Category Archives: Philosophy/Theology

Turn To Stone

via Daily Prompt: Encrusted

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The well known Augusta water wheel, originally timber, built in the 1800s to provide water for the town and the lighthouse, now encrusted in calcite. A metaphor. If we cease to engage realtionally with others, with nature, with what matters, we risk becoming encrusted with hardness, weariness, compassion fatigue, creative dryness, and we seize up, ever hardening, never moving or growing. A heart that hardens ceases to love, and becomes encrusted with oughts (commonly referred to as a hardening of the “oughteries”), don’ts, must nots, and the bargaining of a negative mindset. What starts as protection of the self, becomes a coffin of stone that constricts. When I see that wheel, I want to chip away the calcite, to release the wheel and let it turn once again. I want to do that for those whose hearts have calcified too, but most of all I want to ensure I’m freeing my own. Only love chips away the stone of a hard heart.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

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Filed under beach, bush walking, history, life, mindfulness, nature, Philosophy/Theology, psychology, self-development

Constant Change

via Daily Prompt: Constant

 

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Heraclitus, a self taught and independent philosopher, once said: “Change is the only constant.”

He also said: “… you cannot step twice into the same stream.”

Simple, but true. However we often talk as if life is unchanging and permanent, yet everything, including ourselves, is changing. Life forms age, the universe is ever expanding (as Edwin Hubble was able to prove), planets are ever changing. Nothing is permanent.

Some people are uncomfortable with change, ironically it is a force of life. Change is about growth, transformation, adaptation, and without change we would lack spark. we would be lacking the very thing that can help ignite us. Change for the sake of change is never productive or positve, but change we attend to, are mindful of, will be part of our next step, our core energy.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Steam Punk Costume

via Daily Prompt: Costume

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(Photo: i.pinimg.com Maria Berseneva Photography)

Steam Punk is a sub-genre of science fantasy/science fiction, but is more commonly referred to as speculative fiction. It combines 19th century art and design forms, clothing in particular, with elements of steam powered machinery, and other mechanics of that era. It is, in short, a design aesthetic. Steam Punk proposes an alternative 19th century history, and is therefore anachronistic,  often set in Victorian England or the “Wild West”of America. Its philosophy is a combination of Victorian industrial progress and the hope of the 19th century art and literature. There’s a slogan that is used in Steam Punk circles – “This is what the past would have looked like if the future had happened sooner.”

It has been used in film, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’, ‘Wild, Wild West’, ‘Van Helsing’, ‘Hellboy.’ There are elements in the historical episodes of Dr. Who, and in the literature of Jules Verne

As with Cyber Punk and Cosplay, the costumes are a matter of personal taste and design.

I love the creativity of those engaged with the costumery, it fires the imagination, and I can see its appeal. I could look at this stuff for hours.

But my Steam Punk wouldn’t be Steam Punk, nor would it be a romanticised version of some era, though it would be a combination of eras and hopes, and therefore framed idealistically. My alternative history would be based around eschewing violence, all violence, from sexual, to gender, to poltical, playground (not sure if there’s a difference there), domestic, class, environmental, and well, violence. I want to see creative costumes of compassion, respect, care, inclusion and integrity. I want industrial strength love of all kinds. I want costumes that shout justice and mercy.

Johnny it's Rotten
punked, but not forgotten
the blossom weeps
©Paul

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under art, community, history, life, Philosophy/Theology

Suspicious?

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious

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One of Orwell’s famous lines in ‘1984’ “Big Brother is watching you” is the classic ‘art imitating life’ become life itself in a macabre twist.

Fear rules, and in several of our recent federal advertising campaigns, citizens were urged to report anything suspicious to the authorities. All aimed at refugee and imigrant groups, well let’s be honest, Muslims, and their behaviour, because you never know when they might try to enact a terrorist attack. Which reminds me – out of the eight supposedly terrorist incidents reported here in the media, three were found to have substance, and two tragically lead to death (notably, mental ilness was the significant factor and not religion or politics, and certainly not “terrorism”).

