Archive for January, 2006

Agreeing not to agree

January 23rd, 2006

In a nice lecture series on human ecology (PDFs) I recently asked the lecturers and the audience what we can agree upon. My question was provoked since many lecturers repeatedly stressed the importance of diversity and tolerance. Anyway, my question was at most answered by silence.

So, I asked: “Can we agree upon the fact that we should agree upon something,” which in fact led to quite a discussion about what we might agree upon (for instance a discussion of indicators of sustainable development). One argument chased another only until someone asked why after all we have to agree upon something. Well, of course, they clearly see a need for diversity and alternatives, also in regard to strategies and opinions.

I then asked: “You mean we should agree that we should not agree?”

Do you answer? No. — An answer.

January 21st, 2006

No answer is an answer.” (rattus rattus : )
We can read this in many ways. Though, if one says “No.” I’d take it for an answer. Even if the question was: “Do you answer?

Luckily, this simple paradox again and again leads to fruitful discussions:

Karen Kastenhofer once sent in a quote of some lines of e.e. cummings:

when god decided to invent
everything he took one
breath bigger than a circus tent
and everything began

when man determined to destroy
himself he picked the was
of shall and finding only why
smashed it into because

Karen then asked if anyone dares to answer.

My immediate answer was: No.
Karen replied (maybe wittily) with “O.K., this [answer] was unmistakable. Does anyone else dare to answer?”

Some did and some did not. Yet, every answer is no answer and no answer is an answer. Thus, I wrote a poem as an answer to Karen and e.e. cummings:

Don’t search for contradiction in others, you have found it already.

there him was in her mind full
fear, hope and reason threaded
together a place that was and
because of her will – be

there where no man can reach
shall truth be kept hidden
for only trust in the was
keeps what began at a living

Or, as e.e. cummings is said to have written:
No need to “stand with your lover on the ending earth”.

Calvin: Starting my own blog

January 20th, 2006

A text from a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon seen 2006-01-19 on uComics featuring Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin announces:

I’m thinking of starting my own talk radio show.
I’ll spout simplistic opinions for hours on end. Ridicule anyone who disagrees with me, and generally foster divisiveness, cynicism, and a lower level of public dialog!

Hobbes replies:

It would seem you were born for the job.

Calvin adds:

Imagine getting paid acting like a six-year-old!

So, do you want to pay me? :->

Horizon being defeated

January 19th, 2006

When we just started to grow up, when we are yet a little child and everything around us is still big, huge, high, and tall, we have no idea what a horizon is. As time goes by, we get taller and taller and we overlook a lot more of what’s around us. As we start to actually see a horizon we get an idea of what it is and where it might be. Eventually we grow older and the horizon moves away, far and further, into the distance. So far, far away that … one day we find it again, in ourselves.

Whatever this means, it came up listening to “The Horizon Has Been Defeated” by Jack Johnson, to be found on his great album “on and on”.

Accusing someone

January 18th, 2006

If you accuse someone of accusing someone what exactly are you doing?

[For what it’s worth, this question sprang to my mind after seeing the mind-boggling film “Manderlay” by Lars von Trier.]

A few months ago, a close friend of mine pointed out to me that I did something wrong. Disgruntled, I objected: “I can’t believe you are blaming me!” — Well, maybe I shouldn’t have.

If I am blaming someone for blaming someone I might as well blame myself of blaming someone for blaming someone. And so on. We better stop here and now.

Epictetus said: “To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education.” Indeed, probably many are to agree. Do not accuse someone of accusing someone.

So, next time we hear of dictatorial governments that are intolerant of any opposition, when we hear of racial or religious intolerance, or worse, we shall be good and brave: We will tolerate intolerance. That’s the way we have been taught. Do not accuse others for your own misfortunes. Be not intolerant of intolerance.

How could we ever counter intolerance?

Garfield, why don’t women like me?

January 17th, 2006

A text from a Garfield cartoon seen 2006-01-16 on uComics featuring Garfield:

Jon asks:

Garfield, why don’t women like me?
They all say,
“Oh, Jon, you are so nice … You’ll make someone a wonderful husband,”
but I’m never right for them. Why, Garfield, why?

Garfield replies:

Because they’re lying to you, Jon.

Hören Sie nicht auf mich

January 17th, 2006

Wenn ich Ihnen einen guten Rat geben darf,
hören Sie nicht auf mich!

The Nonsense Box

January 16th, 2006

Imagine you have just found a beautiful box and you decide to put into it all that wonderful senseless stuff that compiled up all around over the years. On the box cover you write in big letters NONSENSE.

Of course, that makes sense. A box that holds nonsense in it might well be named after its contents as such. Certainly, we could argue about what nonsense means. But, let’s keep it simple. Let’s say, nonsense means that it makes no sense; that it’s stupid, confusing, and absurd. A nonsense text, for instance, could even be paradox, contradicting, or plain wrong.

No, wait, what does the cover say? It says that the contents do not make any sense. But the contents do not make any sense. That’s why we put them in the box. So, the box says that (its) things that do not make any sense do not make any sense. But it does make sense that they are in there.

You see, and this is also what flUxUs is about.