated, by adding or subtracting just one detail – that is the brittleness of Absolute Truth, at best it can be no more than a detailed description of one partial & isolated incident.

This is not the stuff our minds are designed to work with. What our minds are designed to do – is to operate by reference to concept and principle primarily, adorned with as many perceptual details are necessary to the present purpose. Any seeking after, or even worse, attaining to “Absolute Truth” would not be a blessing to the human mind, but a hindrance. Absolute Truth rooted in massive amounts of detail, with no measure of what is essential vs non-essential would be less than a thought, it would represent a state of unthinking.

Thinking, grasping truths, consists in relating essentials only, and discarding the non-essentials as extraneous ballast. If you don't toss them overboard, you'll never get off the ground.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

But Then Again...

On the other hand, I can't leave it at that, it's Christmas Eve, tomorrow's Christmas Day the ultimate day to celebrate being born again from above... so,

Merry Christmas!!!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!!!
;-) - (-:

A not so Merry observation on the eve of Christmas (and a temporary diversion from the current Post-Series[which should continue tomorrow.]

Cultural Heroes

I take culture, and in our case especially Pop-Culture, to be the representative expressive display of all that the dominant philosophy of the time values and aspires to.

A not so complete sampling of other cultural (not religious, but current cultural ideals) heroes of the past have been Achilles, Pericles, Alcibiades, Alexander the Great, Cincinnatus, Augustus [a centuries long break] Charlemagne, King Arthur, Isaac Newton, Shakespeare, George Washington, Rousseau, Lord Byron, Thomas Edison, Cyrano de Bergerac, John Wayne, FDR, James Dean, JFK, Jim Morrison, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lechter. An interesting list. Selective to be sure, but I don't think unrepresentative as to the fondness of their times.

Modern philosophy being ruled still - in disarray for sure, especially since the fall of the USSR, but dominant still, by the current end-point of Marxism - Postmodernism. And so modern culture, especially pop-culture, self-evidently shows itself to be the direct descendent and expression of postmodernism. I recently [actually less than recently, about an hour ago] strolled by [in my own basement] a TV broadcasting a show on cable 'Celebrity Resume', that quizzed contestants about what actors were involved in what TV shows & movies, well known or unknown - trivia. The content - certainly worthy of some commentary - isn't what caught my eye, at least not beyond an eye-roll.

What did catch my eye, were the contestants, and the staging, and the lighting.

Lit from below so as to cast their faces in shadow, with camera angles and backlighting to accomplish the same effect as stage and lighting directors seek to accomplish in horror movies, and/or in any setting where menace is desired to be conveyed (keep in mind the nature and subject of the show - entertainment trivia - remarkably, someone actually made that choice, but again, not the point here)

The contestants, several at any rate, were dressed in fashionably thuggish attire, most with disturbing tattoo’s creaping [yes MS Word, I know that’s misspelled] out from their sleeves and up through their collars and on up and around their necks.

Basically, the mood achieved, as has been the goal of most pop-culture for the last 70 years, has been that the edgy, the dangerous, the bad guy; as cool, worthy of emulation, in spirit if not deed.

Why would that be?

Think about it, why would that be held up as an ideal?

What is such an ideal - the reality behind the ideal - what can such a person (by way of their image) be counted on to be even remotely possible or able to, accomplish in life? At the best of expectations, they might - after being turned at the last moment by an Holywood style epiphany - might be useful in defeating an enemy. But then what? What can they accomplish?

At the core of their projected image is the threat of destruction and violence - not in the defense of Values, such as with the Military (Note the image of the Ideal Marine in a recruiting poster - clean, sharp clear lines in face and dress, self control and order dripping from his pores and manner - utterly at contrast with that of a thug), but only of violence and destruction being trained on those defenseless against them.

An Ideal producing nothing, creating nothing, expressing nothing (nihilism) but menace.

