Elements, matrices/Snapshots, Films

28 Jan

 

Elements within Matrices/Snapshots within Films      

            Wally Tomosky               4/26/2007        

(An Essay)

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An essay about existentialism in four parts.

Part 1:              Conversations with philosophers from the past.

Part 2:              Elements within Matrices;     

                                     The complexities of the beings that exist.

Part 3:              Snapshots within films;

                                    Why our individual worlds are not inauthentic or trivial events.

Part 4:              Conclusion

                                    How the first three parts, with the edges removed, can be blended into a life philosophy (as defined by a minimalist).

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                        Part 1:         A Discussion with the Masters

 Existentialism appears to be the search for the story about “self.” You philosophical authors, whether academic or popular, always write about the way “beings” fit into the world. Oh yes! You write about the “other” but it is always in relationship to your “self.”

Kierkegaard, you obscurer of your own past! You write about “beings” who have a binding relationship to another individual. You depict how the beings are jeopardized in their special relationship. Yet, in the end and with great faith, the relationship is miraculously restored, never to be lost again. To wit; Abraham and Isaac. But as I delve deeper into your “Fear and Trembling” I discover that you are writing about yourself when younger, about the love that you gave up, about your hope that this love, Regina, will, with faith, return to you forever. It is about you, isn’t it?

Heidegger, you existentialist! And don’t try to renounce that label; you write about an existentialist form called “Dasein.” Indeed, everyone claims to know what your “Dasein” is, but no one appears to have given “Dasein” a clear definition. It is about you, isn’t it? Your own version of yourself and the way you write about how the world must be lived in. “Heidegger’s world, according to Martin.” But now you have forced me to take a detour. The reason is to raise a question regarding your writing style.

I think writing should be clear. It must “say” something. What student would wish to listen to a professor who speaks in the form of pedagogical jargon? What juror would choose to take direction from a judge who gave instructions in pure legalese? What average American worker would follow an executive who would articulate his vision with industrial acro-numbs?

Why then, would a philosopher write in such a way that the reader would have to confer with ten other readers plus an intellectual (who may or may not have any common sense) in order to grasp even a thread of meaning from the philosopher’s work? Philosophy is not the sole purview of intellectuals. It is the purview of man; every man, every woman.

Nietzsche, you little devil! You told us that you wrote for yourself and, that you did not care if the others got it or not. I think you were waving a literary flag of bravado. You made your “Madman” run into the marketplace, carrying a lantern in broad daylight, screaming   .  .  . “Where is God?” This is a striking piece of authorship that reaches down into the bowels of every man. It is a masterpiece that left my brain with a clear image; as if I were there myself. Nietzsche, you clever old dog, you wrote clearly and brilliantly; and nastily, when you felt it was necessary. But not for yourself. You wrote for all of us!

So why, as a man working your way toward madness, could you write clearly, intelligibly and with the ability to grasp other people’s souls, let alone their attention. If you could do it why can not other philosophers? Possibly because they did not want to? Possibly because they had no faith in their philosophy? Possibly because academic authors feared not being accepted by their peers? Why did they have to hide behind an infinite tapestry of gibberish?

You Heidegger! .  .  .  . Maybe Nietzsche’s God did die if a piece of twisted language like your creations can be read and comprehended. It does not excite the mind or soul of man. It is a struggle just to understand a single sentence. The concepts may be great philosophy but the path to this knowledge is unnecessarily brutal and tortured. A great philosopher, thinking great thoughts about mankind can not simply write this way unintentionally. You must have written that way on purpose; at least with forethought, if not malice. Let us review a few sample sentences (literary and penal form) from “Being and Time.”

“Listening to .  .  . Is Dasein’s existential way of Being-open as Being-with for Others. Indeed, hearing constitutes the primary and authentic way in which Dasein is open for its own most potentiality-for-Being  — as in hearing the voice of the friend who every Dasein carries with it. Dasein hears, because it understands. As a Being-in-the-world with Others, a Being which understands, Dasein is ‘in thrall’ to Dasein-with and to itself; and in this thralldom it ‘belongs’ to these.”

