The Problem of Abundance

So much information to consume;
So many directions and possibilities.

The exuberance lasts for a while,
But fades in the absence of mystery.
Exploring fruitless avenues is disheartening,
Only to be compounded by the totality of knowledge that both exists and is accessible.

How am I to ever chose a topic that is of both interest and relevance without slowing being dragged down into rabbit holes and quagmires of concepts?

I yearn to create;
To produce something that is new;
To intake information, digest it and synthesize something of substance — something of worth.

But how do I determine what is of worth without simultaneously needing to know about meaning, morality and how one ought to live?

For how can I navigate the myriad of information available to me without also needing to determine how that piece —despite how small it may be — fits together and manifests itself in the world?

God and Order

Our world is ruled by disorder. Ask a physicist why time is perceived as flowing in a direction and they will say it is due to entropy, which merely is a scientific way of saying disorder.

The universe is increasing in disorder (entropy), thus time appears to flow in the direction of past to future. In the past, there was less entropy and, therefore, more order. In the future, there is an increasing amount of disorder.

Take this from a cognitive perspective for a second. Your past is comprised of events that happened. They feel more concrete and solidly grounded in existence, because we know (or believe ourselves to know) that these certain events did in fact occur. Now, go the opposite direction and think towards the future. The future is ruled by probability. Thinking of the future from the present is like running probability simulations of what is likely, or possible, to happen in our lives.

The real question becomes: Why was there order to begin with?

In the opening lines of the Bible, it gives rise to the notion that, before there was light, there was a great void, formless and dark. In this primordial state, we find a state of complete individualization — even all the particles are in isolation, as to have yet formed a connective bond to one another.

It is this initial bond that fulfills the verse of “‘Let there be Light'” (Genesis 1:3).

A non-Biblical analogy is the science of your brain. Think to that first neural connection forming in a burst of energy. This initial burst of life cannot be understood, nor meaningfully explained. And, even if we somehow could meaningfully describe life itself, it would encapsulate all the words that have ever used to describe life. It would be all that ever was. Regardless of the mechanism of how, the result was that your brain formed neural connections and has continued to do so throughout your life forming neural networks.

 

The Paradox of Existence

We are always being torn in two. We live within the tension between opposing forces. Life involves both the processes of living and dying happening simultaneously: Some live to die, and others die to live.

We live a paradox and we are one. We both desperately want to be free but are paralyzed by the true totality of what freedom means. We want to find love but find it terrifying once we are actually truly in love with someone whose well-being directly dictates our own. We seek truth at all cost, except when the truth is far more unbearable than the majesty of our fantasies.

We live this way because existence comes with the knowledge of knowing that we may someday not exist (or, at least, exist in an entirely different form). In the forefront of our minds, we live; but, in the background, we know that we may cease to exist someday. To some this may scare, while others don’t care; but, nonetheless, the thought is ever presently there.

A Man’s Role in Social Change

Tony Porter references “the man box” as a list of assumed characteristics of a man that are imposed upon men through socialization. He talks throughout the video about this stereotype of men that they cannot show weakness because this shows vulnerability, and this leaves the individual’s identity susceptible to attack. Therefore, the remedy provided by this stereotype is to stuff down emotions repress them, and the repression of emotion is a prized characteristic among men; it illustrates what means to be a ‘man’ because it is supposed to illustrate strength. However, I believe it does quite the opposite.

Suppressing emotion does not show strength, it shows cowardice. The acceptance of emotions and walking out into the uncharted waters of vulnerability show courage and bravery. Real strength lies in the ability to be comfortable and secure, while simultaneously being vulnerable. I believe we should be fostering the traits of resiliency, sensitivity, hardiness and adaptive self-regulation in both men and women. However, the dominant narrative self-perpetuates through culture.

My mom was the strongest caregiver of my life and my most influential role model. She encouraged the idea that there are times to be tough and there are times to sensitive. But toughness was not strength and sensitivity was not weakness. Instead, she prized perseverance as strength. It was not about never having problems or being invincible to struggles; it was about addressing them and handling them properly. It was not about not having fear; it was about handling fear with courage.

However, I still have to work to overcome what feels like a built in script of this “man box.” It serves as a point of reference – a template for ‘manliness.’ A template that I believe has largely been impressed upon me through a combination of cultural influence and socialization. I think much of this idea of “manhood” is transmitted unconsciously and, therefore, only resolved through awareness. However, awareness alone is not enough to uproot erroneous world views. It also requires action. Tony Porter’s uses his horrific anecdote to demonstrate how all men take part in this “collective socialization” which allows for violence against women. Therefore, it is the impetus of all men to change this social paradigm.

Reference: https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men

Binary Oppositions

“You are an expression of your culture.” – Stephen West

Binary oppositions help us navigate the world but breakdown when forced to interpret the signified or thing referenced. If you say is this shirt clean or dirty? We know but if we say is mars clean or dirty we don’t know what to do with it. The binary opposition of clean or dirty are still there but the signified object has changed from shirt to mars. The meaning then does not lie in the terms or the rule but in the relation between the terms and their governing rules.

How does the term operate under those perimeters? Can it be answered? Or does it need further inquire? Better yet, how many signified objects do we use daily that more than likely need further analysis? We need to first understand both the operator and operated upon before we can understand their byproduct of meaning.