To Father Hawk

“How dare the many-headed, of so many colors,
Fruitful, flowering, leaving,
Banana tree grow?
Male parts and female parts standing erect in the common
Air and light

Cover their indecency!

I do not want to see the light,
If these flamboyant heads see it too.”

If there were a god who could fight all the glittering blades of grass
I would bow to that god.

On equality

Equality. Of people or even things is a very high and mighty ideal. I am not sure it is a beautiful ideal, it might even be a very ugly idea to have everyone the same to the point of equality. Equality is not synthesis, because things have to be different before they can join. Equality, on the other hand, is identity. A self that is self-same. Synthesis, such as colored lights mixing to become white light, is not about self, it is about acceptance of that which colors the light, or marks the white page. Synthesis is self-effacing, it is a form of love and union. Often when people try to talk about solidarity, a political attack will try to turn that talk into talk of equality. We think equality is a higher ideal than love and synthesis. Equality is certainly quite out of the question as far as anything achievable. The attack is to make someone who is an idealist, maybe a romantic, reach even higher for an even more impossible thing that a perfect love: that of equality, even though this higher ideal is arguably ugly in comparison.

Equality has a requirement of consistency. This is how logic comes into the equation. We leave our hearts behind, and begin a mathematical calculation. Possibly with money, possibly with merit, possibly with number of likes on facebook, or views of your online tutorial. We believe after an achievement, under the ideal of equality, (trade, pound for pound), that we get ahead of others with our work. Love on the other hand does not have the conceit of any measurable rationality. Equality is a principle that prevents our solidarity, because we require it before our connections are admissible. People will never be equal, we can blame it on our parents or our politicians, corporations or the weather. A philosophy that serves humanity should not have the requirement of consistency, because consistency is superhuman.

A desire for equality makes us recognize the world of inequalities. We may have a feeling of righteousness because of our high ideal, and a disdain for our world and its inhabitants for not living up to our ideal. Synthesis is quite different, because it means you are ready to be part of this world, to lose yourself in it, take it in, and let it take you in. This requires a lack of judgement and a lack of righteousness.

If we want to rule the straight white male, we must take him into ourselves. We must remember that he is already in us all, as we are in him. And for the straight white male to rule, he must not separate himself either. For marginal thinking of this certified insane author you are reading, and also for mainstream phallogocentric thinking, there is union in love’s awareness.

Rolling down a hill in a barrel

I believe Identity is a case of mistaken identity. We want to distinguish between the copy and the original, the unique person and his followers. We would like to think maybe Margaret Thatcher as embodying an ideal of neo-libralism, for example. She invites us to not care about others’ misfortune in favor of our own greed. She had the idea to change our souls this way.

Unfortunately when we try to find the unique person, we have other copies that are candidates for being the original unique. One school of thought believes that there is a kind of collective pack-mentality (not a conspiracy) of people who are like-minded. When they are public with their ideas, people want to pick one of the pack, when in fact this oligarch of an idea has no one leader, they are all copies of each other. There is no unique from which a copy was produced. “Where do the copies come from then?” you may ask. And the answer is that they come from previous copies that were dissimilar in some way. There was a culmination of similar copies that may make an original seem possible.

The whole idea of a Unique Identity depends on a beginning of the Universe, a One God that breathed life and can be inferred from the present, as so many theologians have tried to do.

If there is no beginning, there are no originals to begin with.

We are all copies, dissimilar and similar in different ways. like the wave, we keep crashing against the shore as if to battle the sand, but eventually we return deep into to the ocean and not the wave. The fight ends when there is no wave, no form… The end of form is the end of violence.

The deeper understanding, however, is that similitude and dissimilitude are a creative dialectic force for this world. People simply accept this dialectic without thought. The dialectic of similitude and dissimilitude is not necessary if we think outside of this world, this creator god, and manage an escape.

This escape depends on asking the question: Which is there, similitude or identity? Is an originality is possible, maybe from aliens? (haha) We grasp and stretch our minds to find this original, but all we have are copies to compare.

This does not preclude divine intervention. It just means that this creator god’s interventions are only true in the world the god created. The originality is not ultimate; it does not come from The Beginning.

We could build a house with copies and instructions, made from many copies of copies of ideas about house making. Materials are made to fit a copy all going into the achievement of a copy of shelter from nature. The ideal of the Buddhist monk, on the other hand, is to make a shelter within the mind. And it is better to build this shelter without depending on a house much.

