Philosophy


Philosophy and Psychology and Social Issues15 May 2015 06:35 pm

When putting together a list of the greatest inventions of humankind, the wheel is always near the top. The wheel is considered to be one the most versatile and important tools used in a host of settings. Along with the lever, the wheel is best known for its ability to assist us in getting work done. A fraction of the amount of work and effort is involved by wheeling things around as opposed to lifting and carrying. Almost every form of human transport whether it be used for work, commerce or battle involves machines utilizing the wheel. The wheel has deserved the title of being the most essential and basic tool in human labor and in our ability to do work, efficiently, safely and quickly.

While the wheel is the quintessential symbol of work, the ball is the most familiar and ubiquitous tool of play. We humans never tire of kicking, throwing, batting, dribbling, striking, hitting, paddling, spinning and rolling balls. Many games and sports involve contacting the ball directly while others hit the ball with an utensil specifically designed for the game or activity. While balls and spheres can be used for work as well as play, they are generally associated with play.

One could make a case for the ball being just as useful as the wheel, and just as prevalent in the lives of every person. Yet, the fact that the ball is equated with play as in “having a ball” or “take me out to the ball game”, and the wheel with work as in “have your shoulder to the wheel” makes the wheel seem more important. Our society has a tendency to glorify and value work while belittling play as being trite and superficial.

Yet, when one looks at the fight for survival in the animal kingdom play is just as important as work. Each predator and prey spends the bulk of their childhood learning their basic survival skill set through play. Human children too spend the bulk of their developmental years learning the basic skills of being human through play. Play dominates learning, growing and development in humans and animals. Play also is at the center of bonding and relationship building in all societies be they human or animal.

The typical ball is a sphere, a complete three-dimensional globe measuring 360 degrees. If you were to strip away a good portion of a ball leaving a narrow tread you would be left with a ball. In essence a wheel is just a mutilated ball with a relatively narrow tread. While a ball is able to go in any direction with complete ease, the wheel can only go backward and forward and needs specific steering mechanism to alter its course.

A wheel is linear and predictable and, therefore, ideal for work and repetitive tasks. A ball is omnidirectional and spontaneous and perfect for play and inventiveness. Our culture’s bias favoring work while viewing play as trivial or something one outgrows is what prevents the ball from being viewed as an important invention or human accomplishment. I for one think that work is overrated and that play is truly an essential ingredient in the quality of life and human fulfillment.

So stop being a fifth wheel, and start having a ball.

Philosophy30 Oct 2014 10:59 pm

The experience of pleasure has played a key role in human history and development. Pleasure is crucial to our desire for sex, food, friendships, community, and appreciation of nature and our environment. Pleasure is the template for happiness, joy and meaning.

In general pleasure has guided us towards things that insure our survival such as sex and food, and fosters our desire for friendship, community and appreciation of nature and our environment. Displeasure and pain on the other hand guide us away from things which endanger, injure, poison, disable us or restrict our quality of life.

Pleasure is at the core of our ability to both survive and to thrive. Throughout human history pleasure has led us towards life affirming behavior, while pain has averted us from life threatening and destructive events.

Non-sentient and even molecular life seems to have mechanisms that promote pleasure and survival and avert pain and extinction. The vestiges or precursors to pleasure are visible in the reflex reaction of a cell’s shrinking back from a dangerous or foreign substance and gravitating or incorporating a life affirming stimuli or substance.

While the pleasure/pain economy has been very efficient, it is by no means an infallible or perfect mechanism. Adaptations to dramatic or novel changes in the environment can trick the pleasure mechanism or cause it to fail in its ability to avoid or adapt to life threatening situations and events.

Our pleasure and pain economy does have a learning curve and since it is structured in our nervous system and body often takes generations to successfully adapt and incorporate new tastes in pleasure and pain. Just as our immune system takes time to adapt to a new germ, virus or bacteria to which we are being exposed.

We have pain and pleasure thresholds, in which both have acceptable ranges. We have all had the experience of a pleasurable experience being taken to excess in which the pleasurable experience crosses the threshold and becomes unpleasant if not painful.

Pain too often has a threshold that once passed we either lose consciousness or our body discharges powerful anesthetics into our system. Yet, our threshold of pain often provides us a warning system that offers us opportunities to improve our health or widen our capacities. The pain involved in exercise and physical exertion are often guide posts we can use that if we stay inside the thresholds we improve our abilities, immune system, or over all health.

Our conscious selves can change at a far greater speed than our organic selves, and to a large extent our pleasure/pain continuum is dominated by our organic selves. This ability for consciousness to grow and change at speeds that greatly surpass the organic self can lead to our conscious self duping or causing our pleasure economy to fail or give false signals.

Many substances and experiences which stimulate the pleasure response have a long history of being life enhancing or replicate the chemicals the body produces to have us feel pleasure, joy, connection, etc. Yet, our conscious abilities allow us to alter, distill, manipulate, modify, combine and increase the frequency and dosage of these substances and events which can result in our developing unhealthy and even life threatening compulsions and addictions. This fact has led us to over react, to mistrust or sometimes vilify our bodies pleasure signals.

This tendency of conscious mind to subvert and pervert our pleasure/pain economy has resulted in our devaluing or fearing pleasure and our organic self. The long history of human existence has been filled with much pain and suffering which has also induced self-conscious beings into sometimes choosing anesthesia over pleasure. This desire to over come suffering by becoming physically numb and emotionally detached is at the core of every major religion and spiritual practice.

Sense and Self-Consciousness

Through the instinctual, reflexive and ever evolving pleasure/pain mechanism (dynamic) our sensorial organic self (body) was able to be guided to make increasingly successful life affirming decisions. Over the course of time these decisions not only insured the survival of our species though successful adaptation, but created increasingly complex and rich experience.

Our sensorial world of pleasure and pain induced ever increasing awareness of our inner and outer world. Senses such as taste and touch had pronounced internal components. Our skin through the sense of touch was a major way in which we took in and interfaced with the world. Yet, an internal sense of touch put us in contact with our visceral selves. This is the sense of satiation and completion from food and water, or the warning pain of a head or stomach ache.

The sensation of taste occurs in our mouth and is felt inside our body. While we occasionally experience a taste in our mouth, the sense of taste is generally activated by the taking in of life from the outside world.

Smell is very associated and a companion of our sense of taste. While we experience smell inside our body we are very aware of its external origins and in fact we feel that we are smelling the rose as it exists outside of our nose and nostrils. Similar to smell we hear noises from the outside even though we experience them internally through the ear. Yet, we often can hear noises from inside the body such as our breathing, heartbeat, growling stomach or even creaking bones. In this manner of internal awareness hearing bears a strong resemblance to our sense of touch.

Our sense of sight is the most abstract and spatial of our senses. While many of our other senses directly affect and alter our real inner world, our sense of vision gives depth to all the other senses by having them orient all experience in the highly articulated world of the outside environment.

With our keen sense of vision we can plan, take evasive action, manipulate, prepare and imagine in ways which no other sense can come close to replicating. The closest rival does seem to hearing and is often the most developed sense of any one deprived of good vision.

