Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bleeps to Earth!

After yesterday's "Bleeping" exchange [see below], there was a Time Out, then new revelations of The Quantum Hoax, then Susan came back with a new question:

SUSAN: I'm curious about this debate: Do people really need to be literate to operate in the natural world - or only to advance as a culture? We define literacy in many ways now - reading/writing literate, ecological literate, etc.

As some guy in "Bleep" says, we look inside ourselves (and outside ourselves, even conjuring "God"), and yet we can't find the "observer" - the seat of our own consciousness that looks at ourselves and out at the world. We can't find the observer, but we can sure identify the judge!

LAWRENCE: Good question or questions. Try this answer on for size, and see what you think....

Hmmm, well now, NOW/in modern times, advancing as a culture - perhaps even surviving as a species - is, as it always has been, tied to operating in the natural world, under it's unchangeable "laws" and constraints, its "limits." So yes, we do need both now as never before - and by both I mean to function, survive/thrive in the natural world AND to advance as a species, with all of our various cultures.

Let's keep in mind what the "Bleep" talking heads might call the holistic view - just a catch word, really, for our environment - everything that surrounds us and interacts with us, often sight unseen or out of sight - and on which we are as dependent as ever. Let's remember (or consider anew) that a higher knowledge of nature includes understanding and being pretty darned wise about (if not expertly predicting) human urges, human actions and reactions, human instincts and consequences in ALL their permeated and potential variety.

Nature R Us. Nature includes the social in all animals and thus social and the cultural in humans. And this is an important point: nature, in humans, includes - certainly includes so far - the spiritual and fantastical, phantasmagoric realms, flakey fantasies, pseudo-scientific snake oil, stellar insights, Big Bang theory, quantum hogwash and all. Thus far in our evolution and behavior and addictions, we can't divorce our species from the weight and power of even the strangest dreams, the most irration (and unfortunately common) irrational behavior or even the elaborate expectations of other beings, other lives, and the supernatural. Apparently, the longing of billions - the vast majority of humans - isn't going away any time soon, no matter what scientific knowledge and the scientific method suggest. Jesus and Elvis are still a lot stronger than Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan. That may be sad or even scary state of affairs, but we do have to try to function within the world as it is. You bet some of us see our species as (commonly) sadly crude, even barbaric, and also (but not so commonly) spectacularly inspiring.

If there were only a billion of us on the planet, maybe we could get by the old-fashioned way, gutting it out on faith and what we call "native intelligence," which need not be "literate," certainly not highly literate.

But now, testing the limits of the planet, digging out every precious thing we can use or consume about as fast as we can, without looking too far back or too far ahead, folks, we are setting ourselves up for a pretty big crash and burn. We need higher and higher amounts of not only literacy but intelligence and even good ol' intellectualism to survive.

Empower the Compassionate Intellectuals! I say amen to that!

We need more minds trained to think empirically and at the same time trained to be creative and innovative - not just leaders but consumers as well. To make a good show of things in this time of plunder, to really turn things around, to make this all a better place, we've pretty much got to be open to the big concepts of ecology and
interelationships, interdependencies, clashes of culture and power, ego and id, potentials and limits, rights and responsibilities. We've got to get a handle on our irrational demons and the best rational, reasonable tools we can muster. As is inferred in "What the Bleep," we've got to be attuned to our future prospects and "potentialities" (ugh word) for the evolution of human consciousness. (My old mentor Charlie Ogilvie would LOVE to be in on THIS discussion. Beloved Charlie, approaching 90, where are you, my man?)

So we need more "empirical," "objective," "secular," "scientific" thinkers, movers and shakers and FOLLOWERS. We're going to need a much higher portion of the world population to be such, and we haven't heard the last of breeding humans to get better overall results, to raise the average. Breeding humans, by choice, even with love and compassion for all, is outrageous heresy to our irrational, sentimental, religious reactions and emotions. But our future freedom to EXIST may depend on radical measures. Now there's an idea that tests the envelope of comfort and current political correctness. But we need to consider lots of ideas. There is a lot of fearly and conventional resistence to change and "progress," even highly altruistic progress, but the challenge is ours to keep a Very Large Array of mature and responsible concepts and options out there.

This all feels like a threat to those in power as well as those out of power or who feel threatened afraid or powerless since most people are highly vested in the status quo whether they see it, understand it or even know it or not.

The general idea here (and in "What the Bleep!?") is to ask us to question and perhaps even counteract the locked in, even essential brutishness of our nature.