An established monk can roll down a hill in a barrel full of spikes and his shelter to protect him will not have left him in that moment.

At the moment of the Buddha’s enlightenment he speaks of the metaphor of a house as a house of ideas and views:

Through countless births in the cycle of existence
I have run, not finding
although seeking the builder of this house;
and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth.
Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.
You shall not build a house again for me.
All your beams are broken,
the ridgepole is shattered.
The mind has become freed from conditioning:
the end of craving has been reached.

Dhammapada 11.153, 11.154

sandhāvissaṃ, anibbisaṃ
gahakāraṃ gavesanto;
dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ.
Gahakāraka! Diṭṭhosi.

Puna gehaṃ na kāhasi.
Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā,
gahakūṭaṃ visaṅkhataṃ.
Visaṅkhāragataṃ cittaṃ:
taṇhānaṃ khayamajjhagā.

Kimbundu nzambi

To those who have felt my pain and to those whose pain i have felt this is part of being a human to share our pain because we are friends and these bonds we make, bonds of sympathy, without them the world would unhinge.

May those that i have named and those not included in this naming only feel the effects of good fortune and may their minds know peace, learning peace even in the face of pain.

May those drawn with a fine horse hair brush be happy, may the heavy ones drawn with rough charcoal, who barely scrape by, may they learn to love again.

Those light beings that tickle us and tease may they learn the joy of stillness.

May this world drain peacefully into white.

More on interpretation

The most interesting part is at the end of this video shared with other poets at Deleuze talks about the world emitting signs and the importance of understanding these signs. In a fast conversation, as Deleuze describes, the signs are very rapid, and the other place where there are rapid signs is the animal world. I have entered the world of rapid sign interpretation, but I have decided to let go of what is not understood. We gather what we can gather and let slip what must slip away.

Most of what can’t be understood has to be filtered out. The filter that is usually given to us, the Cartesian filter of lines like on graph paper, create a world where zooming in for details is something measurable, at least until we get into Quanta. Then there is still measurable, rational knowledge to be had, otherwise nothing would be published on the subject.

This filter is very powerful and has a certain grip on the minds of the world, even on respected intellectuals I have met. Yet this filter was never proven to be logically necessary because Euclid’s parallel postulate was never proven. With the advent of non-euclidean geometries (that seem logically consistent) more than a century ago, and, further, the more recent advent of deductive logical pluralism, the Cartesian filter is old hat. In spite of this, including some famed follies of educators, people repeatedly try to prove it and sometimes convince themselves they did. Even top mathematicians of the 19th century did this. There is something so compelling about the Cartesian filter.

One problem with this filter is that it makes people believe they understand the signs coming at them, because of the automatic removal of signs that aren’t understandable to the Cartesian mind/world filter. Many “great minds” bent on knowing things can feel very knowledgeable with this kind of automatic ignorance. These “great minds” may give the impression that they know you, even though they do not. I would encourage anyone and everyone to NOT be taken in by this pretense. It is an aggressive method used against people who prefer not to judge rashly, such as the skeptic.

The mark of a genius is originality, and one fundamental form of originality is having their own filter. Accepting the Cartesian filter is a very difficult obstacle to people who are not meant to fit the mold. It is given to a genius to be a maker, and is always giving gifts of his originality wherever he goes. To a genius, producing is just part of his being in the world.

There is a higher mind to attain to, one that recognizes the interpretation of signs is a miserable state to be in. Just like how the Quantum Physicist’s idea that there is no Observer or “Self” was interrogated by excited Buddhists, only to find that these physicists were miserable people (For this the source is Goenka). They had an intellectual understanding of no-self, not a direct understanding. They had a network of signs that they felt they understood, and did understand in a way. Just not in a direct way, as one knows one’s self, one can understand directly no-self.

Attaining to this higher mind can be done by anyone, it does not require having an original filter. It does not require being a genius at interpreting signs. It requires meditation on the emptiness of signs, of the pleasure of watching them rise and fall. When you have attained to this higher mind, the signs you yourself emit almost take care of themselves. Still, there is a lot of work for me to do to take care of the signs I emit.

For the Gladdening of Good Folk

For Faith in Emptiness of Signs.

May all Beings Attain Peace of Mind.