Ask yourself what a philosophy must have as its goal, for this to be its commonly understood expression? Modernity IS a child of the Enlightenment, but there were two strains of the Enlightenment, and after a promising start by my favorite (the English branch), the other strain (French fried) is currently ascendant over the other - at least in modern culture. To see the contrast in another way, imagine offering two contrasting positions to aim for, one of the English Enlightenment, the other of the French Enlightenment.

What We Need Is A Good One-Handed Culture

Picture standing there side by side as representatives of the popular cultural ethos & ideals of each - on one hand:

  • George Washington, a man preeminently representing Character, integrity, ability, trustworthiness and judgment - of quite plainly representing Truth, Justice and the American Way -

juxtaposed on the other hand with:

  • Hannibal Lechter representing menace, fear, destruction, unlawful murderous uncontrolled rage and someone possessed with an abundance of culturally bestowed 'Cool'.
These truly are our choices before us. You can try to dissemble, avoid and excuse - but they remain representative Icons of the directional compass of each culture.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Glamorous Thoughts - What Are Words For part 2

What is the relationship between thoughts and words?

Everyone knows that a proper sentence is supposed to convey a complete thought – but can a complete thought only be conveyed, or received, via a properly constructed sentence? I think all artists inherently know that the answer to this is No, thoughts can be conveyed rather nicely, even powerfully, with or without the assistance of words. Any sculpture or well conceived painting can give proof enough of this.

Have you seen the movie 'Saving Private Ryan'? There are many powerful scenes in it, but I’m not talking about the carnage of the battle scenes, but merely the opening scene of the aged veteran shuffling, speechlessly, unstoppably up the path to the cemetery at Normandy, his family following behind, a little confused and even concerned for the elderly gent. The American Flag fluttering in the breeze – its appearance somewhat silvered in the glare of the sun and the rows of headstones, rippling in the breeze. The old man pushes on, breathing heavily, almost sobbing until finally he stops at the grave of a comrade... dead for decades, surrounded by so many others....

I don’t know about you, but I was already choked up at that point and the movie hadn’t even really begun. No words. But the essence of a soul wrenching task, of incomparable sadness, grief, loss, even guilt is conveyed just through imagery.

But no words.

So, what gives? We all know we need words, but why? To do what for us? Why do we go to school (for our purposes here, lets assume the schools are worthwhile)?

No doubt that Communication is Immensely improved by the use of words, no doubt... (really no doubt? Hmm) but that is not their greatest value to us; I have become quite sure that that is not the reason why we a species have struggled to build the languages and vocabularies we have today, not to mention those we've lost in the past. These languages that are always growing, re-focusing, ever changing – alive like us, alive through us, are not cheifly for us to communicate to each other, or at least that is not its essential purpose and value to us.

Now there’s no need to worry, I’m not going to go off on some newagey “feelings! Nothing more that fee-eelings!” tangent. There are few people I know who are more convinced of the necessity and crucial importance of words, and a well defined philosophy to structure them within, but this question needs to be considered.

What is the relation between Thoughts and Words? Not in an wackademic sense, but in the sense of a living word within us, inspiring us, guiding us for good or ill – what is the nature of that relationship between Thought and Word, and what does it mean to us and to our lives?

There are many, many things which words can do and accomplish for you, but of those things only a very small few of them are what Aristotle would call essential to their identity, and I think that not having their essence identified, is detrimental to your thoughts and mine, and our ability to use words effectively, and to ward off their being used ineffectively. Strangely enough, it is seeming to me that the ineffective use of words can be far more dangerous than even their intentionally malicious use.

A couple of days ago over in the comments section of One Cosmos, Commenter in Chief, Will, pointed out that Grammar and Glamour have a common ancestry. A site “Word Detective” goes deeper into this relation:

"Glamour" and "grammar" are essentially the same word. In
classical Greek and Latin, "grammar" (from the Greek "grammatikos," meaning "of
letters") covered the whole of arts and letters, i.e., higher knowledge in
general. In the Middle Ages, "grammar" was generally used to mean "learning,"
which at that time included, at least in the popular imagination, a knowledge of
magic. The narrowing of "grammar" to mean the rules of language was a much later
development, first focusing on Latin and only in the 17th century extended to
the study of English and other languages.