Minimizing crime and destruction is a good thing, but there will always be places where you can’t get a clear CCTV picture, or where the dots in an investigation can’t be joined. We have beome focussed on eradicating threat, and in essence we are really trying to nulify death itself, we are pop-insurance junkies. Yes, prevention is a positive ideal, but it isn’t a guarantee or a cure all.

My concern is that we are losing our focus. Feeding suspicion is divisive and destructive in its own way. We need to check our suspicion, what is the driving fear, the motive? Who is driving it? Who stands to gain?

Instead we need to build trust not division. Besides, a trusting community will be stronger than a suspicious community; it will develop an oppenness, a trust, respect and strong bonds, compassion and cooperation, and it will develop resiliance, so that when tragedy does occur, there is a strength to face it together, and not in fear.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Everything Is Permitted?

via Daily Prompt: Permit

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A quote is a quote is a quote, or maybe not. Vladimir Bartol included the words “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” in his well known novel Alamut. Many would know this to be central to the video game series Assassin’s Creed” and the creators borrowed this phrase from Bartol.

William Burrows borrowed it from Bartol and included it in his novel “Naked Lunch.” Batol’s phrase echoes Dostoevsky’s phrase in his earlier novel “The Brothers Karamazov” where the character Ivan Karamazov states: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” And this in turn is an echo of St. Paul’s theological reflection in his first letter to the people in the church in Corinth where he says: “You have the right to do anything, you say, but not everything is beneficial.”

For St. Paul and Dostoevsky the question is – do we need God/a god for ethical living? Which the two resolve in the affirmative. For Bartol (who sets his novel in 11th century Persia, and is a thinly veiled criticism of fascism and Mussolini), it is a statement that there is no ultimate truth (and perhaps, albeit, no god). Burrows follows a similar line in Naked Lunch in which totaltitarian forces are jostling for control. It is a disjointed book, presenting a disjointed world in which ethics is a moot point, and nothing can be trusted.

For me the question resolves easily. Nothing is true is unsustainable, it fails in that some things can be true (laws of nature, physics, law of gravity etc.). It is true for me at the level that there is no political utopia. There is no ultimate truth, because life is experienced as relational not as principle, so truth is variously understood through experience. God may be a question more than an ultimate truth for many, but as Dostoevsky makes clear, for some God/a god is one way of creating an ethical community.

For me St. Paul nails it by saying everything is permitted, but not everything is beneficial. This is the personal side of it, the ethical relational issue up front. The self must be considerd in the context of ethically living in community, where there are responsibilities as well as rights. In short it can be summed up as the non-harming principle, or as loving your neighbour.

So, nothing is true, but my neighbour is true, so not everything is permitted, or, not everything is beneficial. My neighbour, sister, brother, all living things, are true, and I must account for my behaviour towards them. Not everything is beneficial, but love is beneficial for all.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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You Can’t Say That!

via Daily Prompt: Stifle

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Photo: huffingtonpost.com

I wonder that we’ve ever really had true free speech. George Orwell’s experience in Spain (1936) was such that he portrayed both left and right as having stifled free speech in his novel, Animal Farm. Every form of totalitarian government has stifled free speech, but in recent times even liberal democracies have resorted to enacting laws that limit free speech.

In an interview in 2012 (The Telelgraph, October 18, 2012), Rowan Atkinson (aka Blackadder, Mr. Bean) tilted at the law in England – The Public Order Act. Atkinson criticised the “Creeping culture of censoriousness” and went on to point out that we have entered a time when it has become dangerous to protest. In other words we are losing our basic rights to speak out. He was not speaking in favour (as some tend to confuse free speech with the right to vilify and slander) of the right to say anything, especialy hate speech, but that we have gone too far, curtailing even basic free speech.

Atkinson claims that in trying to outlaw insult, because insult is difficult to define, we end up prosecuting one the basis of insult, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism, or even stating an alternative view to the status quo (the subversive, Orwell speaks directly to this in his novel 1984). In reality, in stifling free speech we end up with repression.

Many have paid for speaking out, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who criticised Joseph Stalin, was sent to labour camps by Stalin. Umberto Eco wrote in the ‘Name of the Rose’ (later a movie starring Sean Connery) how the Vatican maintained a list of books to be destroyed, how the church didn’t like criticism of the institution. The leaders of the French Revolution brutally repressed criticism. Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Castro, Pinochet, Mao, Idi Armin, Robert Mugabe, all loathed and tried to regulate criticism. In recent times Donald Trump has complained about free speech (which is ironic). Kim Jong-un carries on a tradition of repressing poitical criticism in North korea.