 

Pretty heavy stuff?  I think not. Pretty obscure stuff is more like it. Poor you, Herr Doktor Professor Heidegger. Your most salient points are lost to the majority of humanity. But I must question my own last statement. Were they lost only to the majority of humanity or were they lost to a majority of intellectuals also? Maybe so. But we will never get them to admit it. I should be quick to add that we shouldn’t just pick on you and make Herr Nietzsche, hiding over there in his sister’s house, the hero of this essay.

You, Herr Nietzsche, were not my hero when I read your “Antichrist.” You did a superb job at making, even Christians, understand that something is amiss with St. Paul, the concept of judgment, self-denial, and having God to blame for all our problems; a God that allows throwing all our sins overboard with the expectation that they will show up in the apostle’s nets as wholesome fish.  Thank you for making it clear that I am responsible for my own actions.

However brilliant your first sections (1 – 45) of “The Antichrist” are, you obviously had a priapism for Christians in the second sections (46 – 62). This is displayed by a faux intellectual bout of anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, anti-Polish, excretions of the mind indelibly carved in your biography by your own pen. May I review a few examples from the opening of the section in question, section forty-six?

            “You should put gloves on before picking up the New Testament.”

“We would not want to associate with the ‘first Christians’ any more than with the Polish Jews; .  .  . Neither of them smells good.”

Brilliant words my dear Nietzsche. If you had not accomplished such a great feat in your first forty-five sections I would have written you off completely. However, you do save grace by stating a European repeat that many other philosophers have agreed with or stated prior to you. That is; we are responsible for our own actions; we can not blame them on God.

And right there, “responsible for our own actions”, is where European philosophy and American philosophy join hands. Other than that it appears as though the Americans were more candid in their writing style. Europeans were frightful and unnecessarily couched in theirs. I am going into the American Room and will allow you, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger, to remain in the European Room. There you can think thoughts for thought’s own ends.  Discuss things with Husserl for a few hours. Maybe you can learn something from him. Auf wiedersehen.

Hi Ayn. Somehow I knew you would be in the American Room. I like “Rand’s Objectivist Philosophy.”  Nothing hidden there. Your four main points Objective Reality, Reason, Self-interest and Capitalism are logically and optically 20/20. No need to look through trick philosophical reading glasses. No convoluted or minced words; just a straight-up synopsis of the world that we beings must deal with. I really liked your speeches and essays in “Philosophy; who needs it?” Too bad it was assembled after you died; but, it was all you. Typically brash, confident and to the point! But I must say that your self confidence should really be tempered with forethought about the range of people you are talking to. “Elements within matrices and snapshots within films” will help you understand that.

My title, “Elements within Matrices/Snapshots within films”, seems to make no sense but hopefully I can explain it to you. It is really about the beings in “Being and Time.” No, not Heidegger’s version of beings; my version. I hope to be clearer than Heidegger, .  .  .  . and more extro-spective  than you .  .  . .  . .  Ms. Rand. However I must review something I learned from Husserl. That is; be careful of what you believe that you may perceive for it could simply be mental residue, the ashes of memories. To visit Husserl I must go back into the European Room.

Herr Husserl! Your writing of “The Basic Approach of Phenomenology” pp. 60 – 72, gave us several insights regarding thought and perception when considering our spatial and temporal world. Your discussions compare how we experience the observable “natural attitude” and symbolic “arithmetical attitude” as well as the differences between a “studied” non-actionable object and an “actionable” thought. Another great concept introduces us to “parenthesizing”, the holding of a known belief in suspension. And your final pages involve the concept of how the “residue” of previous experiences may “fill in” those things that we did not actually encounter. That is, the “broken section” of the observation or experience would be “filled in” with the variations and permutations of what we previously had observed, possibly in a separate situation prior to the “breaking.”

