Thursday, August 25, 2016

When knowledge is not power...for the moment

Washington Post:
"Machiavelli kept it(The Prince) for several years, revising and altering it. Finally, he decided to dedicate it to Giuliano's cousin Lorenzo de'Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent, hoping that the young ruler would be pleased. "Accept this little book, then, I beg your Magnificence, in the spirit in which I send it; for if you consider it and read it with attention, you will discern in it my surpassing desire that you come to greatness," Machiavelli wrote in 1517. "And if from the summit of your lofty station, your Magnificence ever turns your eyes to these low places, you will perceive how long I continue to bear the burden of Fortune's great and steady malice."
No one knows whether Machiavelli gave Lorenzo de'Medici his work. One story, possibly apocryphal, says Machiavelli appeared at court to present his book while another visitor was presenting Lorenzo with two hunting dogs. The 20-year-old prince was said to be far more interested in the hounds. Whatever happened, the effort failed. Machiavelli's book was ignored, and he again withdrew to his villa and immersed himself in writings of ancient historians and philosophers."
This story of Machiavelli shows us that knowledge may not have immediate power but it can certainly gather power over time even long after you are gone and dead. The ink of the pen has a power that outlasts the blood of empires.
The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.
Muhammad

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stories told and untold

The more stories I know the less I am certain that there is a grand story to make sense of all the stories that have played out on earth from the smallest creature to the most complex. No grand story only a trillion trillion stories. How many untold stories in the universe!

Monday, July 11, 2016

For humans it is about warm relationships not cold reason

For humans it is about relationships not arguments. It is about love not logic. It is about family not facts.
Relationships, experience, and imagination are more powerful in shaping ideology than arguments, facts, and knowledge.
Relationships are more powerful than arguments when it comes to ideology.
Imagination is also important. If you spend your imagination resources on thinking about a god man on a cross 2000 years ago versus thinking and imagining the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 millions years ago, depending on which one you highlight and meditate on can make a difference in shaping your ideology.
Your family, your community, your experiences, and your relationships can be much more powerful than the naked facts of reality in shaping your ideology. In fact human society was built to protect us from the harsh reality. We war against nature’s reality to the very end.
"Reason is the slave of the passions"
David Hume
"She (nature) destroys us--coldly, cruelly, relentlessly, as it seems to us, and possibly through the very things that occasioned our satisfaction. it was precisely because of these dangers with which nature threatens us that we came together and created civilization, which is also, among other things, intended to make our communal life possible. For the principal task of civilization, its actual rasion d' etre, is to defend us against nature."
Freud

Friday, June 24, 2016

"to be a hero one must first survive"

“the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Preposterous assumptions of humanity

On the streets broken minds and broken bodies crawl. Those up above look down in disdain supported by beams and structures they cannot see all the while they think “it was all me.”
“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”
Herman Melville

Before I sleep

History is a child building a sandcastle by the sea

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sheikh Hamoudi on TE Lawrence

Oh! If only he had died in battle! I have lost my son, but I do not grieve for him as I do for Lawrence…. I am counted brave, the bravest of my tribe; my heart was iron, but his was steel. A man whose hand was never closed, but open…. Tell them…. Tell them in England what I say. Of manhood, the man, in freedom, free; a mind without equal; I can see no flaw in him.
—Sheikh Hamoudi,on being told of Lawrence’s death

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Seven Pillars - TE Lawrence

I loved you, so I drew these tides of Men into my hands And wrote my will across the Sky and stars To earn you freedom, the seven Pillared worthy house, That your eyes might be Shining for me When we came
Death seemed my servant on the Road, 'til we were near And saw you waiting: When you smiled and in sorrowful Envy he outran me And took you apart: Into his quietness Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, Our brief wage Ours for the moment Before Earth's soft hand explored your shape And the blind Worms grew fat upon Your substance
Men prayed me that I set our work, The inviolate house, As a memory of you But for fit monument I shattered it, Unfinished: and now The little things creep out to patch Themselves hovels In the marred shadow Of your gift.
― T.E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
"Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars" Prior to the First World War, Lawrence had begun work on a scholarly book about seven great cities of the Middle East

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ronit Elkabetz

I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves. Since an ineluctable part of being a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a sort of “generalization” of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple.
I just think that fiction that isn’t exploring what it means to be human today isn’t art.
David Foster Wallace
Ronit was an artist in the sense DFW was talking about. She gave voice to the voiceless in many regards. She made visible the invisible. She gave power to the powerless. Her characters were usually outcasts, unseen, invisible, and yet empowered by their realness and authenticity.
Farewell Ronit. May your voice continue to speak and haunt the comfortable in this world and also comfort the afflicted

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Nature’s Beauty and Cruelty in the Artwork of Lauren and Caitlin

I hope to remind those who view my artwork that we too are animals, embedded in this fragile world even as we poison it. My work alludes to the boundaries that separate humans from animals both physically and metaphysically, and the way in which these boundaries are warped by science, mythology, and religion alike.
Like the gods of so many myths Humanity has warped the world into our own image, and it is this often frightening image I hope to reflect in my work. In my work I attempt to capture the often volatile human-animal relationship as well as a reflection of my own sorrow over the loss of wild species and wild places.
I am faced with the fact that we live in a planet in decline, where nearly every natural ecosystem in the world is withering to dust. Human kind has created a planet of refugees; animals forced to flee ever farther from the insatiable encroachment of urban development, victims of a war for space which they cannot hope to win.
Caitlin Hackett

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Homer - The Iliad

"Come, Friend, you too must die."
The Iliad
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
The Iliad