Meanwhile, "grammar" had percolated into Scottish English (as "gramarye"), where an "l" was substituted for an "r" and the word eventually became "glamour," used to mean specifically
knowledge of magic and spells. "Glamour" was then introduced to English (by, among others, Sir Walter Scott), and took on the meaning of "enchantment," and later "alluring charm" and our current "exotic and fashionable attractiveness."

This relation bears some further investigation.

Now I won’t go in depth into another myth just yet, but just to gloss the myth of Hercules and the Hydra, is I think of particular note here. A thumbnail view is that Hercules was tasked with a number of labors, tasks to accomplish, one of which was to kill the monster we know as the Hydra. This was a beast with numerous viscious heads which, once cut off, grew two more back again in it’s place. Hercules and his friend Iolus soon discovered that if you cut off the head and immediately burned the wound with Fire, the head could not grow back again, either alone or in pairs. Soon they hacked off and burnt the flesh of each writhing neck, leaving the immortal head at their center which Hercules swept off and buried under a massive Rock. The blood of the Hydra, which was poisonous, Hercules conserved and dipped his arrows in it, for possible future deadly use.

At one level of this Myth there is the adventure story, and also a lesson that you need to get to the root of a problem, not just attack its effects, and the hint that you can use an enemies tricks, poison, against other enemies, if you are careful and clever. There are many ways of interpreting this myth, some Christian interpretations have been of the heads standing in for the phases of the moon and pagan activities forever assailing you until you renounce the beliefs at their center.

At another level, the Hydra can be seen as the cardinal signs, the need to not fight the sinful act itself- for if you take away the wine, you will surely find the whiskey, or though you stop sleeping with your secretary, you may wind up with your neighbors wife; but that it is necessary to change your flawed thoughts at the root of their 'sin', the need for Values, for developing a strong and sound Character, and then and only then, the sinful head will no longer grow.

If you persist in right behavior, in strengthening your Character, eventually you will arrive at the central head, and with that one cut off, though its original sin is immortal – if you bury it under a heavy rock of wisdom, you may escape its clutches, you'll never be completely safe of course, but free none the less. And there is also the knowledge that the essence of those sins, the life blood of them, those can kill - and if you allow the thought and conduct that fosters them to continue, or to deal in them yourself, they will produce death and destruction on their own.

Then there are also the well meaning dolts who helpfully offer up explanations such as “The Hydra probably was a giant squid, whose tentacles could have appeared as multiple necks and heads to primitive men, and in the telling the tale grew”. Again, these types are as deluded and senseless as those who believe that Hercules actually physically fought a 9 headed Hydra which grew more heads back as he cut them off.

Now here we have one tale, one seemingly flat narrative, but with many thoughts able, and even competing, to be conveyed through it – by way of what? It’s words? Not directly, not solely through the words alone, but through the imagery painted with the words, and that imagery... well there in lies much magic. As Will, the enforcer and (nominated) poet laureate over at One Cosmos pointed out the other day in the comments section of One Cosmos, “...The medium through which a "glamour spell" travels must be metaphysical in nature, even if the glamour is not spiritual per se...”

In other words, these 'words' of ours are magic, there is something in the structure of words, that allows meaning at the metaphysical roots to be conveyed, and that meaning is able to travel... from the source, into your mind... and with an internal meaning of its very own (perhaps dependent on your internal meanings), independent of the words which spawned it, directly and deeply, into your heart.

I think that that medium is something that exists not only in the relational realm of Idea and Thought and Word, but in their unlabeled, and little defined, nature – that nature that nearly leaps out of the glowing embers of a campfire as a tale teller spins a story of adventure, fear, danger and quest. It is also the nature that lurks behind words and phrases of many meanings, words and phrases which actors and supreme court justices can use, or be used by, to sway us, to hide our most precious values and freedoms from us (and even themselves) right before our eyes.

I’ll take a look at that labeling, non-labeling and mis-labeling system we employ daily, and how it weds thought to word and to poetic image, next time.