Our sense of smell became less valuable to us as we became bipeds which stood erect and vertically open to the world rather than on all fours and being focused on the ground beneath us. So while the growing richness of our senses increased our awareness of our environment, changes in biological design such as our becoming two footed runners and observers of our horizons probably had a greater impact on the development and predominance of our self-consciousness (mind).

There appear to many factors that led to our amazing level of self-consciousness and intellectual acuity. A few of the factors would include the already mentioned standing erect, along with opposable thumbs and the evolution of the brain especially the neocortex. Our ability to articulate and unfold self-consciousness is difficult to imagine occurring without the accelerated growth in all forms of symbolic language especially that of words.

Moderns have difficulty imagining quality experience devoid of thought, or quality thought devoid of language (words). Yet, it reasonable to assume that man started off with a very small vocabulary similar to how children learn spoken language today. One would think that a very restricted vocabulary would have a difficult time producing a large volume of thoughts and that their occurrence was not the continual stream that we moderns have become accustomed to experiencing. I personally have a recollection of early childhood where events, play and fantasy dominated and did not seem to be so thought and word dependent. Also, our translations of the writing of ancient greeks (and others) are filled with examples of citizens who expressed surprise and discomfort for even the most mundane of thoughts and emotions usually denying any ownership of them and viewing them as coming from outside or a gift from the gods.

As sensorial awareness become richer and self-consciousness expanded due to factors such as brain and language development the emotional and psychological life of men was born and became increasingly dominant. The emergence of self-consciousness made us aware of the passage of time and of our having a personal history. We increasingly went from a body responding and reacting to external and internal stimuli to a consciousness planning, anticipating, hoping, regretting, feeling, desiring and searching for meaning in what we did and thought.

Conceptual and Physical Pleasure

The sensorial body is generally locked in the here and now. The pleasure pain mechanisms helped guide this body towards life affirming behavior and experiences and away from harmful or life threatening ones. The birth and development of self-consciousness aided the body in its goal of survival by giving it more options to alter and modify its environment, while expanding its abilities and resources to defend itself and acquire life’s necessities.

Self-consciousness and its rich emotional and psychological life developed its own pleasure and pain system which guided its desire to survive and flourish. Pleasurable emotional and psychological states such as loyalty, attachment, love and self-care were balanced by painful one’s such as mourning, anxiety, and anger which often aided in personal survival.

The mind and thoughts kinship with the sense of sight aided in its ability to imagine (images) and envision the possible and thereby assist in its altering or influencing the immediate environment. The ability to harbor and access the past, see the present from a global perspective, and anticipate the future gave self-conscious a tremendous advantage in the ability to survive and successfully adapt to one’s surroundings.

Self-consciousness was able to not only assist the sensorial body, but also to invent, create and imagine pleasures beyond the scope and design of the sensorial body. When pain and suffering became too great the mind was learning how to cope with, escape or even transmute suffering through imagination and belief.

The desire to escape pain and suffering through the creative powers of the mind became a vital component of the belief systems, myths and religions of almost every culture on the face of the earth. This overcoming of pain and suffering could be accomplished through salvation, revelation, enlightenment, a promise of of life after death, or esthetic practices of emotional detachment.

The overcoming of pain and suffering by transcending the body and its vulnerable sensorial world has been on the ascent for many centuries. The body and its world of successful functioning through pleasure and pain has been supplanted by an abstract world of belief and mind over matter.

Yet, abstract pleasure is not as rich as sensorial pleasure and self-consciousness combined. An imagined juicy peach is not as satisfying and pleasurable as eating a real peach. While imagined pleasure can be beneficial it truly cannot replace our very real needs for food, water and air.

The abstract pleasures of mind divorced from the sensorial body are quite beneficial and often necessary means of our being able to cope and deal with great pain and suffering. Yet, one is currently not in a state of suffering the taking flight into mind weakens our experiences and deprives us of all the millennia of benefits of what our sensorial body has learned of how to survive and flourish. No matter how self-conscious we become our sensorial bodies are what have us successfully live and function in the real world at a reaction speed far faster than we can think and make self-conscious decisions.

Spirituality and The Flesh

The belief that the body is a burden or a necessary hurdle on one’s journey towards heaven, nirvana, or some other form of eternal union is at the heart of many religions and spiritual practices. The belief that some essence called spirit will survive the death of the body, and in the case of reincarnation return again and again in new bodies until perfection is reached, and in the end will end up in a state of union for all eternity is extremely common.

The blissful state of this ultimate union is too refined for the gross sensorial body chained to the world of attached pleasure and pain. This spiritual state beyond pleasure and pain demonstrates the desire if not glorification of anesthesia.

The fear of pain and suffering is greater than the rich joys that are only able to be attained through the sensorial body. The unity and connection often espoused at the heart of spiritual practices is by definition bodiless. It is a unity of spirit or consciousness and not a physical connection or a rich sensorial pleasure such as the peach, but rather only the thought of the peach, or love, or actual connection.

Our sensorial body is very aware of physical connection and our consciousness can find no other analog to use. We should not find this surprising since the process of mind is born from the interaction of environment, body, nervous system and brain. All of our imagining are structured in the real world of the sensorial body, and all our conceptual pleasures of spirituality are structured in that very same rich and abundant sensorial world.

Spiritualists often make the universe as the ultimate source of our connection. The grand universe shows how we are all one. Our concept of universe is very similar to the monotheistic vision of a one god or creator that unifies and is everything. In either case most modern spiritualism emphasizes connection through the unity of the one “uni-verse” (uni meaning one).

I personally find the universe too abstract to be my source of connection. The universe is far too large for me to “feel”. The universe and God for that matter are beyond the constructs of our mind and its capacities for comprehension. The unfathomable dimensions of the universe do not inspire intimate connection, and the fact that the vast overwhelming majority of space is dead and devoid of any life (even molecular) is not warm and fuzzy but actually frightening.

Why would anyone make something so cold, distant, empty and unfathomable the very template and rationale for connection and unity? Why do people so readily seek connection out there, rather than right here? In many ways it replicates our connecting to others via cell phones and internet while ignoring family and friends at the restaurant we are at.

The universe for me is not a great image for unity and connection, but rather an inexhaustible source of awe and wonder. My source of connection is not found way out there, but rather right here. As I noted earlier, our sensorial bodies are intimately aware of the interconnection and interdependency of life.

I take in a bit of the world in every inhalation and return a bit of me in every exhalation. My connection and dependence on the world is obvious in every breath I take. My entire sensorial world full of pleasure and physical challenges is a dance of perpetual interdependence. My body is a host of interacting systems and generally harmonious colonies of microbes without which my life would not
continue.

I am fashioned by every interaction I have with another person, and every conversation I partake in. In many ways it is the divorcing and separation of self-consciousness itself which is at the source of our feeling of being disconnected. A sensorial body aided by self-conscious ego is capable of creating a tangible intimate existence. Not just an abstract union but a very real corporeal and rich intimacy.

Spirituality and religion are steeped in abstract language where the goal is radical change showing deep dissatisfaction with mundane life. Spiritual and religious texts goals often involve transformation, salvation and enlightenment, where the goal is the transcendence of mundane life, the sensorial body and the extinction of the individual ego.

