Enlightened Conflict

wonder how the same thing can be both

February 7th, 2017

good bad best worst think do life be

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“I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.

I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.”

 

————–

Death

<in “The Book Thief”>

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So.

 

This quote is said by Death.

 

Yeah.

Death is suggesting he considers humans beautiful … as well as everything else that we are … all the while resting comfortably in his chair awaiting the opportunity to end it all.

 

We all know we're going to die, but it's one of the few human experiences we don't like talking about. How can we change that?

I admit.

 

The thought seems slightly counter-intuitive, but I like thinking the thought that Death is a lot more complicated than we may think.

 

I like thinking that Death sees us … and assesses us … and maybe even judges us a little … as not one-dimensional things to say ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down.’

 

I like thinking of death as not some grim reaper but rather a thoughtful person who has a job to do. One who contemplates the fact that some days will be good and some days just won’t be so fun.

 

I like thinking of Death One who can see the best and worst … acknowledging that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people.

 

And, I imagine, I like thinking of Death as … well … intelligent and not simply some mindless executioner wandering about seeking his next victim.

 

For sure this quote reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote about intelligence:

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

 

 

I believe it was Keats who called this ‘negative capability.’

 

best worst faces life people good badAs he explained <or tried to > “it is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

 

In other words … you understand, or least come to grips with, that there is a shitload of inconsistency and uncertainty in Life and, yet, you deal with it and do what you need to do.

 

<that’s my translation>

 

The truth in Life is that we really don’t have to be one thing because you’re not another thing – or not be something if you are something <you get it>.

 

It may seem impossible to appear to be a contradiction and, yet, be quite a successful, happy, productive bundle of contradictions.

 

Not only do you not have to be one thing forever but you can actually be a couple of things now … at the same time … in this time & place.

 

I sometime believe individual happiness is found more often than not in our ‘negative capability’ intelligence. In other words … how smartly we can navigate the contradictions in Life as well as the contradiction of what is within who & what we are. If we don’t learn negative capability then we must seem to inevitably seek to isolate being one thing and one thing only as a judge of whether we are living Life well, productively and with focus.

 

And maybe that is why I believe Death was, and is, intelligent — it has mastered negative capability. Death has embraced the contradiction of being one thing and yet living another seemingly contradictory idea.

If Death can see beauty in that which it will inevitably have to end with its own hand surely we can see good in bad … as well as be both bad & good ourselves.

 

Regardless.

 

It seems like there is a lesson in here for all of us. And maybe the lesson is, unfortunately, not that simple.

 

Death looks, on the surface, as one thing … and yet … is most likely another.

 

Death does one thing … and yet … most likely thinks many other things.

 

We view Death as one thing and avoid him … and yet … should we meet him on the street on his way to meet someone other than us … he may greet us with a smile.

 

While Death’s perception challenge  is actually called “affective fallacy” <confusion between what it is and what it does> this is a challenge we all face in Life.

 

I imagine, in the end, the lesson is a simple one … sometimes Life just isn’t that simple.

 

Ok.

 

Ditch the ‘sometimes.’best worst good bad life complicated

 

Life is never that simple.

 

We are more than one thing … we are a sum of all our parts … we are part of everyone we have met <and will meet> … and we are, at our core, a reflection of a multi-faceted character containing aspects of all which we desire to be as well as some aspects which we view slightly glumly as ‘the aspects I do not desire to be … but am.’

 

We either embrace the contradictions or … well … we will most likely suck at dealing with Life and living Life.

 

Anyway.

 

What I do know is that I wish someone taught “negative capabilities 101” because we should all sign up for that class. It would be a better world if we were all competent in negative capabilities.

 

 

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“When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I’ll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and lock the universe behind me when I leave.”

 

Neil Gaiman

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Order and Chaos

February 3rd, 2017

order chaos consistent hugh

 

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“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe … in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons.

 

But human life is almost pure chaos.

Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.”

 

—-

Katherine Anne Porter

 

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Well.

 

What an interesting thought this quote offers.

historic thinkerSuggesting that it isn’t Life that is random and chaotic … but rather us.

 

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 

This suggests that Life, if left alone, would be quiet, orderly and consistent.

That is something quite contrary to what I have written and what I believe most of us tend to think about.

 

I know I tend to think of Life as indifferent to us and , in fact, tends to care only about itself and its humorous existence by randomly pulling the strings of our Life on occasion just to make sure we are paying attention.

 

What if I have been thinking about it all wrong?

 

What if it is really just us crazy humans and not Life itself that creates the sometimes quirky zigs & zags in Life?

 

Wow.

 

If it is us then … well … we all better get our shit together.

 

This would mean that not only do we need to stop thinking about how we adapt to the quirks of everyday life but that we need to become better fighters of better human behavior <and attitudes I would imagine>.

 

Why?met the enemy and it is us pogo

 

Well.

 

Because this means the enemy is us.

 

This would suggest that there is, and will always … always, be something good we will need to be fighting for.

 

This would also suggest that what we see as true individual autonomy, which we most often associate with a sense of freedom, is a false narrative.

 

It is false because our self-interest and autonomy is not unfettered by rules or obligations to others but rather constricted, or fettered, by other people.

 

I would imagine we could view this on maybe several levels … our own self interest, imposed self interest <rules and guidelines set up by some larger entity> and the other persons’ self interest.

 

We then see the world as an orderly place if, and only of, all those things are aligned and all have the same interest at the same time for some meaningful amount of time from which we can get some sense of orderliness.

This would also then suggest that any adversity is not Life imposed but self imposed <if not by you but by someone else>.

 

But there is another aspect. I need to go back to the interest trinity of own self interest, imposed self interest <rules and guidelines set up by some larger entity> and the other persons’ self interest.

opinions fight myself

For if we only seek obedience to the ‘imposed interest’ we are doomed for failure.