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill commented (‘On Liberty’ 1859, Penguin, pp 83 -84)  that we should not employ censorship because this would prevent people from making up their own minds (horror of horrors). Interesting thought, Mill clearly wasn’t frightened of public free speech, and he believed free speech wouldn’t cause the collapse of society nor descend to harm or hate. But there are worrying signs that liberal democracies are moving towards control of free speech by creating laws where criticism of government becomes an offence!

No one likes criticism, but surely that is no reason to be petulant and defensive and hide behind laws? Sometimes we need to push back, sometimes others need to push back against us. Criticism can sharpen us,  it can energise us, help us to refine our view, and help us to grow. Let’s not fear each other, but instead let’s embrace the idea that society, and in particular, people’s views, are not homogenous, and we won’t all agree, and we won’t like all that we hear and read about ourselves. Instead, let’s embrace the difference, let’s hold to the value of free speech.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Privilege

Privilege used to have a general meaning, that you had achieved a right by education, promotion, or sheer hard work. There was a clear pathway, others could see how you got there, and it generally revolved around integrity. But privilege was also connected to a process through community of some description. To be a leader meant that others knew you, knew you had integrity, knew you were for real. In education, especially tertiary, one must be constantly in dialogue and in research and writing, peer reviewed, and of those who worked hard it was that they had rubbed shoulders with many and got their hands dirty in the area or topic they were passionate about.

I’m not American, but I’m concerned that America has descended to privilege those not entitled to be. Take the case of the current president of the U.S. Donald Trump, a business celebrity who appears to be incapable of being a state-like leader. Of course there are a number of theories as to how he got elected:

  • Tough talk in a time of weak talk.
  • Promises to the disappearing middle-class.
  • Playing the race fear card.
  • Tough talk on defence.
  • Rhetoric: Make America Great Again
  • Crass talk: playing up the larikin male.
  • Religious manipulation: playing up to conservative Christians.
  • Not being Hilary: the backlash on privilege factor.
  • Voter participation was low.

And they’re just a few. I think tick all would apply. It says to me that, irrespective of who he is, Trump didn’t get there by hard work, education, or promotion. In my view, he has no integrity because he is clearly manipulative rather than consistent or open. Part of his getting there was his public persona, so he has traded on his celebrity status (if you’re thinking about Ronald Reagan, no matter your view of him, at least he got involved in state politics and worked at it).

Then comes the #Me Too campaign, an important step forward for victims of sexual abuse (and shameful for leaders, entertainers and others privileged by power). And up pops Oprah Winfrey. Now I quite like some of her interviews and some of her book recommendations, however, I really wonder if her Golden Globe moment (and I loved her speech) wasn’t with a view to self privilege, I have questioned if this was a deleiberate act (and maybe it was selfless). And I wonder that those Democrats who decried the nomination of Trump as shallow because he was a celebrity, are now being hyocritical by suggesting the nomination of Oprah to run for president.

My own view is that both Trump and Oprah are being privileged by status, power and money, neither are really political nor really connected to the real process of legislative leadership.

And it is my view that Trump and Oprah are constructs in the public mind, they are who the public want (need?) them to be, when more than likely, they are not anything like that nor capable of being like that (who is?). In the hands of poltical parties they are a product that can be marketed and thus consumed. My fave actor is Juliette Binoche, but while I love her work and some of her opinions, I wouldn’t want her to be president or prime minister simply based on my fascination for her as an actor. Same goes for the really wealthy, for example; Bill Gates, Warren Buffet. It leaves me thinking that celebrity is privileged not just by status and wealth, but also by liminance – that they evoke in us a warmth, a fondness, a feeling not unlike falling in love.

Privileging a leader is also about gain, those who privilege want to be privileged, a never ending sychophantic cycle.

So where is the integrity in leadership? And who will speak for those not privileged (including our friends – nature)? Who will set aside privilege in order to lead?

Paul,

pvcann.com

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