I personally want to find better ways to appreciate, savor and intimately engage in life. I do not desire making everything one, but relish in the plenitude and diversity of our lush planet teeming with life. I see little benefit and great loss by trying to reduce life to a singularity. I seek no ultimates, certainties or eternal truths but rather look to embrace and enjoy the endless process of becoming more familiar, comfortable and intimate with my environment and the people who share it with me.

Government and Music and Philosophy and Poetry and Politics and Social Issues03 Aug 2014 10:54 am

The following is the lyrics and reverie for Deus Ex Machina a song of mine which will be released as a track on the album I’m Just Saying later this week.

Deus Ex Machina

Deus ex Machina is literally “the god machine”. In ancient Greek tragedies it was a device used at the end of the play to save the day through divine intervention to extricate the lead characters from sure and utter ruin.

In this song a strong proud woman is counseled to remain patient despite the fact that the speed of life is seemingly careening out of control. The counsel of her contemporaries seem to suggest that she should take solace in her beliefs and that soon her prayers will be answered by a last minute appearance of the god machine. We moderns are likewise being asked to trust that through our faith in religion, spirituality, technology or science will be plucked out of the immanent disaster our current path seems to be on.

In the late 60’s Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. The book focused on how the earth is essentially a huge spaceship with a limited amount of resources which cannot be resupplied. All of the life on this self-contained ship traveling through space is fragile and mutually dependent on each other for its continued survival.

Our blatant over use of finite resources such as oil, and our continual polluting of our air and water since his book was released bear comparison to the way the characters in the old greek plays ignored the prophesies of the savants in the tragedies. Our foolhardiness becomes even more obvious when we take the analogy between the earth and a giant space ship a little further.

Imagine the fate of the Star Ship Enterprise or some other city sized spaceship, if they allowed their water and air supply to be polluted and toxic. In addition, imagine the repercussions if they routinely had battles between different sectors of the ship in which passengers were killed and their living environment (hardware) were destroyed. How long would the voyage last?

The interdependence of organic and sentient life is a functional and practical reality, while our concepts of nation, political ideology, belief and judgment are relatively arbitrary. Without trees we could not breathe, nor could our bodies function and survive without germs and bacteria. The kill of be killed philosophy which dominates our modern world view is misguided and untenable. Strategies of how to coexist should not be relegated to the realm of utopia or idealism, for they are essential to our continual survival.

Words of hope, promise, and national or ethnic superiority pale in comparison to the importance of actions which increase the quality of life for all the inhabitants of space ship earth. The earth is a lush and vibrant planet due more to the ability of organic life to cooperate, adapt, harmonize and thrive than for its ability for individual organisms to defeat and destroy other organisms. While each individual organism must eat or perish, they also depend on the overall health and expansion of all life on the planet for their continued existence.

People turn a blind eye to the atrocities done in their name, or even defend, justify and support the actions of governments which are destroying people and nature. We are endangered by nuclear warheads and accidents, the degradation and increased toxicity of our water and air, the destruction of arable land and the overuse of non replenish-able resources. The earths growing population and advances in technology have created the opportunity for us to have killed and caused more human suffering than any previous empire on earth. We have killed millions upon millions of innocents under the ironic and absurd pretext of giving people their freedom.

So should we be like the ancient Greeks and still pin our hopes on divine intervention or the eleventh hour appearance of a god machine?

The earth has successfully dealt with every crisis it has faced. Despite the fact that life has always been fragile and survival has always been a reality, life on our planet has not only persisted but flourished. The earth is the only blue/green planet that our science has been able to find, so our planet had to do something right in order to create and support organic life. All we have to do is tap into and continue the tradition of our flourishing planet.

Deus Ex Machina

Deluge of broken comedies, the joker licks the steam
Laura struggles to make it better puts her pride in relief
The treadmill keeps moving faster all is on the increase
Before you slip into the chasm enter the god machine

Keep your toes on the line don’t trip on that line, trip on that line
Your hopes are in the future, so they tell you, so they tell you
So they tell you, so they sell you all will be improve a little later
Running cold, running bold, running blind, can you set the pace?

Lunge onward in darkness blindfolded by the mask of innocence
Walk softly pretty lady have faith in the guiding hand
Take a sleep on stony ground, not much you can do with this land
Listen safe to the deep voice that tells you what lies below

It’s cold, so cold and shady but a few yards yonder lies a brook
You can rest there for awhile, rest there lover
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine

Adorable god of fortune is late upon the scene
Make me shiver in wonder of your awesome majesty
Pluck us from the danger, the climactic deed
If you’re made of plaster what awaits sweet destiny?

Golden idol of reason celestial or divine
Save us at eleven before our last midnight
All looks so bleak, the edge of defeat, have faith in some alien god machine
Kiss the treasure the golden dream for here comes the god machine
Deus ex machina
Enter the god machine
Deus ex machina

Philosophy and Psychology and Social Issues03 Aug 2013 05:47 pm

The ability for us to document our lives and track our personal history is increasing on an almost daily basis. We can now take real time photos, videos and voice recordings with assorted hand held devices which we can carry with us at all times. We can take notes, do research, text, email and communicate with others most anytime and anyplace.

Most recent events can be recalled by this documentation or found via a research engine in a matter of moments as long as we can remember a few keywords. If I forget the name of a song I heard or a movie I once saw I can find it on-line as long as I can remember anything from a line of dialogue or lyric, to a band or actor name or some other minor fragment that relates to the work. 


All my essays, lyrics, poems, books and songs that I have documented through and on various mediums from computer, to this website to more dated technologies such as notebooks, typewritten manuscript or tape recorder are there for my perusal. Some of the information and data I remember with great clarity, some of it triggers or reconstitutes the old thoughts, feelings and memories and some of it was all but forgotten. Yet, due to all this documentation it is there for me to embrace and include in my sense of self and personal history.


An integrative aspect of memory is the concept of time. While clocks have been with us for centuries, our functional awareness of the hour, minute and even the second has been growing exponentially over the last century or so. We our surrounded, encapsulated and imbedded in chronological time. Our ability to document our memories with precisely noted time is becoming second nature.


All that I have documented becomes cemented in the historical me. It is all part of my sense of continuity and becomes incorporated in that lived consistency we call the ego. My memory aided by all the technological documentation deepens my sense of personal growth and development and my pride in being an ever evolving unique and relatively consistent individual.


The fast paced life we live, in which we are exposed to more information in a day then the majority of our ancestors experienced in their lifetime places a heavy burden on our memory and the mental storage of our lives and thoughts. This massive amount of facts, social interactions, perceptions, sensations and reflections is almost impossible to store in our short and long term memory banks. Our desire to manage, organize and retrieve this information is causing us to find better and more efficient ways to outsource our memory through many of the documentation mediums mentioned above.


Without our usage of these various mediums of documentation and storage our sense of personal history and sense of self would be far more limited. Many memories of past experiences, thoughts and feelings would fade, mutate or be lost completely. Even things as basic as how we looked, what we wore, items we owned even places we frequented would wither and often dissolve without the assistance of photos, diaries, letters and various other forms of documentation which crystalizes our existence for us to review.


