I find myself immediately in White Rabbit mode this morning, having slept over eight hours again, not arising until AFTER the coffee machine had gone off at its pre-set time, a time I generally beat by a good hour each day. This morning, I find myself just beginning this process after 5 AM, which is VERY late, for me….
Ah well, such is life, at least, as we know it…. consistency is only present in Nature in predictable ways. The sun comes up pretty consistently, and there are a few other universal factors of existence, (Death, taxes, etc.), we can count on to happen on a regular basis like that. Otherwise, it’s a crap shoot, ffolkes, so most of us get used to not finding things exactly as we left them the last time we dealt with them….
We humans even have a word for that, to wit: entropy, which, loosely defined tells us, “Things fall apart”…. which phrase, by the way, is the title of a very good little book, by a young African author, named Chinua Achebe…. It is considered one of the best English language books about Africa, used in many colleges to exemplify the genre…
The story, about an Igbo tribesman in central Africa, is one that gives us a very good understanding of this principle, (entropy), and how it affects our lives, and our relationships with others in society, as we all try to cope with this basic flaw in the design of our universe…
Of course, it is only a flaw to our way of thinking…. None of the other inhabitants of this plane of existence seem to have a lot of trouble dealing with this particular aspect of reality; they just shrug their equivalent of shoulders, and soldier on, going on to whatever the next thing the universe presents to them for their perception, and their experience….
Not that the universe cares or anything, but, it does make it pretty well impossible to avoid dealing with the iconic forces of chaos, with glaring examples at every turn to remind us of how fragile is our perceptive model, and how often it must be amended with codicils or changes to our attitudes.
All of which, of course, has nothing at all to do with this Pearl…. it’s simply another attempt to draw your attention away from what we are doing here behind the curtain, and to give y’all good reason to come on in, settle down in one of our comfortable seats, order up an adult beverage, and say goodbye to irrationality, as we take off on another exploration of this planet and all its wonders…. I don’t think it would be wise to tell you how the plane runs, or where, exactly, it will take us…. all of that is subject to change at an instant’s notice, anyway…. This is CONSENSUAL REALITY, you know, not some cheap imitation…
That having been said, for what is is worth, (and no snickering from the back rows….), we’ll get on with this, to settle down the nerves of our White Rabbit, so he, too, may enjoy the ride….
Shall we Pearl?…..
“Assess the advantages of taking advice, then structure your forces accordingly, to supplement extraordinary tactics. Forces are to be structured strategically, based on what is advantageous.” — Sun Tzu
Following this instructive, ethically stimulating quote by Lazarus, which immediately follows this paragraph, you will find a discussion of ethics and/or morality, with a short little foray into religious philosophy, from the standpoint of my own personal philosophy, much of which is based on the concept(s) involved in understanding, and, equally importantly, accepting the principle whereof Lazarus speaks, to wit: “duty”.
Making one’s chosen “duty” a part of one’s life demands a certain degree of honesty, as well as the courage to apply that honesty to one’s own actions, thereby accepting responsibility for them; this attitude is not one I have found to be common to the philosophies of any the religions I have studied….. When the discussion was first posted, no pearls were associated, until the end, but, this one is the perfect lead to what follows….
“Do not confuse ‘duty’ with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.” — Lazarus Long
I am an asshole. A jerk. A prick. A foul-mouthed, misbegotten excuse for a human being…. I, as is true of virtually all seven billion of my peers on this planet, am nothing more than a hypocrite, deserving of eternal residence in the lowest pits of hell for my perfidy….. What, you might ask, prompted this viciously personal outburst of self-denigration? Well, let me tell you….
Most of us, at some point or another, sit down from time to time to think about our actions, those we are considering, and those we have acted out in the past, to get some perspective on how those actions have conformed to our ethical and moral beliefs. In other words, we sit in self-judgment; whether we do so to praise or to chastise doesn’t matter, ultimately, as long as it is an honest appraisal, and we do not flinch from owning up to our baseness where it is found…..
This is why I am forced to curse myself…. Because I’m not a Catholic, or any other faith that espouses such mummery, (I don’t mean to pick on Catholics…. some of my best friends, etc….. :lol: ….. They’re just an example everyone recognizes, and can relate to as similar to their own….)…. Any who, because I’m not of that Tribe, I don’t have the luxury of confessing to a priest, who would then reassure me that I am still one of the Chosen Ones, and send me on my way having learned nothing but a false sense of entitlement.
I can’t just pass off what I may have done in my life to some faceless butthead in a dress, who, no doubt, has a great laugh at the expense of the penitent, when he and the other priests get together in the rectory for a few drinks, passing around all the latest tall tales and outtakes from the confessional booth…..
I consider myself to be a morally upright person, and hope that my actions reflect that. But, I know for certain that, like every other human being who ever lived, I don’t always live up to those moral beliefs, and fall from grace on occasion…. If I were a less honest man, I’d say that there were mitigating, or at least explanatory reasons for my failures to hold to my own standards, but, if I tried that, my Dad would kick my ass from now until Thursday the next time I see him, so I’m not going to take that chance…. I take full responsibility for my actions, base and cruel as they were, and no one can hold me in lower regard than I do….