You, my dear Husserl, take the time to review, remind and teach us how we internalize our natural world and how it is always “there” for us if we choose to study an object or being. You remind us of our misty “horizons” of perception and the various values we assign to objects and beings.  You introduce us to “cogito” as the field of thoughts as opposed to “cogitatum” which are the object(s) being thought about. Only then do you discuss our ability to suspend our ingrained or idealistic knowledge in order to reflect upon things in a completely new manner.

Husserl, you logical and objective thinker, you ask us to consider a two sided experiment where we utilize an object in its surroundings. You follow that by asking us to focus on the object itself in order to consider the variations in color and texture of the object. By doing this we learn the difference of how we think about an object as it is used in our general mental field of thought and then as a specific item with values. The second part of your experiment makes us understand that we, absentmindedly, “fill in” our thinking about an experience with what we have as “residue” from our previous experiences. This residue contains a fine granularity of combinations and permutations that give a sense of reality to the “filled in” experience.

Husserl, you make the point that this residue could be what we use as or may be mistaken for basic human instinct. Whatever it is, we use it to synthesize or supplement actual experiences. We are also convinced, as the individuals who conjure up these residual “experiences”, of their complete validity; whether, in reality, they are true or not.

Residue memory may fill in what you really do not see or know. Appearances and clothing may lead you to believe things about people that are false. This renders your conclusions phenomenally and metaphysically weak.          

So what does this all have to do with elements within matrices and snapshots within films? Let us see how well I do. I have taken a poke at the great philosophers and now it is my turn to be judged. Remember, I said that we should talk to the layman; so let me explain elements and matrices.

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                                        Elements found within Matrices.

 An element is a single piece of information. It may be a letter, it may be a number, it may be a symbol representing most anything. Most importantly it is one single item, one single thing.

 Now we have to think about boxes. To do this let us picture a square drawn on a piece of paper. Facebook is not so hot on handling a matrix or matrices so you have to imagine a little box drawn around each number or character below.

 Within that square let us put an element. Let us choose from the numbers 1, 2, 3 or 4.

  What have we done? Not much, just created a 1 by 1 matrix with the element three placed inside. Big deal! But now we have an idea of what a matrix is and what an element is.  Let us get a little fancier and create a four by four matrix containing all the numbers we had to select from.

 

 Now we really have a much better concept of a matrix with multiple elements. Notice that I placed the numeric symbols in a random fashion within the matrix. That is how our world is; rather random with some patterns at times.

 What’s next? Let us look at two separate matrix better known (in the plural) as matrices. And let us not limit ourselves to numbers. Maybe there are other symbols that appear in our world.

 

Oops!  One matrix sets behind the other; like pages in a book. And we can not see what one of the elements is in one matrix. That element is located behind the “3” in the other matrix. Please note that the elements in the first matrix do not have the same positions as before. Things are getting a little more random.

What would happen if we used a 75 by 75 matrix? That would give us 5,625 elements

Even worse, what if we had several of these matrices lined up 75 deep like 75 pages in a book? That would give us almost a half million elements. Let us go one step farther. What if we had a set of books with 75 volumes? That would appear as 75 x 75 x 75 x 75 or a total of over 31 million elements (31,640,625 to be exact). I believe that is about one tenth of the population of the United States. “But,” you say, “elements are not people or ‘beings’ (as the great philosophers would call them).” I agree. However, elements could be used to represent people. That is exactly what we are doing here. We are building a model that represents people. Oh, excuse me; I meant a model that represents “beings.”

 On with the progression. So, if one element represents one person we are quite OK with that. Let us say that the one person is a grandfather. Then a two element matrix could represent a coupled pair; Grandma and Grandpa. Back in those days families were large. Just for the sake of argument let us agree that there were four siblings on the grandmother’s side and four on the grandfather’s side. Let us also assume that three of the siblings on each side were married. That means we have identified sixteen people (or beings). This allows us to symbolize each one as an element within a matrix. Again, for arguments sake, let us assume that (with each generation) families were becoming smaller. Each of the married Grand folks had only four children. Again, not to overstate the case, let us agree that only three children from each family ended up getting married. That is another twenty-eight elements (people or beings). We have now filled in forty-four squares within the matrix. Not wanting to kill ourselves over the math let us agree that the remaining thirty one elements were filled in with children not yet married?