The value and importance of memory is almost impossible to over emphasize. Our sense of self and the meaning we derive from life is almost completely dependent on memory and the flow and consistency it provides our existence. I can suffer many physical injuries and still remain Jim Guido. 


My social and personal identity is not endangered by sickness, loss of physical prowess or even the loss of a limb. In extreme cases such events and occurrences could alter or modify my self-image, but they would not extinguish it. As long as my memory stays in tact, and my ability to retrieve and take ownership of documented history survives, my sense of identity remains and my life story continues on unabated.


Yet, as in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s, when memory fades and can be lost forever, the sense of self can wane and die long before the body. At some critical point of mental decay the person we knew is gone, and the ghost inside the body is no longer someone we recognize. The eyes become vacant and time has shrunk to the immediate. Anticipation, reflection, savoring and relishing, love, gratitude and simple recognition all belong to the world of memory and time. 


Anyone who espouses the beauty of “living in the moment” and bewails “the babbling ego” which distracts one from the present is glossing over the vital role that the past and future play in the very act of cognition and appreciation. If I truly lived in the moment, there would be no memory and no documentation. Duration gives experience depth, significance and meaning. Memory is duration personified.


Our modern world is rife with technologies of expression and documentation which provide the potential for us to have very rich lives. We can remember and savor so much of our experience, and make the past within arms length ever ready to enrich our lives and fortify our sense of development and history. The various forms of tangible documentation increase the intimacy we have with others, ourselves and our surroundings filling our existence with meaning and significance.


Yet, the various forms of instantaneous communication available also pose a threat to memory, meaning and the richness born of reflection. The constant need to be online, plugged in, and on the grid can have us obsess with the fear of missing the very next moment or event. 


Our constant taking photos distances us from the very experience we are documenting, making us more observer than participant. A person unable to unplug, stop streaming, texting and engaging in the technologies is a person who has no time to reflect, savor and weave their memories into the fabric of their internal lives. Such a person is locked in the temporal present and is missing the beauty of integrating the past and present thereby deepening one’s memory and developmental history.


One wonders if our increasing dependence on the external mediums of documentation are weakening rather than aiding and supporting our internal memory. Is our internal memory like a muscle that needs to be exercised and challenged to function at optimal efficiency and avoid premature entropy? The brain which in many ways is the skeleton of mind may in deed be in need of the synaptic exercise to retain the very pathways which forge memory. 


With the specter of dementia still fresh in our minds lets take a moment to ponder the way we manufactured the acquiring of memory with less tangible documentation. Two of the most primitive means of tangible documentation were drawing and the written language. Before the emergence of written language the exchange of information, and the process of teaching and learning was accomplished orally. This pre-literate world we still can observe in children and oral cultures which have resisted the adoption or at least total reliance on the written word.


Cultures that held on to oral traditions or had difficulty adapting their language to the written word often found the written word lacking in substance. Many oral cultures found the nuances that housed the subtleties of meaning to be lost through the written word. Some languages were as much song as word, and the intonations carried a richness and meaning that could not be duplicated by grammar and diacritical marks. Other cultures found their meaning highly stilted and diluted by the absence of gesture, as their language was as much mime and dance as it was speech.


These obstacles and limitations of the written word are not foreign to modern man. Even an abstract language such as English loses much when written. It is easy to miss the emotional subtleties or tenor of the writer/speaker when you read an email or text message. Oftentimes emotional presentations involving sarcasm, irony, frustration and even confusion can be lost or misinterpreted in written language.


Despite the growth in technologies it is easiest to understand a person whom we are viewing and sitting in the same room with as they speak. Next but not quite as effective, would be where we could see their gestures and hear their intonations in a Skype situation. Next would be a telephone conversation and at the bottom of the communication totem pole would be the written word, with essays, letters and books slightly edging out instant messaging and short texts.


The earliest forms of writing lacked grammar and were often very poor at transmitting information or personal experience. The earliest forms of writing seemed to serve a mnemonic function more than expressive. The symbols seemed to be personal reminders than articulations. In this manner the first written notes of man seemed to be a way for them to remember something, and did not attempt to go any further.


The means by which we transfer information into memory for pre-literate children seems to have stayed the same for generations. Whether in a day care center or at home a child’s learning world is dominated by song, story, myth/fable, and theater. You walk into a day care center and the daily schedule and every transition is preceded by and learnt by a song or rhyme. Children commit the alphabet, number and other basic facts to memory through the use of song. We teach children moral and social mores through stories and fables. The bulk of a pre-literate child’s turning of facts or information into memory is accomplished through song, rhyme and story.


Much of how a pre-literate child learns and commits things to memory is replicated in oral and pre-literate societies throughout history. People learnt when to plant, what was poisonous, how to hunt, mid-wife and cure disease through myths and stories. Their moral instruction was also transmitted to memory by fables, stories, dance, poetry and theatrical performance. Epic poems were used to unite, inspire, and train warriors. Religious and spiritual beliefs were inculcated through story, ritual, rite and memorization of prayer.


Committing information to memory in oral cultures was a difficult and time consuming task. In spoken languages such as sanskrit multi-book volume length songs were committed to memory such as the sacred words of the Vedas. Individuals would often spend years of their lives using songs, poems, and myths as mnemonic devices to learn a trade and make the transition from apprentice to professional.


Oftentimes we find that the more silly the song or more outlandish the story the easier it is for our children to remember it, and commit its underlying lesson to memory. We also have found that rhythm, cadence, dance, pantomime and meter are excellent tools making memorization easier.


We find the same mnemonic techniques present in ancient, pre-literal and primitive societies. Dance, fantastic and theatrical presented stories and rhythmic poems often accompany and house the message to be learnt and committed to memory. This fact should make us wonder how much of the story is to help one commit the lesson to memory and how much of it is actual belief.


Living in a world full of tangible documentation it is hard for us to imagine the way the above techniques were used to transmit valuable information and commit it to memory. Due to this we often assume that the people believed in the content of the story as well as its message. While the truth of the matter is the mythic gods and heroes may have been more for effect than actual belief, just as our children can use fantasy and fantastic superheroes as a way of remembering without it being about actual belief.


Without many tangible means of documentation ancient man had to find ways of having things stand out so that they could be remembered. A father or grandfather was best remembered if he became a god or mythic hero. In an undocumented world there was a greater limit to what one could commit to memory and retain. 


One of the most standard means that has come down to us is the division between the sacred and the profane. That which was miraculous or sacred was far easier to remember for it stood out. People often identified thoughts and feelings they wanted to remember as “gifts from the gods”. While their were plenty of factors which probably played in ancients truly having a poor sense of an individual ego, they also found it easier to remember thoughts and feelings by making them sacred and beyond their day to day world. Earlier we mentioned the strong tie between time and memory, this is demonstrated by ancients man’s preference for sacred time and his reluctance to acknowledge chronological time. Yet, with no clocks or reliable means of tracking momentary historical time is it any wonder that his desire for memory found a home in sacred time?

Our road to recognizing and appreciating our sense of self is strongly tied to our ability to remember our individual experience and maintain our personal history. The passing centuries of improving and expanding our world of tangible documentation has solidified our sense of self and our ties to friends, family and contemporaries. 