I had considered using this venue as a confessional, to air out my transgressions on the stage of reality, but, I don’t think that would be any more ethical than confessing to a priest…. Confession may make a difference to the penitent, by absolving him/her from any lingering guilt that could adversely affect them (i.e., they feel better about themselves after receiving absolution…), but, in truth, it doesn’t mean a damn thing, as nothing is done to balance the scale, in a karmic sense, especially for whatever creature or person that was the victim of the cruelty. The only act that would mean anything would be for the perpetrator to use the experience to motivate them to two things….
One, to try to repair whatever hurt or pain they have caused another creature…. man, animal, doesn’t matter…. They don’t deserve to be victimized, no matter their form, and ALL one can do, to fix any harm they have caused, is the least they should do….
Second, use the experience as motivation to make a change in themselves, to act with greater understanding, greater compassion, and greater control over themselves and their feelings…. which is what guilt is all about, right?….
The difference is that, when one confesses to a priest, and receives absolution, there is no motivation to make any changes in their actions…. They know none is necessary, since they can relieve themselves of any guilt they may feel by confessing…. so, why bother?
On the other hand, when one assumes the responsibility for their own actions, the guilt doesn’t go away…. I will never forgive myself for some of the things that I’ve done in my life (nor will I share them in any attempt to gain forgiveness from anyone else…. it’s none of their fucking business….)
(Besides, that whole confessional thing just sounds too much like a blackmail scheme…. the people who confess are sure putting their fate trustingly into the hands of those priests, aren’t they?). That simple fact is what keeps me from falling into the same ethical trap I did when I lost my cool, and acted without thinking, or took my feelings out on innocent bystanders….. Not going to happen again, a sentiment which, I’m sure, is NOT what you can expect from any religicos after confession….
You will note that there are no pearls associated with this discussion…. That’s because I am such an asshole, none were needed to stimulate me into spilling my guts, so to speak…. Besides, I couldn’t find a proper pearl for the beginning of such a somber subject by the time I was ready to write about it…. But, Murphy must have liked the way I dissed myself, because, hunting for an appropriate closer, afterward, I found these two, which, together, make a grand finishing touch for this subject…. Think of them as bookends….
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” — J. C. Watts
Boy, that hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it?….. I’ve got these two quotes reversed in the order in which they make the most sense, but, given the state of things here, that isn’t surprising, is it?…. This is the one that probably should go at the front of this piece, so, just put it there in your mind, okay? Thanks….. (Note from 2014: Actually, you may, or even should, ignore all of these final comments on the care and placement of pearls, as they are currently out of context, all because the pearl that now graces the front of this discussion is so perfectly suitable….)
“We tell lies when we are afraid, . . . afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.” — Tad Williams, Spoken by Dr. Morgenes, To Green Angel Tower (part of — Memory, Sorrow and Thorn)
Again, to save others from embarrassment or guilt by association, here is another of my old poems, which, sort of, fits in with today’s elusive theme….
A pig in a poke’s got nothing on me,
cuz I’m as confused as a man can be.
This ol’ world’s got me spinnin’ around
cussin’ and spittin’, a penny for a pound.
Forty ‘leven times since I was a kid, well,
I’ve fallen in love, ‘least too close to tell.
Every damn time, it all went to crap,
Forty ‘leven times I’ve felt like a sap.
‘Course, each time it happens, I forget the last;
why not? I’m havin’ such a blast….
Livin’ in each moment, filled with joie de vivre,
’til it’s all gone away again, nothin’ left up my sleeve.
Don’t want y’all to think I’m sad or blue,
life’s full of sorrow, lots for me, and/or you..
T’other side of that coin, we can be glad,
is joyful love, and that ain’t at all bad.
My road’s been littered with parts o’my heart,
each one colored with trust, which ain’t always smart.
Yet, long as I don’t lose my connection to joy,
I’ll find my own true love, and be a happy boy.
It’s been some kinda fun, even when I’d take a fall,
and doin’ it over makes no sense at all, at all
Day after day, I keep on keepin’ on, as it’s said;
Guess I’ll keep on doin’ that ’til I’m dead.
~~ gigoid ~~
….with tongue lodged firmly in cheek….
Most days, even if running this late, I would put an old-school pearl here, just to maintain the structure for these Pearls that I think works the best…. Today, though, I just happen to have an archived pearl, somewhat old school, lifted from a Pearl posted back in ‘Aught Twelve’…. I think it’s pretty good, and so do you….
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
– Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) — Just So Stories (1902) “The Elephant’s Child”
I first read the phrase “feeding the Elephant’s Child” in a Robert Heinlein novel, many years ago, and enjoyed it as a metaphor for reading/learning, before I knew from whence it originally came. Once I did know (a moment of illumination whose exact placement in time is hazy….), I liked it even more, from an aesthetic standpoint.
