Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Material Expression of Love

Are you attracted to people with money / power? If you had money or power, would you use it to enhance your own popularity?

But you can’t just love someone because he or she is rich. That’s too boring and simple. Love has to be more meaningful than that.

Hmm, but that’s what Marx was writing about when he says that money “confounds and confuses all things.” Attraction based on material power is vulgar and boring, but based on spiritual power is the essence of love. Love is spiritual in essence, which is to say that it should be built from the abstract, not from material considerations.

But Giegerich says that’s what Incarnation is about, too--the transition of God from spirit to matter. [ Technology and the Soul ] What does the Incarnation in this sense mean? Is love, too, seeking a material, rather than abstract, basis?

Could the realization of socialism be called the material expression of love, and thus the completion of God’s project of Incarnation? Marx calls socialism, which for him implies the elimination of money, the realization of “man as man.” But is socialism not also the realization of “love as love”?

Should other people’s sexual practices be kept separate from their public identity as a general rule? It seems to me, yes. In general, it should be considered improper to discuss other people’s sexual practices (which is separate from sexual orientation or gender-identity). A person’s sexual practices (i.e. their sexual identity) should belong to the private individual and be made public only by individual autonomous choice. Otherwise, love as attraction based on material power/influence creeps back in.

The Incarnation of God, i.e. the material expression of love, can only be fully expressed on the social level. (As Carl Jung tells us, the Jesus in the Gospels is more God than man.) Because on the individual level, due to our individual differences, the distribution of love’s power can never be equal--i.e. some people’s bodies have predetermined material advantages compared to other people’s. On the individual level, love based on material power is disastrous and leads to inevitable jealousies. But on the social level, the material expression of love (i.e. the realization of Socialism) is achievable and sustainable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On the Over-reliance on Symbol and Image

Symbols are only meaningful when they produce some real benefit. The danger is that symbols  become substitutes for life-experience, rather than serving their purpose of guiding us to richer experiences.
Stephen Wolfram is doing ground-breaking work on this topic by using computers to model how simple rules can describe the behavior of complex systems. The field is called “Computational Irreducibility.”
Examples of computational reducibility and irreducibility in the evolution of cellular automata. The first two rules yield simple repetitive computationally reducible behavior in which the outcome after many steps can readily be deduced without tracing each step. The third rule yields behavior that appears to be computationally irreducible, so that its outcome can effectively be found only by explicitly tracing each step.
From his book, A New Kind of Science:
“In traditional science it has usually been assumed that if one can succeed in finding definite underlying rules for a system then this means that ultimately there will always be a fairly easy way to predict how the system will behave. “Several decades ago chaos theory pointed out that to have enough information to make complete predictions one must in general know not only the rules for a system but also its complete initial conditions.
“But now computational irreducibility leads to a much more fundamental problem with prediction. For it implies that even if in principle one has all the information one needs to work out how some particular system will behave, it can still take an irreducible amount of computational work actually to do this.” [ pg. 739 ]
Why is this significant? It’s about our entire approach to science--is what matters the symbols and equations? Or the scientific thinking that those tools are designed to enrich?

First a little history:  In the second half of the 19th century, James Maxwell’s successful implementation of advanced, formal mathematics in the theory that light was just a part of a bigger spectrum had led to the discovery of X-rays and radio waves. By the turn of the 20th century, the mathematical community was left feeling invincible. Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead were working on the crown jewel--Principia Mathematica, which would compile all logical truth into one axiomatized system. Their attempt ultimately failed, as Kurt Godel logically and formally proved with his Incompleteness Theorem. Godel showed that even with the basic axioms of arithmetic [ the Natural Numbers and two operations of addition ( the rule a+0=a ) and multiplication ( a*0=0 ) ], there are holes even in these axioms--true statements that cannot possibly be proven. The axioms imply the vast majority of true statements in this system , but not all. Hence Incompleteness.

For any field of logic, there are two systems at work: 1. the rule that manufactures all possible statements; 2. the rule that manufactures all possible proofs. The assumption traditionally was that there would be as many correct proofs as there were true statements. Godel proved this could not possibly be the case in traditional arithmetic on the natural numbers.

Computational Irreducibility takes it a step further, claiming that sometimes, the idea of formal proofs is completely unnecessary and meaningless. Wolfram is claiming that often, worrying about proving the truth of statements from the axioms is pointless to begin with! Proofs are only meaningful when they provide us with shortcuts. Otherwise, the behavior of the system is computationally irreducible, and the proofs are just as complicated as recreating the whole system, and therefore meaningless as predictors. In this way, Computational Irreducibility represents the completion of what Godel started--thought freed from its over-reliance on symbol.

The task of our age is to free thought from symbol and image--not just in mathematics, but in religion, economics, politics, etc.--preferably without violence and nuclear bombs, but it could always come to that, if we fail to find another way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Poetry

The act of poetry is always ultimately rooted in our behavior. To try to separate them completely--to keep poetry confined within the realms of emotions and images--in the end, would be to kill poetry, the fundamental goal of which is to translate our behavior into an insight, which can change the original behavior.

There are steps that must come in between, however. The complete process is:
1. Behavior to Emotions
2. Emotions to Images
3. Images to Thought / insight

Analysis of Sylvia Plath's poem, "Daddy":

"You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe"

This line is about emotions to images. Sylvia feels the black shoe formality of business and economics is wrong for her.

"In which I have lived like a foot For thirty years, poor and white, Barely daring to breathe or Achoo."
Behavior to emotion. feeling Suffocated.

"At twenty I tried to die And get back, back, back to you. I thought even the bones would do. But they pulled me out of the sack, And they stuck me together with glue."
Behavior to emotion. Why did she try to die? Because of nostalgia for her father. To get a response--any response--from him.

"And then I knew what to do. I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampf look And a love of the rack and the screw. And I said I do, I do."
Insight leads to behavior. But this section is really about translating that behavior into emotion and image. "Meinkampf look and a love of the rack and the screw--pretty much says all you need to know about how she felt about her husband.

"So daddy, I'm finally through. The black telephone's off at the root, The voices just can't worm through. If I've killed one man, I've killed two."
Here we have images into thought. Slvia has killed the internal images of the men in her life. They no longer own her.

"There's a stake in your fat black heart And the villagers never liked you. They are dancing and stamping on you. They always knew it was you. Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through."
Back to emotion into images. Sylvia's life is a village, that had been ruled by her father until the villagers ended his tyranny.