Each step we make towards understanding ourselves increases our ability to understand others. Our personal memories and shared history can make our lives richer, fuller and more meaningful.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships10 Jan 2013 01:42 pm

Much of my thought over the last year or two has been focused on articulating and exploring the wonderful world of life becoming conscious of itself. A major part of my reflections has dealt with the complementary and integrated roles of the body and self-consciousness. I refer to the body as that which lives in the world, or the habit body. I’m generally comfortable as designating the self-conscious mind as the ego.

As you many of you who visit this site frequently know, I think too much emphasis and attention is placed upon the self/ego/executive function to the disservice and lack of appreciation of the skill and wonder of the lived body. You may want to read the previous posts in order to get caught up to speed.

 http://guidoworld.com/blog/i-realize-it-…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/reflections-o…
 http://guidoworld.com/blog/life-consciou…

Okay, so lets start by the simple statement that the ego is the thinking mind, which among other things observes, savors, problem solves, plans, judges, blames, etc. The ego is by definition self-conscious (conscious of itself). We refer to it as the executive function because of its primal role in planning, organizing, problem solving, etc.

While the ego is busy being self-conscious and thinking, speaking to itself, problem solving and judging, the lived body is busy participating, integrating, harmonizing, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching the world. The lived body is reacting, responding, selecting, documenting, perceiving and managing our mundane existence and coexistence with the environment.

The lived body is the habit body. Based on a few important data points it learns how to effortlessly function in the real world with lightning speed. The lived body is able to act and process at a far greater speed than the self-conscious mind. While we walk our habit bodies are soaking in the environment even if we are self-consciously else where. When our conscious mind suddenly becomes aware of the smell of lilacs it is usually only because of the constant perceiving and sensing being conducted by the lived-habit body (me). Hopefully this description has you better understand or feel what I mean when I talk about our bodies being-in-the-world or taking up a world.

It is the transcendental nature of our ego (self-consciousness) which allows it to be able to reflect, observe and savor. Likewise it is the nature of the habit body to orient itself and function in the world. The habit body participates and is in the world, and the ego is that which appreciates and reflects on our being in the world. The ego’s ability to transcend and observe our body and our experience our essential for our being aware of our experience.

So in essence the habit body is aware and conscious, it just isn’t self-aware and self-conscious. The problem with most of modern psychology, science and even spiritualism is that they over exaggerate the importance and autonomy of the self-conscious mind and deny the importance if not existence of any other aspect of our humanity. In psychology there is only (self)-consciousness and unconsciousness.

Let’s take the term unconscious memory and apply it to the dynamic between ego and habit body and see if it can become understandable and not just an oxymoron. Okay, our lived body is processing and documenting a tremendous amount of data (experience, words, sensation, etc.). Much of this information is placed in short, medium and long term memory even when our conscious mind was elsewhere or focused on one or two aspects of the total experience. This is why if pressed you can recall what song was playing at a party, or what someone was wearing even while at the moment of those occurrences your ego was deeply focused on a conversation or lost deep in thought. While your habit body acts of a minimal amount of information, it still processes and remembers a huge amount of data over a small space of time.

The so called unconscious memory of psychology is more accurately described as memory that was documented and incorporated into the data base of the lived habit body and was able to be retrieved by the ego to become data for the self-conscious mind. In the rare occasion that the habit body has protected itself from the pain, discomfort or failure caused by a specific event/memory or general habit/memory than it is true that the self-conscious ego has to struggle to access this data. Yet, almost all memory is habit body catalogued, and the vast majority is organized in a manner allowing for the best and most comfortable successful functioning of being-in-the-world.

When one reflects on one’s actual experience there are many other forms of consciousness and awareness which do not fit the strict definition of ego or self-consciousness. Yet, in the dual world of consciousness and unconsciousness, the unconscious is bad and a problem. While it is true that inhibition and many bad habits originate in a the world of the habit body (me), it is ludicrous to say it only has negative attributes. The lightning quick short hand allows the lived body to move and successfully function in the world, it also allows it to sort essential from inessential material. Likewise, it is the lightning speed of its processing which allows it to perform and catalogue useful information (memory, habit, sensorial cues, etc.) at the same time.

Just think how slow and difficult it would be for us to function and learn if we were totally dependent on the ego as our only form of awareness. Even walking would be near impossible if we had to break it down into the thousands of components and compensations involved in almost every step. We probably would never learn to walk if the skill had to be imparted to us by our ego. Similarly, we could think of nothing else when walking if the general mechanics and each subtle variation of stride and terrain had to be self-consciously orchestrated and analyzed.

The habit body’s ability to adapt to a new situation is far more quick and efficient than if it were attempted by the ego. We can adapt and master a major change in a matter of moments as our body incorporates and makes the changes part of our functional body image. If I put a feather in my hat within a few minutes I move in a way honoring the existence of the feather and seldom having it bump into objects as I move about rooms I’ve never even been in before. Just imagine how long it would take if I were to have to consciously think through each new scenario.

Likewise think how quickly one adjusts to riding a bicycle or a car with radically different dimensions than the one we are accustomed to, and how impossible it would be to adjust if we had to consciously identify and analytically teach our body the modifications of the new vehicle, as we make every turn, brake and park the vehicle. A musician within minutes of being seated at a piano with keys of different size and response, can play even the most challenging piece with a smoothness and deft that defies logic.

I’ll end here and hopefully what I have chosen to write here has clarified more than it has overwhelmed in my attempt to articulate the importance of the habit body and its relation to the ego.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology29 Nov 2012 05:57 pm

We humans seem to be fond of engaging in half thoughts which due to their nature are blind to their implications and ramifications. While entertaining incomplete ideas is both convenient and somewhat inevitable the crazy part is we often choose these partial thoughts to form the cornerstone and bedrock of how we define and view life.

Due to our dependence on these beliefs and incomplete thoughts we often adopt fundamental ideas on the essence of human existence which are inherently contradictory if not mutually exclusive to each other or to our expereince of life.

Our ideas regarding capital “T” Truth is one example. While science and religion may argue who is the actual custodian of the Truth, they both seem to share the same basic idea on Truth. Truth, in both realms deals explicitly or implicitly with certainty. In most cases this uncontestable certainty is professed to be eternal. Many believe that something can only claim to be True if it is an expression of universal law. Truth founded on universal law can pertain to both physical and moral matters. Truth based in eternal law is the very definition of certainty.

One of the fundamental Truth’s of both science and religion is in the fact that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. In religion it shows up in phrases such “as you sow so shall your reap”and in the concept of Karma, while in science it is the essence of not only the theory of relativity but is found in Isaac Newtons laws of motion. Viewing the universe as one big  predetermined and self-functioning machine has been a rather persistent Truth for much of man’s history.

In religion you don’t have to believe in reincarnation to be a proponent of predestination. Most monotheistic religions or those involving a creator have a tendency to make the creator perfect and infalliable. The creation itself has an inner design and purpose which must be played out and fulfilled.

A perfect god can only create a perfect world and there can be no room for surprises in the execution of his infinite wisdom and knowledge. The monotheistic god is a perfect and absolute god, and therefore, by definition, a compete and total god lacking nothing.