But we can see from the growing sizes of the population and the problems we have both close to home and around the globe that we need billions, en masse, to be better thinkers, to, on the one hand, behave and act on their expanding, secular awareness and according to new findings. We don't need to - and probably can't - become devoid of sentiment. No one except a raging sociopath - or a heartless engineer - would really want that. But we do need to coax and shift our sentiments, again en masse, toward altruism, away from selfishness or selective convenience/opportunism.

Sounds dreamy, eh? Me just a goofy idealist crank, but big problems need big ideas. Big problems seem to need some salmon swimming upstream against the strong current of the status quo, to use the catch phrase "thinking outside the box," thinking outside the stream, thinking without vested interests in any one system, any one economy, any one culture. Now that is a freedom of thought few ever enjoy. Even most of the "freethinkers" are really fairly stuck, entrenched in the middle of yesterday's news and old ideas, too often based on politics, power, habits and money, instead of the source of all these conditions - the knowns and the unknowns of human nature.

We really do seem to be loosing sight of the common good, and we're not taught to be so accommodating but to strive and compete and get ahead.

I would say we also need to be more Buddhist, as it were, more compassionate, more empathetic, more open with our unknowns, our fears, our contradictions and discrepancies. I know I'm preaching here, but that's what I do. I'm an evangelical secularist, a compassionate humanist, a sentimental agnostic.

But hey, back to the show: We've got to show that our minds are playful, pliable, and resilient, more, in another word, "OPEN" to abstract, innovative, loosely formed ideas that may hold great grains of truth or at least things we might should consider, try and test.

We need to combine and reconcile, often and imaginatively, the natural, the poetic, the sentimental, the sensible, the awesome and the empirical. Few do well at reconciling these things. If there is to be much hope, we need "billions and billions" to do better.

The new intellectual age we may be seeing ahead of us or even entering, a few (post industrialism, post capitalism, post consumerist, post competitive?), is based on the new paradigm of... reconciliation - combining and unifying seemingly disparate
realms of thoughts, values, physical and emotional experiences. (Oh Charlie, you'd be proud!)

That is what human ecology is all about, otherwise know as "the ascent of man." That's really what our challenge is - to protect what is good and altruistic and sustainable- the virtuous, to jettison the antagonistic, the angry, the unsustainable.

So let's make a genuine continuation of our ascent our Quest, our Common Quest.

And our quest sure seems to be about MORE. It's got to be about BETTER.

So yes, it all comes back to nature - the nature we know, the nature we depend on, including our own nature - which is not so separate after all.

We are all in this together.

There is no "them," only us.


At 7/12/2005 8:56 PM, Anonymous Susan the Foil said...

I feel like the straight woman in this discussion, but hey someone's gotta prod the sheep-thinking... so if we're all in this together (and being a neo-pagan I'm assuming you're including the rest of living organisms) then what is it that unites us? (someone in the Bleep said that that smallest component was unity).
If we understood the connection we might act more mindful - since we have a vested interested. But i suspect that humans are so ingrained to be think of themselves as something apart from nature (as well as what's happening outside our heads is already set in stone) that it's hard to get into "i'm responsible" mode, let alone "i can change my behaviour/ mind-set."

Will scientific arguments/proof change people's attitudes or habits? will it be religious faith? or will it require a giant thump on the head (ala the Indian in the movie) i.e. a near death experience to make us stop in our tracks and say "what the bleep am i doing/thinking?" and shift gears/take a different path/ dream a different scenario.

Given that my course of action (or life path) seems so different from my parents, i would have to say that i wrestle with various ideas and found those that unsettled the old and inspired a new way of approaching life. It didn't happen over nite. I can't say it was always based on reason, nor would it be fair to imply it was just a gut reaction. Maybe i tried something on for a fit and then through that new "view" tested it with what i perceive as reality. But if the parts of the movie about the wiring of our brain are accurate, then once we veer onto a new path, we can rewire our thinking.

I long gave up on the idea that the only way to save the planet was brain transplants m(it would imply that there are enough good ones out there), but education, while more admirable, takes too long and i wonder if the planet has enough time to survive Homo sapiens.

At 7/13/2005 6:59 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Excellent rejoinder, Foiler Susan!

Me, too, wanting to prod the sheep thinking - though I'm sure most readers here at ABN are not high on the sheep scale.

And yes, I do include "the rest of living organisms," as that's the only ecologically astute way to go. A classic Sierra Club book from the 19060s, with photos of Big Sur and poetry by Robinson Jeffers, was titled, "Not Man Apart." We are not apart, only a part.

Generally, I am thinking these days that scientific arguments/proof will only slowly change some attitudes, as slowly as education might. I think sentimental appeals might work much faster and more efficiently. Not all think, but most are sentimental and might now or soon feel a connection to their own well-being.


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