The poet drowns in a blurred surface

The poet drowns in a blurred surface
Painted to look like water
The painter has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt
That 3/4th of an inch is repugnant to the nature of his bread crumbs.
All he has are crumbs and he feasts on them
Smaller and smaller, emaciated, he can’t find the right amount of blurriness.
He fails because thinks blurriness 
is an amount
He read Plato when his bread crumbs were bigger,
How he says likeness and difference are relationships between the same two things
Even though they are opposites
He wants there to be a degree for likeness and difference
So that he can ignore how little sense there is in the world
Therefore, beyond a shadow of a doubt,
He can never finish his painting.
Maybe 1/4 of an inch is a small enough crumb to stop.

the Naive, and the Mature

The Naive and the Mature is didactic in a useful way. The main barrier to intellectual growth is the idea of intellectual progress. Many people, for example, consider Zeno’s paradoxes to be solved by Calculus. One philosopher, the author of the book Zeno’s Paradoxes, considers these many people to be quite far from a good understanding of both Calculus and Zeno’s paradoxes. And children can sometimes come up with Zeno’s questions (they are only paradoxes to the mathematician, For Zeno, they are merely questions put to the mathematicians because they reduce a mathematician’s beliefs into absurdity/paradox.) Children would probably never come up with Calculus. There is a certain attitude of naiveté required to reject the very mature and also dishonest representations of movement and the whole/part relationship taught in a standard Calculus class in college.

Someone who is a pedant will naturally follow the pressure to assent to the representations of Calculus. I remember reading about how one math learner was “helped” to believe in the Axiom of Completeness, even though he was a smart math student studying advanced math, he was having a crisis of faith and needed to be “helped” not because he didn’t understand, but because he wanted to disagree with this axiom. This is how a normal Calculus class is dishonest. Disagreement isn’t really allowed.

There is a strange interplay between naivete and mature thought that is required to attain understanding in mathematics. So I can look at the idea of a limit, or the version of likeness used to build our number systems (equality), and if I criticize these ideas, I can be accused of being naive. In the face mathematical complexity and exactitude, its formal structure and its teachers with fancy salaries and forceful minds, all this pretension about mathematics is actually not complex. The pretense of mathematical complexity is as simple and naive as a simple question in critique of mathematics.

In my research I discovered some significant statistical results that students have an easier time learning logic when they are given alternative logics to compare with Aristotle’s logic. Learning Aristotle’s logic is not the point, or we would follow these results and start teaching alternatives to help them understand Aristotle’s logic. The point is assent, control, and to prevent too many people from having a different mind about things. That is why Aristotle’s logic has to be the only one taught. (even though probability is another fuzzy logic, and statistics follows another logic to reject null hypotheses.) These are labeled “theories” instead of logic, to prevent the inevitable dissonance with the message that there is only one kind of deductive logic.

The skeptic attitude is to learn everything about a certain subject, and then to decide that belief in these theories is too rash a decision. A skeptic, after 20 years of learning mathematics, has to reject it in the end, out of a sense of honesty.

It does take naivete to really see the troubles with mathematics. It requires that you trust yourself and can suspend all your learning to look at a simple idea in mathematics, such as a graph representing mathematics discontinuity or continuity. I would offer that this naive attitude is essential for learning, and anyone who stops learning because they know so much, doesn’t know anything.

Mathematical learning is the most forceful subject for conditioning people out of the skeptical attitude. So I have a written a dissertation on mathematics, and am accused of being naive when after all my education, I reject almost all of mathematical constructions. Not because disbelieving in mathematics is simple: skepticism about mathematics is most certainly a more complex attitude to take after so much learning on the subject. But in a way the pedants are right, I do take the air of the Socratic interrogator, and I daresay that attitude is less naive than acceptance of mathematics.

Full disclosure: I failed my Calculus I class twice, even though I learned some of it in high school, but went on to get an A in Calculus II, and a B+ in the easier Calculus III. Then I learned analysis over and over again. I never passed Calculus I, even though I have taught the subject to students many times.