The world formed by an absolute prefect creator has little room for chance or free will. Likewise, a universe based on cause and effect has no room for accidents. In both cases life is fated and predetermined. If all is cause and effect than all is fated and predetermined. In the mechanical world of universal law of Einstein or Newton all action is fated by the execution of the laws that apply to every action. In such a mechanical world of certainty and Truth is there room for inventive action or free thought?

In the world of religion and science, of certainty and truth, all life is just on giant script that plays out ad infinitum. If every action has an opposite and equal reaction, then what choice do I have than to respond to every stimuli in the way that has been planned out?

The contradictory role of free will is demonstrated in the creation stories such as Adam and Eve, Gilgamesh and many others. These stories all feature the fall of man to explain man’s misfortune as he destroys the perfect Eden in which he was cast. Yet, how else could man exhibit his free will but to disobey or disregard the laws of the creator? If he followed the script without fail he would never assert his identity. Only by an ad lib could man distinguish and separate himself from god. Yet, if god is perfect, than any deviation from his will is impossible or a sin.

So, in the world of Truth and certainty there is no room for free will and choice. In the world of cause and effect and universal law, all is predestined and any feeling of choice or free will is an illusion.

How does one rectify the concept of an expanding universe with the status quo of relativity? How does one find a logical basis for human creativity, error, problem solving or choice? How does one even explain how a human created from a perfect god could even entertain the idea of thinking and deciding on his own? The answer to these questions seems to be that they don’t. There is no explanation since these implications and ramifications of the original half thoughts are never explored.

Yet, despite this logical conclusion both science and religion seem to claim that humans have a free will and can and do make choices. In the world of half thoughts all is possible even when it is logically impossible and inconsistent. The goal of these half thoughts was to create a world of certainty and Truth. Additional thoughts are judged and valued by their ability to support and prove certainty and Truth. Inconsistencies are glossed over in the case of religion by mystery, and belief. In science inconsistencies are avoided by collecting data, devising theories and engaging in experiments which support one horn of the dilemma at a time.

The real irony is that while cerrtainty and Truth were devised to provide life with meaning, they (when fully explored and thought through) actually strip and deprive life of meaning. While concepts such as purpose and responsibility are akin to certainty and Truth, meaning is more suited to a flawed and finite human existence.

In a world of certainty and Truth there are expectations, in a world of meaning there is growth, development and progress. When one discovers the Truth one’s journey is over, if one finds the answer to life there are no more questions. Yet, human life derives its joy and meaning from a journey never complete, from never ending layers and perspectives to uncover and explore.

In my book, Exploring Intimacy, which you can read on this site, I explore the rich and inexhaustible process of becoming increasingly familiar with life, knowledge, yourself and others. Becoming intimate with something is not a one way street of getting physically closer to, but an endless array of perspectives both telescopic and microscopic of isolated and in context. Life could be lived for centuries and not be exhausted. Purpose, certainty and Truth are fairly one dimensional while meaning is onmideminsional and indefatigable.

The fear which seems to motivate the need for Truth is that without certainty life would become meaningless and chaotic. A universe without law is considered random and unliveable. Yet, in reality the choice is not binary, It is isn’t a case of either or.

The space between certainty and chaos is not empty ether, but rather one teeming with real life. It isn’t the conceptual ideal world of Truth or Platonic Ideals, rather the real lived world of flesh, feeling and thought. Between certainty and chaos lies the enire world of probability, pattern, chance, intimacy, growth, creativity and opportunity.

The following chart is my attempt at making a clearer distinction between certainty/truth and meaning/intimacy. As you can see I started with contrasting purpose and meaning, but many of the other terms listed below could have headed each column. The words in each column are not a point by point contrast with the words in the other column. Yet, I do feel it gives you a pretty good feeling for the two basic ways of being and living in the world.

Please read each column and see which one feels more like the world you would want to live. Which one promises the most joy and satisfacrtion?

Yet, for me the beauty is in the fact that at each moment we are able to choose which way we are framing and coloring our experience. In my life, I have found the right hand column more to my liking.

 

Purpose                                                                           Meaning

Fulfillment of role/function                                    Significance

Pre-ordained design                                                  Discovery

Fate                                                                           Free Will

Knowledge                                                                    Wisdom

Certainty                                                                 Probability/Permutations

Truth                                                                       Functioning Premises

Karma                                                                        Variability

Destiny                                                                      Creativity

Absolute                                                                      Relative

Eternal/fixed                                                                 Historical/malleable

Metaphysics                                                                   Process

Positivism                                                                       Phenomenology

Interpret/analyze experience                                    Describe experience

transcend humanity (overcome, transmute)         Embrace, unfold,  humanity

Perfection                                                                       Self-actualization

enlightenment                                                              longevity and joy

Assume/believe                                                          deduce/construct

universal law                                                               patterns and cycles

goal                                                                                 intention

 

 

Jim Guido

 

 

Philosophy and Poetry and sexuality16 Oct 2012 08:46 am

The following is a poem I wrote sometime earlier this year which I hope you enjoy and pass on to those who might appreciate its sentiments. I never tire of celebrating the wonder of life and living.

The Distance of Intimacy

the shroud that separates
becomes a gossamer like membrane
where touch is the medium of union
retaining the faintest of distance
an evanescent vestige
permitting intimacy this side of fusion

intimacy is the template
to be used liberally
with all of life
all our senses touch
probe….
as we offer our bodies
to be touched
by the world in which we breath
and exhale ourselves back into its manifold
in endless permutations
of it and me

From where does my voice come
if not from this thin membrane
which makes individual experience possible
and union an orgasmic urge
There are no set boundaries
just expansion and contraction
of intermingled air
and reciprocal movement
I accomodate life
as it accomodates me

What heresy
is the absolute
infinity and the eternal
What beauty
is contained in fragility
in birth and in death
experience forever articulated
but never exhausted nor complete
a process we are gifted to participate in
and to appreciate
yet like gosamer
life’s beauty
lies in its fleeting fragility

Life creates gossamer
Shrouds are of our making
either by over emphasizing our individuality
or by creating infinite distance inherent
in ideas such as immortality and the absolute
Destiny too is a shroud
a thick covering
which while it insulates and protects
destroys individuality and choice
that gives joy to the dance
of me, you and the world 
I breathe I exhale
I see, I am seen
I touch and am touched
and the world undulates
and I am so moved

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology04 Sep 2012 10:08 am

The following is a reverie on my song What We Live. You can listen to this song by clicking on to the music tab above and going to the CD entitled I’m Just Saying.

 

What we live                                                              6/6/09

Wrought by the night
Fraught with insight
The steely comfort comes shining through

No need to dream
No symbols crashing
Taking stock in what I see and do

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue
Pierce through visions spawning truth
Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

What we live

When we focus our attention and what we live as opposed to why or even how we live, we are guided to the content and very stuff of our experience. We return to experience itself and not our theories, explanations, interpretations or objective analysis of experience. What we live is a fixed awareness on the primal dance of experience and the experiencer.

