Sunday, October 5, 2008

Caring and Not Caring With the Election Coming Up

I see that there are many exremely articulate pleas coming from motivated Obama supporters. Pleas to keep it calm this time, and not to offend the culturally innocent; not to hand the election once again to those who would play with democracy on the way to winning an election. And I am struggling with my own paranoia.

This time for me differs from the last time in at least the simple sense that I am older and won't be able to muster any energy another time around with this nonsense. With Reagan, I was young enough to be cautious with my certainties, though by rights I should have been young enough to be certain. But I did still believe in a kind of true love, my wonderful daughters were yet ahead of me, and I since have aborted as many careers as children; enough to justify my uncertainty at least. I might have been wrong, and I might have proven it by success in various fields of human endeavor.

But they've gone too far. I am not looking forward to comfortable retirement, and I think I have a lot of company. I expend considerable angst about getting it right at work, and yet I also face the emotional limitations of workmates who just might prefer the dysfunction as it is. The rewards are all skewed, and getting it right at work is as likely to get you fired as is doing very little work at all. Sometimes doing very little work at all is the safest thing, since at least you won't be risking any kind of line crossing. Lots of the time, what is wanted is a kind of inner compliance toward that thing which goes by the corporate shorthand of culture.

So, I have been quietly hoping for improvements to the sanity-direction of our collective actions, even rooting for technological breakthroughs of the sort to solve the food and energy crises which constantly bedevil my middle American equanimity at what could very well be a very nice life. What a wonderful daydream is "clean nuclear" or "green revolution". As if our problems were not a matter more for proper distribution and conservative behaviors than technical fixes. As if it weren't already obvious that more of these inputs would (and have!) simply energize the very grotesqueness of the distortions between those within and those without the castle walls.

There is little question that open markets do provide the best means for "wealth creation", and that an inevitable consequence of such improvements overall is that some will need to be cared for because they will be left behind in the generalized competition. There is probably also little question that the effort to care, preemptively, for those who might need it can only leave them failed at the outset.

Our social contract is meant to provide for basic education, which should mean basic preparation to compete using a variety of skillsets, the most basic of which ought to be gumption and grim endurance. The social contract ought to be extended at least to allow for enough basic healthcare that accidents of fate and genetics don't leave people literally in the cold. There ought to be a minimal community table at which we can be nourished, and to which we may always return clothed and warm.

It must be when, in the midst of plenty, we are literally goaded to ignore as inevitable the abject misery of so many among us, in the face of unspeakable wantonness among the beautiful and wealthy, that we should take notice that everything about our collective human living has spun disastrously out of balance.

Up until the beginning of the last century collective humanity could feel certain of its enlightenment thrust beyond simple ignorance. We were tracking and travelling the entire globe, and by cataloging our anthropological distinctions, were rubbing dull - or some were -the sharp ignorant insistences of superiority by those in happenstance possession of power.

At an absurdly early moment, when the harnessing of earth's great fossil treasure would make possible ever more rapid transgressions across land and water, and finally even into the air and out of it to lunacy; at this same moment when dynamite would leave its legacy in reward of great thought as amends for greater destruction -- at that absurdly early moment it was already clear in the reformulations of a young Albert Einstein that clarity in our human understanding would be a receding over-the-horizon goal on an increasingly dangerous grail quest.

From that moment has descended destruction on an unthinkable scale, along with the communications technologies which might yet mitigate such destructive impulses. Oil alone, without the transistor, would surely never have enabled our collective gasp of so much outbreathed carbon condensate to risk a fatal unbalancing of the very living earth which for a while yet will elude our hubristic efforts to control.

While still not yet having come to terms with Einstein's humble genius, it may be necessary to complete the fatal equation. When light was seen not to propogate as waves through some supposed ether, but rather as massive particles whose velocity was by definition terminal, and when their energy could be released only by an act of perception, which implies not only at least another particle on which to exercise its only ever relative energy, but also a kind of measure-taking, it should already have been apparent that apart from the meauring mind, there could be no meaningful existence to the thing being measured.

We exist as in a pause. It is the very pause between perceived flash, stomach-felt concussion, and final collapse of a modern building undergoing planned demolition. If this weren't a common enough sight, the entire world has internalized an approximation of the sequence from watching the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, 1 and 2. The structure appears coherent after puffing almost imperceptably out. It is the very near-perfect timing of the dissolution of each internal linkage which allows all the parts to pause in suspension before, now only seeming intact, falling to the ground in a manner to take the very air down with it, leaving the dust for afterward.

The trade towers were demolished so perfectly by luck, from the top, and followed a sequence down so that their illusion of integrity had to be expanded back in time to the very improbability of their ever having been built in the first place. At the time, metaphors of hubris abounded.

But still we wait for the supercollider to finish its work before declaring that there may be no free rides on this spaceship earth. Kurtzweil be damned, there may be no hubristic response allowable to our failure to heed what has already been made so abundantly manifest; that it is the observer who must be transformed before the object of her observation will yield any further revelation.

We continue to act, in other words, as though the cosmos were deterministic and determined, and as though our only human role - consciousness being our myterious bestowed distinction - were progressively to reveal its workings. This despite the apparent finality of our implication, by simple physics, in the workings of the things observed. By the very dimensionality of space having been itself revealed to be an extension of those particles, whose very particulate nature resists definition except, perhaps, by that dimensionality which presupposes measured mass and not more fleeting energy. We continue to act, quite simply, as though we weren't responsible for creation, preferring to project that responsibility onto some invisible hand, responsive to laws, in classical validation of what we already know to be patently absurd.

The "hand" of Fate is as the end of the cosmos, curving back on itself in some other nonperceived and nonperceptible dimension. These are abstractions. Yet what is real is our hands, and our mind, and our collective decision making and will. There has never been, and can never be, any cosmos apart from mind. Mind too, quite apparently, has a reductive existence, more minor than that of the still yet-to-be-detected Hadron. Mind without emotion, breaking the definition for mind -- like human without conscience -- is simply some absurd simulacrum, or at best an abstraction which can never be found in actual existence.

And emotion is simply the caring that a connection exist. This fifth force, perhaps weaker than gravity, or perhaps stronger than that strongest intra-nuclear force, is the only one without theoretical particles in mediation. Absolutely nothing is transferred. And yet, apart from this conceptual connection - in mind alone - nothing of the perceptual cosmos, in measured exchange of particulate mass, would or could be other than static, suspended, and block-like meaningless because it might be coming together or flying apart.

Who could tell?

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