 Not to bad so far. But we have simply modeled an extended family or clan. You have the point by now. We just filled in the top row, 75 elements, of a matrix that could represent a clan. The elements represent men, ladies, boys and girls of all ages. Each one holds a specific place in the top row. Let me make one more assumption (since it is my model and not yours). This clan lives in upstate New York.

 Now fill in the second row with elements representing 75 beings. This represents another clan of the same size. In fact, place the beings of likeness in the same positions underneath the first row. For example; Grandma Smith in the second row fits in right beneath Grandma Kurtz in the first row. Little Johnny in the first row fits in right under little Joey in the first row. Uncle Ned in the second row fits in right under Uncle Bob in the first row. Etc.. The only difference is that this second row clan lives in down state New Jersey.

 We now have two rows filled in with two clans. Let us fill in the remaining 73 rows with clans from California, Quebec, Schwabischland, Poland, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Guinea, Iran, China, Baden-Württemberg and any other places you would like to imagine. We now have just completed our 75 x 75 matrix (or first page if you prefer that mental image). Do the same thing for the other 74 pages and 75 volumes. Or just imagine it done; that is a lot easier.

 Now also imagine, if you will, that we can look at one element on the top page and see through all the same positional elements other pages and books. What we see are all the varieties of Grandmas. Look at another element and we can see all the varieties of Uncles, or little Johnnies, or whoever.

 But wait a minute. Some of the Grandmas are white, some brown, some yellow, some black. The same goes for all the other elements that sit one behind the other. Some of the Uncles eat beef, some eat swine, some eat spattzle, some eat houloupki, and some eat bugs. There are little Johnnies who wear lederhosen, some who wear reindeer skins, some who wear denim pants, and others who wear nothing.

 What is the sameness of all the above? We can depend on the phenomena of sight to sort out the differences. What about the differences that we can not see? There may be ladies with different gender preferences for a mate. Same goes for the guys. And some people have no discrimination in selecting a gender for sexual preferences. I guess it depends on the time of day. We did not increase the size of our 75 x 75 x 75 x 75 matrices but we sure complicated it. And how about political preferences? Some liberals. Some conservatives. Some fence sitters. Some real independents. We have not discussed the mothers. Some working. Some at home. Some part timers. Damn matrix is getting too messy to handle. Let us just leave it there.

 So, without getting out of control we have created a nice set of matrices representing beings; most genders, most preferences, lots of variety. Some differences in beings are obvious, some hidden, some unknown; even to themselves. Please remember though that we have only represented a number of people almost equal to one-tenth the population of the United States. To be fair we should do this for the whole world. Once again, I will just leave that as an exercise to boggle your imagination. It is really not necessary for our purposes here.

 What can we do with this matrix? Can we use it to exercise Husserl’s point? Can we use it to temper Rand’s rigidity?  Can we use it to take the confusion out of Heidegger? Can we use it to learn how to build a philosophical point? I think we can do all of that.

 Let us go back to the point where I asked you to look at one element. That grandma on the first row of the first matrix is pretty close to your grandma I bet. So are all the uncles and cousins. But the clans on the second row don’t appear quite as clear. By time you get to the last row of the first matrix you have no idea what you are looking at. Now go back to grandma and imagine looking through all 75 pages and 75 volumes. Can’t pull a picture together for the last grandma? I can understand that. You can’t even imagine where she was from!

 But what if I told you that she was a grandmother that had a few farm animals just like your grandmother had? Or what if I told you that she was an immigrant just like your grandmother? Or what if I told you she worked in a fabric mill just like your grandmother did. Or what if I told you she only finished fourth grade just like your grandmother did. Did I tell you she was married before her sixteenth birthday? Well she was!

 So if your grandmother was born in a small factory or mill town in Pennsylvania and married at an early age you may have a pretty good idea of what this last grandma looked like. Surprise! The last grandma had a few llamas, her fabric mill was a ball of twine and a spinning weight, she immigrated from one mountain village to another, and her skin no longer showed a natural color because the sun and wind had turned it to leather.