The song is a contemplation and celebration of what we live. What we live is an identification, articulation and appreciation of our experience and how we take up and live in a world. It is more about participating and describing than explaining and theorizing.

The what of living is being a body experiencing life and not just living in one’s head. The what of living inspires us to appreciate and savor the awe of being alive and being conscious of being alive. In sum, what we live is being immersed in experience, while at the same time savoring this experience and developing wisdom and insight.

The lyrics begin after a full day of living and processing the functional and pragmatic wonder of life.

Wrought by the night

Wrought in the sense of created or fashioned, but also hinting at the existential angst associated with being emotionally wrought.
The night referring both to the time of day, and all the images and symbols of the night, including its quiet, starkness, solitude and lack of activity.

Fraught with insight

Such a time of contemplation is destined to be filled with meaningful insight inspired by the peace, calm and formless womb that is night.

The steely comfort comes shining through

The comfort of the night I’m referring to is the calm starkness it offers, not the pampered creature comforts we so often surround ourselves with. Which is why the comfort is steely. A steely comfort is pure and naked. The steely comfort of all our insights and joys softly streams through the darkness with the type of clarity that only starkness can produce.

When our eyes get accustomed to darkness we often are aware of there being enough light to catch a brief glimpses of objects such as a silver candle holder or the shimmer of glass. These brief glimmers are like the fleeting moments of clarity which come to a calm and open heart.

No need to dream

On a night where I’m content and awed by simplicity, I have no need to dream. I have no need to flee the moment, or to look beyond life. Content in the moment and enraptured with my very heart beat I have no need to look above or beyond the moment.

My reveries and reflections are so fulfilling as to have me feel emotionally and psychologically sated that even as I fall asleep I have no need to dream, just to rest and savor my contentment.

No symbols crashing

This line is a combination of symbols clashing and cymbals crashing. It again emphasizes that for a fully conscious mind there is little need or use for dream. If one reflects, ponders and processes during the day than the “unconscious” mind often has no agenda or need to speak to us when we sleep.

Taking stock in what I see and do

When one does their work during the day the night is free to rest. A day spent taking stock in what one sees and does is a full and fulfilling day, with no gaps to be filled in at night.

There are no symbols clashing, there is no need for drama or for secret dire messages for a person who has lived the day fully and has been open to and paid attention to their inner life. There is also no need for nightmarish anxiety and heart pounding reactions to cymbals crashing. No suppressed symbols are crashing and haunting us and preventing us from deep and peaceful rest.

I’ve lived my life
looking long into mirrors that imbue

Everywhere I turn I see and benefit from mirrors which have me see myself. I find these mirrors everywhere, from my own body sensing and functioning in the world, to others, nature, language, music and history. I am forever energized, challenged and imbued by all myriad of snapshots propagated by the endless mirrors that dominate my vision and experience.

Pierce through visions spawning truth

My body, the world and self-awareness are all inextricably linked and interwoven. At times I see myself in the world, and at other moments I see the world in me. Each vision, reflection and pattern recognized contains a truth and a wisdom which deepens my life. Yet, these visions actually pierce through truth to the reality and experience that is what we live. Such truth unmasks and discredits the Truth that the less vigilant and thorough use to flee what we live.

Come with me as we straddle the real
Trust in the fathoms we feel

I invite you to come with me and straddle the real. The real that is both experience and our reflections of experience. That is both raw experience and the contemplation, processing and historical contextualization that gives birth to and sustains my sense of self. A self that is dependent and enmeshed in the world and my body.

While what we live is foreign to superlatives such infinity, absolute and Truth its reality is by no means pure fiction. The depth of our experience, and its endless revelations are only possible because we are limited sensorial beings born out of the interplay of world, body and mind. Yet, rather than bemoan our limits we should embrace them and though our knowledge and experience be transitory, our lives are none the less full of meaning.

Those who bewail that life has no meaning, are looking for the meaning of life outside of life itself in some form of absolute Truth. Yet, for those of us enthralled with what we live we are immersed in a world of endless meaning, a world of perpetual intimacy and increased familiarity with ourselves, our bodies and the world we live in.

We fall asleep
When awake we breath deep
So many lessons come into view

After a contented deep sleep we awake refreshed and open to a new day. We begin to commune and take in the world by filling up our lungs with the morning air. As we exhale we give a little of ourselves back into the world and reestablish our enmeshed dependence on our body and our environment.

During the night our attention retreated from the world. While asleep many new cells in our body developed while others died, and a slew of biochemical changes transformed our body every passing minute. Yet, despite the retreat and bodily changes we awake the same person able to recall and build off of our expanding and deepening sense of personal history.

Each and every moment brings possible discovery along with a renewed sense of familiarity with ourselves, our body and the world we share with others.

Questions when ripe
Unveil and incite
Preconceptions we unglue

Language is like the air we breathe. It surrounds us and is the very way we take up and have a world. As we experience and reflect on our sensory world our attention spawns observations and insights. Accurate descriptions of what we see and sense, resonate deep within us and give voice to our experience.

Our discoveries and curiosity give rise to new questions to be answered. When our sense of wonder slowly coalesces into a specific question it opens us up to a world of new discovery, insight and wisdom. Words and thoughts disclose the world to us as well as articulate our experiences. Through words and thought the world and our historical self are revealed (disclosed) to us.

Our increasingly accurate descriptions and observations resonate deep within us giving voice to our experience. This process born of dwelling in what we live is energizing and allows us to pay close attention to what we experience rather than what we think we experience. Observations based on real and actual experience dispel preconceptions and misperceptions that we have presupposed, and lead to increased intimacy with ourselves, body and world.

Come with me as we follow the clues
Piece together the life we choose
Each day add a new brush stroke or two
Endless perspectives bring me closer to you

The more we learn about what we live the more we realize that there is no end to the wondrous puzzle of life. For those attuned to what we live; learning, developing, discovery and increased intimacy are endless processes. Even though each day we add to the familiar, this does not prevent us from being surprised or stumbling across a novel way of taking up our world. Our assembled puzzle will never be complete, for there is no final answer or solution to what we live.

So let’s enjoy the experiences and processes of life. Let’s dedicate ourselves to following the clues afforded us by our experience, and assemble a puzzle together. Let us enjoy the freedom and options that comes with the reality that there is no final solution, or True answer to life.

Each day we can add a few brushstrokes to the great canvass we call our lives. What we live is best seen from a host of perspectives and viewpoints, each one with its own value and meaning. Each revelation regarding what we live is a perspective which we have the opportunity to use in a fashion which brings us closer to ourselves, each other and the world we experience.

What we live warms my heart ignites my skin
What we live keeps me coming lets me in
What we live is all I know I end and begin
What we live is where I’m going and where I’ve been

My life is forever enriched by staying attuned to what we live. This perspective teaches me (reminds me) that fulfilling experience is not a choice between being present (immanence) and reflective (transcendence) but a combination of both. My body feels and senses and my thoughts have me savor, appreciate and form a personal history. The simple act of enjoying the soft fur of my cat involves both my hand feeling the fur as it strokes the cat and my mind savoring, reflecting on and appreciating the experience and placing that one experience into the history and life world of my pet.

