A Snapshot

Map of The InternetIn general, I am inclined to share Socrates‘ dislike of books. Wisdom is participation in a dynamic process, it is not a static state that can be attained once and for all. However, a book is unchanging. Socrates said of words in a book that they “seem to talk to you as if they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on telling you just the same thing forever.” From this perspective, the mutability of electronic media and the possibilities for ongoing collaboration offered by the Internet can be quite exciting. It was always my hope that this blog would be more of a dialogue than a sermon.

Nevertheless, at times I like to try to capture a snapshot of my thoughts.

  • I think it is impossible to speak about the world itself. We project our own frames of reference onto the world and then speak about them instead. It’s a bit like a digital sampling of an analog signal. (Actually, that analogy can be stretched quite far if one considers the notions of accuracy and validity.) As the Discordians say, reality is the original Rorschach test.
  • No-one is sure who first said it, but I consider the inscription over the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to be of the utmost importance: γνῶθι σεαυτόν (although I know at least one person who reads this blog might prefer the usual Latin translation: nosce te ipsum.) Perhaps surprisingly, following that imperative is an active endeavour that causes change rather than just a passive collection of information; and that is why I consider it so important.
  • Many employers attempt to entice applicants by claiming that they offer a good “work/life balance”. I don’t want that: I don’t want my work to be so alien to my life that they must be balanced. However, neither do I want to be defined by my work. I want my work to be a meaningful part of my life. I want my work to be part of who I am but not all of who I am. Nobody talks about having a good “hobby/life balance” – one’s pastimes are part of one’s life.
  • Money represents potential. It has no value in itself but it allows one to act. To be rich is to have the means to do more. Of course, potential is itself directionless – suicide is as inherently likely as deification. When considering the desire to acquire wealth, one must always ask “what for?” In my experience, if there is a need then the means to service that need can be acquired; if there is no need then an obsession with acquisition will do more harm than good. See Fehu and Naudhiz.
  • I’m very grateful to Apotropos for the link to Derrida’s essay for UNESCO:

    With this citation I wanted to suggest that the right to philosophy may require from now on a distinction among several registers of debt, between a finite debt and an infinite debt, between debt and duty, between a certain erasure and a certain reaffirmation of debt – and sometimes a certain erasure in the name of reaffirmation.

    And to Afagddu for his comments on loyalty:

    I see loyalty as a way of preserving a relationship with the things you positively identify with… Honour is a way of extending a protective element over that positive identification by absorbing what we’re loyal to into ourselves and treating it as if it’s a part of us.
    Amongst other things, of course.

  • As the Cthulhu cultist said, “Never summon anything bigger than your head.”
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Published in: on November 14, 2006 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. “seem to talk to you as if they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on telling you just the same thing forever.” Thats only the way a static person who rarely changes reads. And ofcourse its only if you understand everything that theyre going to just tell you the same things forever

  2. Well, yes and no. It depends on the book. In most cases, as you suggest, it is the reader that has changed and not the book. So the book in such an instance is just being used as a tool to bring something out of the reader; and it brings a different thing out of the reader each time it is read, as long as the reader has changed between readings.However, that inevitably means that sometimes the book does nothing. If the reader is in an incompatible state then the book brings nothing out of him. This is obvious: if it were not true then we would need only one book (ignoring for the moment books that merely list facts.) As it is, some books were vital to our development but now they are of little use; similarly, some books that were useless for us a while ago are now precisely what we need.So much better would be a book that could adapt itself to the state of the reader so that it is always relevant.There are some books which allow so many different levels of exegesis that they seem to be new books every time we read them, but such books are rare.But yeah, you’re right and so is Socrates. Hooray for dialogues.


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