Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gotta blog, gotta blog, gotta blog!

Right, it's been WAY too long since I've been here. No, I've no excuse. I've been banging away at my book, eating moar information, getting murdered by overenthusiastic Japanese swordsmen at kendo, butlering for my 2 kitties and playing far more Poxnora* than I'd care to admit, but really, I know I had time to blog, and I blatantly didn't. I am a bad person. For what it's worth, during this time, the short little posts that would usually be classified as 'fun stuff' have all ended up on my Facebook wall.

Anyway, I was thinking about a few things lately, and I'll bung a couple notes here to come back to later. Yes, I know, ardent followers of this blog (both of you) will know that when I say I'll come back to something later, "later" can mean any time between 3 days and the End of Time. But bear with me, there's lotsa stuff here, and I'll get back to some of it at some point.

Susan Blackmore's Conversations on Consciousness, pg 157, paragraph 4, Thomas Metzinger wonders: "Can science offer anything... to keep mass societies coherent after all these metaphysical ideas (in God or psychoanalysis or other substitute religions like that) have vanished, not only in professional philosophers and scientists, but in ordinary people as well?" On the front of fecundity, science, that is, the empirical mindset, has always been memetically weak seeing as it often flies in the face of instinct and takes a considerable amount of mental effort and discipline, not to mention honesty to wield. This level of intellectual prowess is not something that is accessible to the vast majority of humanity, hence the place that convenient myths (i.e. God) occupy in their minds. How can science realistically fill the gap? This leads me to my next horrible little demon haunting me...

The Malthusian nightmare is inevitable. Humans will eventually breed too much to the point that scarcity becomes enough of an issue for major global conflict to erupt. As things are, humans consume more than is sustainable. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, were it not for certain things that make the problem intractable, such as:-

Population:- Seriously, every other issue humans face is secondary to this one. If humans do not reach a stable equilibrium with our environment and our numbers, and hence consumption, continue to grow, we are fuct.

Capitalism:- This isn't so much a problem in and of itself, but what it does, is magnify the effects of everything we do. Between banks, fractional reserve systems and derivatives, insane amounts of money are created out of nothing, yet drive tremendous numbers of people to consume more.

Ignorance:- If I recall correctly, it was Marcus Aurelius who said "It is good to frequently consider the connectedness of all things" or words to that effect. Can't be arsed to look it up right now. The thing is, people don't. No really, they don't. Who the hell looks at an iPhone and considers for one moment what it really takes to manufacture such a device? The oil extracted to produce the polymers of its casing? The various mines dotting the globe digging up the rare metals forming the cunning alloys in the circuitry? The resources spent training the engineers who designed such a piece of technological wizardry? I confess, I never really thought much about it either, until I saw something on BBC News about this student who undertook a project to built a toaster from scratch, starting with going up to a British mine and asking for some iron ore. I'm not sure if he successfully built said toaster, but it made me think long and hard about just how far our desire for stylish and clever gadgetry reaches.

I was sitting in a traffic jam while it rained today. It had been hazy for some weeks (thanks a lot, Indonesia) and I was thinking how someone with a more poetic soul than mine might anthropomorophize the whole affair and say something about the rain washing away the dirt and grime of KL, cleansing, purifying, coming down ever so hard because the filth runs so very, very deep in Malaysia. Then somewhere in my head, a switch flicked on, and this world fell apart, replaced by one in which the rain simply was. It was the direct result of the confluence of temperature, humidity and air pressure, precipitation forming massive tropical raindrops from the vapour of some distant ocean or other, maybe some of it from the Straits of Malacca, probably beyond, gathered here in the rain shadow of the mountain range making up the spine of Peninsular Malaysia. It comes and falls without a will or intent, but simply because that is what it does. It is one of innumerable unwavering parts of the beautiful machine that is the universe, as am I, sitting in my car, watching the rain.

Anyway, there you have it, a wee handful of the stuff infesting my brain and scrawled in various languages on my notebooks. Pen and paper, mind you. I refer to the doohickey I type on as a laptop and the paper things I scribble on as notebooks. Tsk. I just read through this post again and now I don't know how to classify it. So I won't. More to come later, hopefully a bit more organized.

* But I still suck...

1 comment:

Beak said...

Welcome back! It's about time...