To be continued... soon.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What are Words for? - What Are Words For part 1

A condescending manner and a blizzard of words and jumbled meanings.

Justice Stephen Breyer was on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace 12/3/2006, giving an interview and in my admitedly hostile opinion, very aware that he was Giving an interview, an audience to his Wiseness; Wallace questioned him about the wisdom of some of his rulings. This passage from the interview that asks him about his ruling on campaign finance law, I think sums it up well:

“...say that these campaign finance limits, what they are doing is they are
telling a person that wants to give 20 million dollars, that he can’t finance
all the speech he wants. Doesn’t that violate the first amendment? That’s a
slogan. Why? Because think about it, think about that first amendment. It was
done, enacted, passed to help our country, of now 300 million citizens to run
fair and free elections.

Freedom of speech was passed to enable fair and free elections. The
very point of speech in an election, is to get a message across, and that may
mean in part that you don’t want one person’s speech, that 20 million dollar
giver, to drown out everybody elses. So if we want to give a chance to people
who have only one dollar and not 20 million, maybe we have to do something to
keep that playing field a little more level, in terms of money. If you accept
that at all, you’ve suddenly bought in to the proposition that there are 1st
amendment interests on both sides of this equation – and once you’re there, you
see this problem as complicated, and once you see it is complicated, you begin
to factor in to what extent do we defer to congress and the answer is going to
be quite a lot, but not completely. See what I’ve done? I’ve showed you how to
go back to that quote – I‘ve used that word purpose to help me in a case where
the language isn’t clear, where the history isn’t clear, where the tradition
isn’t clear, where the precedents aren’t clear, but we have to decide how in
that realm of ambiguity to apply the value that’s permanent and always there, in
free speech, to a modern, difficult situation.”

The first switcheroo we have here, quite horrifying in a Supreme Court Justice, is the redefining of the meaning and purpose of free speech. To say that it’s purpose is to run fair and free elections, is breath taking. The original purpose of the free speech amendment was to protect the right of individuals to express political free speech, to freely engage in expressing political ideas and in debating them free from the fear of regulation and penalty from the Gov’t. While that will certainly have an effect on elections, to say that it’s purpose is to assure free and fair elections is appalling, and completely subverts the meaning not only of the first amendment, but of the constitutions itself.

The next switcheroo he makes is to equate fair with equal. That nobody has a right (remember this is a supreme court justice speaking – when he implies rights, it is significant to your future) to have more influence than anyone else. Here he seeks populist approval by dirtying the idea of a particular istance of free speech, by painting it with the soiling brush of “millions of dollars”, but it will be used by those saying that just because a majority of people reject a view [socialism, capitalism, or insert your bogey-ism here] for instance, is no reason that it shouldn’t have just as much say as say, individual rights.

Then he moves to muddy the waters to cover his tracks, to misdirect, confuse, obfuscate what he’s actually just done. Despicable.

But this isn’t what I want to talk about, it is merely a common effect of it. What? Before getting to that, lets take a quick look at the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

It seems that ancient Athens was having to pay a tribute to the distant imperial Minoan King Minos of several of their young, who he would cast into the dark labyrinth beneath the palace of Knossus, to be killed and eaten by the Minotaur, the half man-half bull monster that lurked within the mazes of the labyrinth.

Theseus the newly returned son of the king of Athens, resolved to be one of the next payment, and to kill the Minotaur, or die trying. His father was against his going, but even worse than his going, he couldn’t bear the thought, couldn’t bear the forseeable tension of seeing the ships eventual return and having to watch their slow return over the horizon, waiting for it to land to discover whether he was successful or killed, so he asked Theseus to raise a black sail if he lived.
Ariadne, daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus gave Theseus a golden thread, a way to find his way back out of the labyrinth to her (she thought) after killing the Minotaur. He thanked her and took her thread with him as he went into the labyrinth, deep into the winding passages of the maze. Deep in their darkness he did find the monster and he killed the minotaur, and his mission accomplished, he followed the thread back out of the labyrinth – but not to the completion of his original purpose, not to return to Ariadne and marriage and a future together; instead he abandoned her alone on an island and returned alone to Athens. Also on returning to Athens, he forgot to change his sails to signal his Father that he was there and alive – and his Father thinking his newly found son to be dead, threw himself from the cliffs to his death.