 We have not yet considered the granularity of beings. Let us do that right now. Lets take the granularity of IQ. We will consider the range from 50 to 150 for the Intelligence Quotient. We will select only one hundred of the ‘Little Roberts” in our matrices. Let us set the IQ for the first Robert at 50 and then increase the point level by one for each of the remaining 99 Roberts. We now have a nice granularity of intelligence when we consider all these little Roberts.

 Going to the next step let us imagine that we have them play a game of tag in the school yard. Now that they are no longer arranged by IQ let us line them up in a random manner. Let us assign a level of “family love” to every little Robert in the line starting with the one on the left. That Robert has been given good guidance with a minimal amount of discipline by his father. His mother checks his homework and assists him when necessary. His big brother ensures that no bullies pick on him at school and his little sister thinks he is the icing on the cake. This Robert is well adjusted and confident.

 The next Robert in the line has a loving mother, brother and sister. However, his dad wants little Robert to be perfect. And so he constantly cajoles him about his actions and has partially damaged little Roberts self-image.

 The next Robert has learned to control his mother and also knows how to pit his mother against his father. He escapes punishment for wrongdoing by initiating family arguments between mom and dad. His sister is as intelligent as he is and quickly sees what is going on, so, she hates little Robert.

 Little Robert number three is extremely shy. This is the result of being adopted. He has some vague memories about being beaten prior to the adoption but does not clearly recall it. The memories are more of an instinctive reaction rather than a recollection. His mother does not understand him but remains overprotective. His sister now plays second fiddle in the family so she has withdrawn also. Dad feels as though he was roped into the agreement of the adoption so he hates the situation and is starting to hate the whole family. Robert #3 regresses. And so the exercise continues for the remaining 97 little Roberts.

 We now have 100 little Roberts with varying degrees of intelligence and varying degrees of angst. Each one has a combination of intelligence and angst that pulls his mind and actions one way or the other. On top of that each one has his own set of genes. Each one has his own health issues; from chronic ear aches, to infantile polio, to malnutrition, to obesity, to malformed limbs, to super human strength, to an excellent constitution to etc.. There are the little blondes whose mommy tells them they are beautiful (and spoiled), there are little redheads who feel they are constantly ogled by the overcurious, there are those with dark black ringlets who only need to wash their hair and never comb it. There are varying degrees of whiteness, brownness, yellowness, redness and pinkness to their skins. There are those without schooling, those with some schooling, and even those with religious schooling (some beneficial and some dangerous). And these hundred little Roberts are scattered throughout the matrices with other little boys and girls with similar functionality, dis-functionality, mal-functionality and null-functionality. How are we ever to think about them? How are we ever to give thought to any of them without really understanding their situation?

 So what did we prove? Only that Husserl was correct. We need to use a residue of memory from one situation to fill in for what we do not know or understand about another situation. We also proved true what Ayn Rand says about observation. We can not really know anything until we have observed it and given it a satisfactory amount of conscious thought. With enough observations and cogitations we gain a more realistic picture of our selves and our surroundings. However, we must be careful about beings and events that we fill in with our residual memory. And what have we done to Heidegger? We have shown that humanizing and studying individual beings gives us a clearer picture than identifying them with things like “thrownness”, “everydayness” or “spatiality of the ‘world’.”

 What if we removed several of our groups of family clans from the matrices and replaced them with groups that had strict ideals? Groups like politicians, jurists, organized religions, capitalist executives and all of the minions of the above groups? Sloganism, jingoism, dogmatism and lots of other – – isms would be the norm in group discussions. What if you were a capitalist minion? Would you be a free thinker or have meiosis of the mind? We would all like to shout “Free Thinker.” But look at what Kierkegaard said about the wild ducks. I paraphrase here but it was something like “Keep on feeding them and they no longer go south, they no longer dip and search for food, they are no longer wild ducks.”