Simplistically this is why authoritarianism and totalitarianism and autocracies fail.

They try to impose self interest which, more likely than not, does not actually align with real self interest and this generates a feeling of adversity … and chaos.

Which is slightly odd in that we are generating chaos from order.

All this does is point out that imposed order is more likely to create chaos than not.

 

There is a phrase called ‘obedient autonomy’ and I am purposefully misusing it to make a point.

 

Individualistic autonomy is a false narrative. Yes. we can make individual choices but unless we are on some island, alone, … we inevitably interact with other people and are connected culturally in a variety of ways.

 

We must have some self-imposed order to enable the greater whole to have a greater good.

Our self imposed order limits chaos created by people … not created by Life.

 

And … if we get our self imposed order wrong? Whew. It only creates more adversity, more angst, more friction and more inefficient cultural and societal behavior.

 

All that philosophical mumbo jumbo aside … here is my point.

 

We sometimes confuse what appears to be a disorderly and uncertain world with what is actually just disorderly and uncertain people.

 

Therefore, maybe we confuse chaos or randomness with what is actually unpredictability due to our lack of understanding or information <or maybe a thread of ignorance>.

next generation of thinkers

I believe we all know that there has to be some kind of standard, some kind of mutual agreement and that ‘some’ means it should be captured in some laws, rules and guidelines. That is not really ‘imposed interest’ but rather ‘interest captured in guidelines.’

This shouldn’t be that hard to grasp because, similarly, we all know there are clearly some scientific laws that govern the universe.

These are the things that help make some aspects of life predictable and orderly.

 

I read somewhere … there isn’t really much variation from stone to stone, or from lion to lion, or from cloud to cloud to us people. Therefore, you would have to say that without people the universe is extremely orderly with the occasional exception that actually proves the rule rather than disprove this rule of thinking.

 

Therefore, if we see randomness or we see chaos, it is not ‘the world’ nor is it some ‘universe thing’ … but rather people and personalities creating what we “see”.

 

 

thinker thumbtackWhy does that matter?

 

Because what people make … people can unmake.

Just ponder that when you think about a universe and world and Life which seems uncertain and out of control.

 

It is people creating that feeling of chaos & uncertainty and those people’s behaviors can always be constrained and contained by other peoples who are in the right and seek some orderliness.

raincoats

December 29th, 2016

 autumn-rain-fall

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“Because of the way this garment <Mackintosh raincoat> is made.

There is no stitching involved, it’s completely bonded/glued, in order to keep the garment completely waterproof. I owned a vintage Mac that I wore for years in my early twenties until someone stole it at a party.

Even after literally doing everything to wear it out, that coat always looked immaculate.”

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Ok.

 

Today is the 250th birthday of the guy who invented the Mackintosh raincoat <a Glasgow Scot named Charles Macintosh>.

 

 

 

raincoat-charles-macintosh-google-doodle

 

I used to own a Mac. It was hot when wearing … but that sonuvabitch kept you dry as a bone.

 

Alas.

 

I believe it was a victim of one of the dozens of moves I have made as part of some garage sale or some Goodwill donation as I was purging things <that I only ended up rebuying again at some point>.

 

Charles Macintosh was a Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabric.

 

Why am I writing about raincoats today <other than the fact I rue ditching my fabulous Mac>?

 

It is a reminder that inventions don’t have to be glamorous and that inventing is rarely glamorous.

 

It is a reminder that even with all the apps being ‘invented’ almost 95% of them are wasted energy and wasted money.

 

It is a reminder that most of the inventions that truly matter to us are the fruits of labor and not complete ingenuity but rather a practical ‘what the hell can I do with this’ attitude.

 

For example.

 

Macintosh had a nothing-wasted mind-set.

 

—-

His discovery of the long-sought solvent for rubber came out of his search for uses of some of the nastiest by-products of the nineteenth century progress,” Barnett writes. “Gas lamps were becoming popular in the cities of Europe, lighting up the wealthier streets and private homes. But the tar sludge left behind in the manufacture of coal gas was a public menace … Macintosh saw practical uses in the sludge and wastewater, which include valuable ammonia.

In 1819, Glasgow Gas Works was only too happy to sign a contract to sell him all the waste it produced.”

 

According to Today in Science, the sludge led to Macintosh’s famed invention:

In June 1823, Macintosh patented his process using a solution of india-rubber in naphtha soaked between two layers of cloth forming a sandwich that was pressed together. The rubber interior provided a layer impermeable to water, though still flexible.

His patent, No. 4,804, described how to “manufacture for rendering the texture of hemp, flax, wool, cotton, silk, and also leather, paper and other substances impervious to water and air.”

—-

 

From the nasty by products of civilization, which were thrown out as useless by the majority, one guy developed the rainproof fabric.

 

lamp bulb tulips isolated on white with clipping path

My point is that great ideas rarely arise from nothing … they arise from something. And they arise from someone who sees something in what others deem as useless or unimportant or some version of waste of time.

 

My point is that even disruption is defined by “discovering an unconventional way to do conventional things.’

 

My point is that the most meaningful inventions, the ones which impact the way we live, are not glitzy or glamorous or ‘seeking to be a global brand’ but rather pragmatic, practical and part of a way of living Life.

 

My point is that the best raincoat in the world was made from human excrement and industrial waste.

 

My point is that everything is useful.

 

young people smarter egg context

My point is that it is fairly likely that the next great idea is not going to be found by some branding guru or within some big high falutin’ brand but from someone we don’t know working in some garage using all the shit, some ideas and probably some random by-products … that all the ‘smart people’ have thrown away.

 

Enlightened Conflict