What we live is not just of the moment, but woven into the great tapestry we create. Each moment propels me to the next with anticipation and rewards me with adding to the expanding totality of my life. What we live is a self-contained entity comprised of my body, the world and my awareness of myself. All three aspects are interrelated and interwoven and no experience of mine happens in isolation or divorced from this primal trio. From my first breath until my last what we live is truly all I know, and where I begin and end. What we live is my story and my future, it is where I am going and where I have been. What we live is both context and content, and the generator of all life’s joys and meanings.

 

To say that life is precious is a gross understatement.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Relationships03 Feb 2012 08:59 am

Each year I write my wife 12 letters during the Christmas season (the 12 days of Christmas) as part of her presents. She has graciously given me permission to post this letter.

I decided to post this letter as it was written. Hopefully, you the reader, can follow it despite some of the inside references and verbal short hand. Recently my thoughts have been darkened by some dark prospects I will address in my next post to be entitled “Let’s hope I’m Wrong”.

Yet, it is always nice to take a moment to reflect on the wonder of human existence. I hope you enjoy this post and keep it in mind when you read my next few posts.

December 12, 2011

This year for me has been one of getting back to my phenomenological roots and feeling increased gratitude for being healthy. This has been a year for focusing on what I have, rather than what I do not have.

As the mighty storm clouds continue to build around our economy and social structure it is difficult to not feel a little anxiety regarding the future. Yet, at the same time it is almost impossible not to feel very fortunate in the present and to take heart in how well the years have treated us.

We don’t deserve suffering nor good fortune, yet eating right, exercise, kindness and appreciation are their own rewards. I feel that doing the healthy thing is going to continue to be one of my highest priorities for the coming years. I hope you too, make your continued health the highest of personal priorities.

Putting together the package of my lyrics for the book club has helped me gain some perspective and appreciation of what I have written and sung. “I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun, words pour out in rapid runs, painting the world that is me, making the world I am to be…….sometimes the world touches me. “

Speech has always come easy for me. Thoughts and words do shoot out in constant streams. Getting older I do have the occasional experience of struggling for a word, yet for the bulk of my life words have come to me effortlessly and even complex or original thoughts have been there for me with no hesitation.

My writing forever surprises me. On one level I’m a rather controlled and thoughtful writer. When writing a song I more often than not take my time slowly building the song phrase by phrase, often going back and changing lines until a certain flow happens. Yet, even when I have anguished over its creation my words always surpass my intentions. Days, months and in some cases years will pass by before I appreciate or even recognize some meanings that lay hidden inside the words.

Being human is such an extraordinary thing. Each human life is far more fascinating then its author intended. If people truly appreciated human experience and the richness of self-consciousness than there would be no greater endangered species than depression.

Despite the fact that we refer to ourselves as human beings we seem to unrealistically and negatively judge and evaluate ourselves as human doings. Most of us race about doing, acting and accomplishing while rarely matching up to our expectations. We are finite and limited beings who seem to demand of ourselves absolutes, completions and perfections.

As I wistfully mention in Opportunity Lost, ‘I wish the human race could be run at a more comfortable pace.” It does seem that we are pitting the two most dominant ways we refer to ourselves against each other. In one corner we have human beings and in the other the human race. Yet, despite the popularity of mindfulness and spirituality the realities and demands of modern capitalism are having the race overshadow the being.

There is no inherent problem in doing, acting and performing as long as it is anchored in being. Being is not the opposite of acting, for to be demands breathing and all sensorial experience necessitates movement. Yet, being includes an acceptance of one’s real situation and one’s intersubjective connection with the world, others, the body and self-consciousness.

Yet, there is no where on the globe in which people stay centered in the real and actual experience of being human. It appears that it is extremely difficult to accept our inherent ambiguity and uncertainty. Either self-consciousness is the goal or the illusion, or the present is the goal relegating history, reflection and anticipation into evils or distractions.

As I point out and question in Come on In,

The limits we strive hard to overcome
Make life possible are its total sum
Why is being human such a bad gig?
What’s so wrong with life as it is?

And all I have to say is the invitation I offer in the same song:

I’m so excited by the challenge within
I’m so delighted to take it all in
I just want to dance, I just want to swim
I just want to laugh, I just have to grin
Come on in

It is hard to imagine anything more interesting and fulfilling that to think, feel and speak. For me no description of heaven, nirvana or cosmic consciousness has surpassed or even matched the beauty and satiation I can acquire through the simple process of human experience and intimacy.

Hopefully we can enjoy many more years in appreciating our journey on this our earthly and all so human Magic Carpet Ride.

Psychedelically,

Jim

PS No not Hendrix, the Italian guy

Philosophy and Relationships11 Nov 2011 12:48 pm

One of my popular posts is the one I entitled Learning How to Purr which I wrote back in 2008. I’m glad it has been read so often as I think Learning How to Purr is a rewarding skill. The post by the way was based on the lyrics of the song by that name which can be heard and read on Zephyr in the music section of the site.

What is amazing is that for a cat purring is not a rare event or a sign of perfect bliss. Purring is the default mode of a cat, if nothing pressing is happening then for most felines purring is the thing to do (feel). I, too, am learning how to make that humming type of contentment my fall back mode of being in the world.

My nature is to be reflective and thoughtful and even in the midst of activity I am often ruminating on some thought or observation. I love learning about myself, others and the world I perceive. Each day I find it easier to do all these things in a manner which makes purring commonplace.

A calm cellular joy which traverses my body and guides my perspective is finding its way into my daily activities. Even at the height of activity at work, playing music or sports, or in conversation I can sense the purr arising from deep inside me. I meditate twice a day and it is now becoming rare when the bulk of that time is not spent purring (basking) in cellular joy.

As you can tell from my posts, this purring does not prevent me from looking at the world critically and realistically. My cellular joy isn’t born of dreaming and escapism but from my visceral integration with others and my surroundings. The warm hum is visceral and emanates from and circulates through my body. It is not an abstract joy divorced from the real world and a possession of my mind, it is not a platonic ideal, or a spiritual consciousness, but rather a full bodied joy of the wonder of the dance of me perceiving myself and the world.

In my poems Awed and I Realize It is Me, which have been posted on this site, I try to paint and articulate this beauty in a form which helps create the perspective that gives rise to the experience of cellular joy and purring. Each day that passes I learn new ways of celebrating life, and make new discoveries revealing the wonder of human existence.

What I’ve learned from developing the habit of purring is that it is not what you do that’s is so important as how you do it. Cellular joy comes more from adopting the right perspectives than having total control over the activities you do from moment to moment. In fact, what seems to be emerging is an organic realization that the cellular joy has little to do with any specific activity and the very search for the right activity or accomplishment often runs counter to the experience of cellular joy (purring).

Though certain thoughts and attitudes are helpful in fostering or allowing purring to occur, I have come to learn that cellular joy is an actual organic experience. The human body makes our having a world and perception possible. Without my body there would be no me, and no way for me to experience a world. My sense of self is not a thing, it is a process, and without my body and its taking up a world there would be nothing to feel, know or experience.

Cellular joy is the celebration of being alive. And when it comes down to it, what better is there to celebrate that the gift of life.

Jim Guido

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