 No lesser a capitalist executive than IBM’s Tom Watson Jr. quoted Kierkegaard. Watson pleaded with his employees to remain wild ducks. I paraphrase his message; “Do not let the corporate world tame your great ideas.” Watson’s organization was the epitome of a well honed corporate structure. Why would he say something against his own method of structuring a capitalist entity? Because he saw what was happening to a great corporation when idealism sets in. Everyone was becoming “vanilla.” Key executives were more comfortable in killing new ideas than taking the risk of pushing them forward. Allow me to call on Ayn Rand again.

 The following is an excerpt from Rand’s “Philosophy: Who Needs it”, pg. 202, Ayn Rand’s collection of Newsletters and Speeches. This essay was written about the “Establishing of an Establishment” through the mechanism of government grants to institutions of research. Let me change a few words and see how it fits the old IBM.

            “Now observe that these grants [funded projects] were given to senior researchers, that they were ‘plums’  ‘fellowships’- as The New Republic [IBM rag] called them coyly and cynically – ‘for scientific leaders.’ How would Washington bureaucrats [fifth level managers]- or Congressmen [senior executives], for that matter –   know which scientist to encourage, particularly in so controversial [complex] a field as social [computer] science? The safest method is [was] to choose men who have achieved some sort of reputation. Whether their reputation is deserved or not, whether their achievements are valid or not, whether they rose by merit, pull, publicity or accident, are questions which the awarders [executives and comptrollers] do not and cannot consider. When personal judgment is inoperative (or forbidden), men’s first concern is not how to choose, but how to justify their choice. This will necessarily prompt committee[s] members, [industrial strength] bureaucrats and [executive level] politicians to gravitate toward ‘prestigious names. [safe choices]’ The result is to help establish those already established – i.e., to entrench the status quo.”

And that status quo is what almost sunk IBM

 So although we, again, would like to identify ourselves as “free thinkers” there are a hell of a lot of sheep out there. We say and do things to help ourselves; we compromise. We say and do things to help others; we socialize. We say and do things to make our world more interesting; we romanticize. We say and do things to strengthen a cause; we politicize. We say and do things to help us remain honest; we moralize. And after every ‘being’ (every element) in the matrices does all this compromising, socializing, romanticizing, politicizing and moralizing what do we have? One big multilevel matrix that is spinning like an out of control kaleidoscope; that is what we have.

 Now take these millions and millions of boxes of elements and let them steep; like a good tea. {I will explain why in the next section.} What do we end up with?  We have matrices within matrices; and no two grandmas or little Roberts line up any more.  There are no texts or essays that can explain, collectively, any “condition of beings.” There are no texts or essays that can be applied towards a pat answer as to how or why the world of beings works.  The world just works;         for now!

 And if that is not confusing enough just think about the angel’s response to Abraham when he did not hesitate to kill Isaac. The angel said “for now I know that you fear God.”  Does that “for now” mean that, for the time being, God was pleased with Abraham or did that “for now” mean that as of that moment God finally knew Abraham’s heart?  God knows all so it must have been the “all options remain open” version. I bet that kept Abraham on his toes. This ends the “Being” part of this essay.

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                                    Snapshots found within Films

We have seen how confusing it would get if we tried to take all of the people in the world and apply modern or postmodern philosophic premises towards them. It simply would not work. People are too complex. The societies they live in are too complex. The ideals that organizations develop are very strong and hard to overcome. No single premise holds true for all people, all societies, all organizations, and definitely not for all sociopaths and megalomaniacs; of which there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions). So what do we do? Let us look at one individual. It could be your grandmother, mother, father or yourself. I suggest ‘yourself’ because you know that person the best (or at least you think you do).

 Place yourself in a favorite setting. Maybe it is a back yard, a forest, a sports bar, a peaceful trout stream, or a family party. Stand back and take a snapshot of yourself. BLINK goes the flash and that is it! You are all done. Captured in a pixelarry maze or in a silver amalgam (if you are still using film).

 And there you are, standing in someone’s driveway, all smiles. Authentic? Maybe yes, maybe no. If inauthentic do you really know it? Are you aware that you are putting on a smile?