Theseus accomplished the particulars of his task, he entered the labyrinth, he killed the Minotaur, and made it back out alive, but in so doing, somewhere in that dark labyrinth or in killing the monster, or in the process of doing both, he lost not his way, but his purpose. He followed the golden thread of truth back out of the darkness, but he forgot to return to its source. He forgot love, appreciation, a future united with that source that made his survival possible. In so doing he also forgot his past and the new found future it promised too, and it became dead to him as well.
This is a myth, and as with all good myths, it holds more truths within it than any will likely ever discover. It also holds a snare for to twin fools, one twin who believes that there was a half-man, half-bull creature that actually lived and breathed called a Minotaur, and the other fool is the one who complains that there couldn’t really be such a creature as the Minotaur, a half man, half bull. Literalists and those in opposition to literalists, be they Fundamentalists and Atheists, or insert your ‘favorite’ here, nearly always both miss the Truth by equally wide margins.

There is also something missed, however, by those who read meaning into the poetry of the words – the golden thread being truth, Ariadne love and promise, the Father past & destiny lost... there is also a meaning, a spell a magic that lives in the story itself, not in its words alone, but in the poetic imagery as a whole that is contained in the entirety of the tale. We in the West, I, often become so enraptured in Words, that we lose sight of not only what they are for, what they accomplish – but also of what they are not, and what can be accomplished without them, or even with them when used in opposition to their meanings.

We forget that words are not needed to tell stories. Words are Not needed to communicate. In the Pacific Islands there are Hula dancers who can tell entire, intricately woven stories, entirely in the form of a dance. Yes, we can say that that’s only possible, because the people are already with the story and the words that make them, but there is more to it than that.

My next few posts have been rattling around in the overworked underslacked crooks and crannies of my head for quite some time, resisting my intermittent attempts to put them into words. Then they began to kind of spill out in a disordered fashion, and I’ve been unable to put them into any order; until last night when the dim bulb lit above the ol’ noggin, and I think I see the way to do it.
It’ll take a few posts though, the good news is it’s mostly written. The bad news is it’s a bunch of Words, and I’m not entirely sure just what Words are for. We’ll see if we can figure it out over the next few posts.

What are words for...Gazing into a well worn fire, a thick bank of orange embers with old and fresh logs blazing atop them, the night dark around you, stars and moon pale rivals to your Fire; what is it you do looking into that fire? What do you imagine to be the difference to be between you now, and them then, five, ten, fifteen, twenty thousand years ago? Our ancestors? Were they like us? Did they have the potential to be like us?

Are we like them?

You stare into the fire and think, and converse in wonder about your lives, and you tell stories. I’ll bet that even before there existed a large vocabulary, the stories were told still, relying heavily on motions and pantomimed enactments, and I’ll be that their story was conveyed even so – the action, the pain, the quest, fear and triumph – thoughts were transmitted from one person to another, even when the supply of words was thin.

What did those first words do? What are words for? What are words? What are words relation to you, your thoughts and your soul? Why do we need them if communication is possible without them? There are many things which words can do, in song, in giving greetings, relaying how many deer were killed in the hunt, etc, but I think that all of these are just nice to haves.

Words real purpose are much narrower. And stories, and fires purposes are much, much broader.
To be continued... tonight, tomorrow... soon.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thanks to the Millitary

I don't have the time to do it justice, but on this day in particular, December 7th, 1941, I say thank you to all those who have, are and will, serve in the Millitary of the United States of America; putting their lives at risk to defend the Nation that makes my families lives possible - not our toys, but our Lives.

Thank You.

P.S. - Should have a new post up this weekend, sorry for the lack of Posts, a lack of slacktime gives little opportunity for writing.