The above little ditty, from our old friend Rudyard, is brilliant doggerel, astute observation, and deep insight, all presented in a simple, straightforward style, with a powerful, basic lesson for any would-be philosopher, or any one who wishes to encompass reason as their modus operandi, so to speak. Besides which, I find that another piece of Bob’s advice fits well with this one, to wit: “Life tastes better in big bites….”
“Never wear anything that panics the cat.” — P. J. O’Rourke
I like this, a lot. It summarizes perhaps one of the most elemental rules of getting along in the Universe, in essence saying, “You can learn a lot by watching what happens around you…” It is the perfect companion to the concept of learning as presented above, as it contrives to speak to both sides of Reality, i.e., how you approach reality (the clothing you choose to show to the cat….) and how reality will change to react to your approach (the cat’s opinion of your clothing….)
It also gives one a subtle warning about how the wrong clothing can produce unwanted consequences, and we all know how an offended cat is likely to respond…. as Mark Twain once remarked…. “A man who carries a cat by the tail is learning valuable things. He will never again be dim or doubtful. Chances are he’ll not carry the cat that way again, but, I say, if he wants to, let him!” You can’t say fairer than that….
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” — Buddha
One can always trust the Buddha to state the most profound thoughts in the simplest way…. I often wonder how he came to such a complete understanding of Murphy, whose presence is acknowledged in all of what the Buddha stated, but whose ministrations seem to have passed by the Buddha’s existence…. either that, or Murphy shows him a lot more respect than he does anyone else alive.
At times, it seems that what the Buddha states, such as in this statement, is, in at least one respect, an answer to a question that is raised when Murphy intervenes in our lives…. in simpler words, he explains why Murphy is able to affect us as he does, by cutting through the bullshite we perceive, to the truth of what is real….. SIGH…. one of these days, enlightenment will slap me upside the head, and I’ll be able to see Murphy coming…. I hope…
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.” — Bob Dylan
Often I feel as if not only is life a joke, but it is our duty and purpose on this plane of existence to codify that joke, to put it down on paper, or on screen/disc, to free ourselves from the prison of sobriety, achieving an understanding that everything in this silly universe is here for our amusement, and we have been taking it, and ourselves, seriously for entirely too long…..
So seriously, we have begun to offend those parts of the universe that just want us to relax and enjoy ourselves, and the time is growing nearer when we will have to admit that the joke is on us, for not being able to change our inner selves enough to be able to handle the humor of our situation…. See, the universe thinks death is funny…. not because it is cruel, but because death is just another part of life, and it doesn’t care about one more than the other…. See, now, isn’t it funny how you never noticed that?…..
I once read a science fiction novel, whose title and author escape me completely; in all it was very poorly written, with prose that did not live up to the good ideas contained in the plot line. However, it was a great plot line, in all….Specifically, there was one chapter I liked, which had a super-genius taking on the task of finding the solution to a mathematical treatise, an equation so complex and advanced that no civilization in the galaxy had ever been able to completely solve it.
The genius/hero of the book shut himself up in his room for three weeks, working on the problem. At the end, he was thinking so hard he entered a trance-like state, computing while nearly dead…. after a week of this, he suddenly opened his eyes, gave a look of astonishment, and burst into uncontrollable laughter for approximately 25 minutes. When he could finally control himself, he simply said, “It’s a joke….” and would never discuss it again….
In a pearl such as this one has grown to be, there comes a time when I have to decide whether to continue on, to try to reach the conclusion that was nebulously hovering somewhere in my mind as I began, or to admit that I have once again wandered into uncharted territory, and might find it a bit tricky to find my way back to clarity.
This is that time…. and I’m leaving it up to Smart Bee, as always…. If I don’t find a proper pearl to carry on the tenuous chain of thought I’ve created, then we’ll take the first one that will appropriately wrap it up as a lost cause….. all within a specified number of attempts…. so, here we go… You’ll know in a moment what will happen….
“In a word, neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of this kind is the real cause of our doing or not doing any action, but our inward opinions and principles.” — Epictetus (c. 60 AD) — Discourses, Book i, Chap xi
There, see?…. That didn’t take long at all…. and I managed to find the perfect pearl to cover both bases…. In this case, we will use it as an ending quote, since it sort of summarizes a lot of the discussion, after a fashion. It could conceivably also be used as a springboard for further discussion, but this has gone on long enough, and I wouldn’t want to lose anybody due to an injudicious application of excess verbiage, culminating in tedium…. Of course, we may have reached that point some time ago, but, hey, who’s counting?…. Any who, I hope you enjoyed this little foray into not very much….
I have no excuses, nor apologies, at all…. I have succumbed to the dictates of chosen duty, and done the best I can do to make this an acceptable member of a long line of decently written outbursts of personal angst.
Personally, I think it’s not bad, but, I’m probably not the most appropriate judge of that…. and since nobody has suggested I cease and desist, I’ll keep on keepin’ on, for as long as the impulse to write remains strong and fresh….
Y’all can take that any way you like, as either a promise, or a threat…. either way, it’s true, and I’m outta here for another day…. See ya, ffolkes….
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…
When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.
Which is Why….
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.