 In the end it really matters very little. Why? Because look behind you. There is an auto. It was produced by thousands of people. The iron miner, the smelter, the mold maker, the man who ran those heavy smelly fire-breathing presses that formed the hood, fenders and etc.. There was the designer, the painter, the assembler, the salesman, the dealership owner, the state license plate maker, the oil driller, the gasoline refiner, the service station (the oxymoron appears unexpectedly) owner, and  the middle managers who claim to be the glue that holds all this together.

 What else is in the background? A house! The forest owner, the lumber man, the saw mill operator, the trucker, the railroad carrier, the carpenter, the plaster mason, the hardware factory, the hardware packers, the shippers, the salesmen (again?), the hardware and lumber store and the middlemen who earn their profits between every level.

 Mira  .  .  .mira  .  .  .see the lawn behind you! The day-laborers tending the lawn, the garden, cleaning the gutters, hauling away your garbage, picking your fruits and vegetables.

 How many of these people think as you do? The lumber man who risks injury from falling trees, the salesman who does his best to be authentic but can not (if he hopes to sell anything), the plaster mason who has some horrible lung disease from breathing powder all day. Do any of them think the same way you do? Oh sure, for some subjects they do and for others they do not.

 So there you stand  .  .  .  . the center of this nice photograph. But you do not stand alone. In fact there are other parts of your life that are not in this photograph. There are parts of the other people’s lives (those who do not stand in the photograph but their work products do) that do not show up in the photographs either. “And”, you ask, “What is the point?”

 The point is that you are looking at a snapshot. But you, as a “being” have a life that is not a snapshot; it is a time exposure or film. Where does that snapshot show you as a child? Where does it show that large grin when you rode your first bicycle? Where does it show the pride of those first crayon drawings of the family, your house, “Sparky” your dog? Where does it show your big day at the Senior Prom? Where does it show your wedding day? Where does it show your children when they were small? Where does it show them as they became adults?       It doesn’t.

 So how do we do show all those points along your life? A series of snapshots may suffice for some people but a film of their lives would do much better. This introduces us to the concept of snapshots within films, or; of “Time” in philosophy. Heidegger had the basics absolutely correct. “Being and Time” are the two metaphysical items that makes up our individual and collective worlds. Beings (as metaphysical bits and pieces of individuals) are those within the matrices. These are what we really need to understand. Time, as the great leveler (or separator) allows these individuals to grow (or shrink) their abilities. Ayn Rand’s philosophy centers on the abilities; or rather she centers on those who are able, those who take their abilities to the zenith. Time is important. It lends an artistic touch to our lives while giving it a reality. Whether we reach Rand’s zeniths or not, time is really the essence of being. Our essence is not given at birth, our essence is earned.

 And so we have this world with billions of different individuals. Some of them from the mountains of New Guinea, some from Italy, some from China and some from Australia. Some of them are all shades of white and some are all shades of brown. Some of them think in terms of black and white and some of them think in all shades of gray. Some of them are tolerant of the faults or oversights of others. Some of them can not make adjustments for others thoughts. Some of them take pride in their accomplishments (large and small) and others see accomplishment as evil. Some of them have talents to soothe or entertain and some of them have talents that direct or control. Some of the directors are fair with the rewards and some of the directors are selfish to a fault.

 With that said, let us consider “Time” for each of the individuals within the matrices. The complexity of our world is a film within each element. These millions of matrices within matrices boggle the mind. How could we have the ego, self-centeredness and audacity to put forward philosophies that purport to give answers for all people? It is an impossibility. We must choose philosophies that deal with the world of individuals, philosophies that make adjustments for the variations.

 Rand’s philosophy of self-interest and capitalism was very timely but too harsh. Nietzsche’s philosophy was also timely but centered only on the concept of the modern ones who were killing God. Kierkegaard’s philosophy was very timely; especially when he considered the dichotomies of his own life. Heidegger’s philosophy was timely, especially when you consider its obscure tone-lessness during the period preceding Nazism.