The Orphan

Making distinction between machine and human is quite difficult. We are human and not machine only by a hair. If a human fails to notice this hair he is basically a machine… The etymology of the word robot is instructive. Even though etymology is almost entirely a work of the imagination, according to this imagination, the word robot traces back to the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word orbh (source: where orbh is also related to “work” and “slave”), related to the PIE Orbho which means orphan or more accurately “One without a father.” So if I may speculate a meaning from this… (it would be preferable to put this in verse to give it a hypothetical air): Someone fathers an automatic translator, and then the father goes away. His child is the technology of google translate. This child doesn’t know any more than what his father taught him. He can only be a servant, or slave. If the father places his benevolence within his child, then the child can grow and learn new techniques. He is not a robot. Now, who is your father? Christianity has a good answer to that. The Buddhist answer is similar. And the Buddha elaborates:

(Reference: SN 23.2)

Now, a robot has a physical body. It can perceive things with instruments that detect light or sound, etc. then it has an algorithm for its feelings or reactions to its senses. This means that it can generally recognize when it is time to laugh or cry and behave appropriately. Arguably, it has free will, because it has access to random numbers. (the random numbers a computer has access to are sort of pseudo-random, this is debatable). With access to random numbers it can make different decisions depending on when you ask it to do its task. (the “seed” used to make random numbers is usually made by using an extremely precise measurement of the present time, called “machine time”) The only thing missing is complete consciousness. It may have some partial consciousness if it is sufficiently complex…

However, can a robot feel wonder or amazement? This part of consciousness seems to be missing from a robot. Is there a sense of wonder when the slave does its work? The Buddha had an analysis of questions, the 4th category of questions are the big questions that are so big they are useless. A robot would never ask these questions because it would be of no use as a servant. Would we ever want to create a robot that can experience wonder? It would probably result in the robot doing work less well. On not working I have this to offer. Maybe a robot is wondering when it enters a calculation loop that is not terminable, but this would be against our own desires of what a robot ought to be.

This is my main entry into the teachings I have read about Buddhism, although there are teachings that allow extreme wonder about the mountains and trees, ocean and sand: about the physical senses. As my meditation teacher says, sometimes the practice involves looking at the world like a baby. The next step is wonder; wonder is how a baby begins.

The right amount of wonder should be “middle.” I do not mean an opening to all mysteries at once. The middle way is a difficult concept to pin down. The middle way is not the same as having a mediocre feeling. The goal of practice is extreme bliss. We would never get extreme bliss if we practiced a mediocre feeling all day. Same with the amount of wonder we may have… It would be better to leave some mystery to the concept of wonder.

An interesting mathematical example (similar to an example found in many math textbooks at the graduate level) of how difficult it is to seek the middle is the set of numbers I will describe to you now. Starting with on an xy cartesian plane, Place a point at y=1/2 and x=1/2, this point is the middle of the interval from x=0 to x=1. Then we continue to find middles, between x=0 and x=1/2, and between x=1/2 and x=1. These middles are found with two new points having y=1/4 and the x-coordinates are x=1/4 and x=3/4. If we continue this process of finding middles, there will be so many points near y=0, along the x-axis, that it is arguably continuous. However there are many many discrete points as well. It is arguably between continuous and discrete. This shows the difficulty of finding the middle.

And that middle is sometimes big and sometimes small, and sometimes it is something “off the continuum” (Ref Thannisaro Bikkhu 2012 ), depending on the relevant dichotomies, even the dichotomies of relevance and irrelevance. “Off the continuum” would be a situation of extreme wonder at ideas, since the continuum is another mere idea. I would venture to say that wonder is always part of experiencing beauty. A big question is often appropriate and can serve the purpose of beauty, and also truth, or not serve at all. It is enough to enter a state of wonder, as gazing at the stars wont serve any purpose, or being off any continuum of beauty, truth, love… any and all pairs of opposites in the cosmic dance.

Maybe a robot wonders when it enters a computational loop that isn’t terminable, but that would go against our own desires of what a robot should be.

Part of wondering is unlearning, as the ancients cherished “learned ignorance.” A robot can’t unlearn with its available faculties.

What is wonder, anyway? Why are we taught that wonder is anxiety? It can be a beautiful conscious state to be in. And why should we try to reduce our sense of wonder with scientific posturing and rhetoric about knowing so much (some of the things we consider knowledge can be the result of pessimism– such as the mathematical definition of the continuum.)

I believe this wonder is part of a poet’s work and part of a human translator’s work on poetry. This wonder of a human hand in working is conveyed to the readers, who experience something that is entirely human.

May this piece gladden good folk.