 So whose philosophy do we look to? If we are considering the western philosophies I still think that the Abrahmesque philosophies hold the most truth. The Ten Commandments set some boundaries but we have to eliminate the God-awful myriad of details that the rabbis heaped on top of these basic ten. Jesus’ concept of treating all people like equals (love thy brother) was good until some followers expanded it into extreme self-sacrifice and self-denial (inauthentic at best). Mohammed’s concept of being a friend and protector of the sick and the poor held great promise until the radicals decided to kill the sick and the poor. So it is back to the basics.

 Because we all originated in an environment where survival was key to our being we needed to be constantly reminded to “not kill”, “not steal”, “not covet”, etc.. This reminder helped us to raise ourselves beyond ourselves. This was the key to forming the solid community of the first people of Abraham; father of our major three religions. Therefore, obey the commandments.

 Because everyone does not (or can not) acquire the same knowledge, avoid the same diseases, make the right decisions, have the same physical strengths, radiate the same beauty, or reach the correct analysis; then we are not all equal in all things. But that did not keep the second people of Abraham from watching out for each other. Therefore, love thy brother.

 And when we forgot to obey the commandments and love thy brother another set of rules originated within the third people of Abraham. Therefore, be a friend and protector of the sick, the widowed and the poor.

 But do we forget about improving ourselves? No! Rand had a point. Do we forget about understanding ourselves? No! Heidegger had a point. Do we forget about being critical of ourselves? No! Husserl had a point. Do we forget about enjoying the beauty and freedom of life? No! Kierkegaard had a point. Do we forget about the righteous instincts of man? No! Nietzsche had a point. However we have avoided one great author and philosopher who appears in the conclusion of this essay. I believe he gave us a simple philosophy that works for people within a community, a tribe, a village, a clan, a cult, an industry, a church, but maybe not for the hermit, the megalomaniac or the sociopathic.

                                                            *    *    *    *

                                                            Conclusion

What if we asked all men and women to remain clear minded and have the courage of their convictions when faced by adversity? This adversity can be overwhelming when encountering the edgy opinions of others. To ask these courageous people to stand their ground would be also asking that they take responsibility for their decisions. In addition these people may also be asked to allow room for other’s viewpoints. Why? Because these viewpoints may be very valid in the other’s world. However, they may not be valid in the world of reality. This would be a tough situation.

 If other people’s viewpoints are valid in their minds, but possibly not in the world of reality, then these others must protect themselves in the eyes of society. How would they do that? By “talking up” their side of the story and discrediting the courageous ones. I believe it was Heidegger who used several pages to define this “inauthentic” personality. That also was Husserl’s point; be careful of what you fill in with residual memories.

 Courageous people also see things for what they are, not for what they want them to be. In other words these people can create a plan or vision. But more importantly they allow themselves to make changes to these visions, plans, or the process which allows them to reach the goal. They do not daydream and think it is something that will just happen. They think the vision through and then act on it. Ayn Rand referred to these people as “men of ability.” Nietzsche called them “men of strength.”

 Sometimes, as will happen, the words and deeds of these courageous people are used against them. They do not wince or run away from adversity. They face it down. They move on to the next task at hand. They do not quit when they appear beaten. They identify their errors and correct them. They do not whine when others around them fail. They help those others up and encourage them to succeed.

 And when sometimes, as will happen, the deeds of these courageous people succeed, when faced with accolades of others, they do not preen and strut. They voice a humble “thank you” and move on to the next task; just like they moved on when things did not quite go right. So who boiled this all down into a small group of words, a philosophy that everyone could understand?

It was: Rudyard Kipling.

                                                                IF

If you can keep your head when all about you,

        are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

        but make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

        or being lied about, don’t deal in lies;

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

        and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,

        if you can think – – – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,

        and treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken,

        twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

        and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,

        and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss;

And lose, and start again at your beginnings,

        and never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,

        to serve your turn long after they are gone;

And so hold on when there is nothing in you,

        except the Will which says to them – – – ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

        Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

        if all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute,

        with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run;

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

        and – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

 

© Copyright – Waldo Tomosky

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