Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Log on Fire

Another day, Another log on the proverbial fire. Or, to be literal (which I feel compelled to be, as of this writing), another log on my blog. Welcome, I hope you find my camp agreeable.

I want to explore about an epiphany I had while trudging through the snow on the way home from school. I have recently become fixed on setting the record straight. We all encounter this, I think, on occasion; whether it's a grade that was not recorded, whether you were given incorrect change, misquoted or (as was my case) misunderstood.

As I was thinking on this "injustice", and how I was wronged yet again when trying to right myself, it occurred to me does it really matter?

Of course I am inclined to say "yes, it matters!". I'm not one to make mountains out of molehills. Given the gravity of the matter, the consequence of this injustice which was weighing on my mind wasn't exactly something I could just shrug off. Yes, it mattered. That was the whole problem though; it ONLY mattered to me.

And what all was said? "Doesn't matter". Except that you should know that I feel it immensely important that I am not misunderstood. And that I was told that it "doesn't matter" if I am or have been misunderstood. And also, that my inclination to demand understanding is a symptom of my tendency to be controlling. Does it matter if this person is wrong?

Then it occurred to me. My need to be understood is not one that can be met by anyone. My truth is of no consequence to anyone else in the world.

Bear with me, I'm not about to get impractically philosophical, or forlorn. This is actually a very sober thought, and may be forlorn by many people's definition, but it is realizations like this that inspire self-improvement.

My need to be understood may very well be born of a disposition to be controlling. But it is delusional to seek to be understood entirely. True understanding never happens between two people, because we have an imperfect language system. Every emotion, every thought, is only understood in a general, ballpark sense.

This "ballpark understanding" may suffice in 99% of our interactions, because it's not of vital importance that we are able to convey EXACTLY what we sense or think. But there are those times that we need to be understood. And it's just tough luck, we are unable to convey it (completely) by any means.

The second part of that epiphany "My truth is of no consequence to any one else in the world.", requires that I define what I mean by Truth. This thought may be the real epiphany.

Truth is this abstraction that almost everyone takes (or mistakes) for a very definite (if intangible) reality. But there's a difference between Truth and Reality. Truth is everywhere, it is in everyone. We all have our truth, we all speak our truth and we would all like to think that we know the truth.

But "truth be told", truth is not reality—not necessarily anyway. I've known this for a long time now. Someone can tell the truth without telling an actuality.

Most think that the "Truth" is the be-all, end-all argument—something against which all else can be weighed and measured. but there are multiple truths, and no one is more correct than another. Truth is subjective and elusive, but we somehow believe it is a concrete reality.

Concrete "reality" on the other hand, isn't given due credit. Reality's plight is actually (suddenly a weighted word to use) the opposite of Truth's; it is very apparent, often tangible and harsh. Unforgiving. But reality is often questioned more than truth. Especially when the question of truth comes up.

I have a truth, and I want for someone to understand and acknowledge it.
Instead, I am told of a reality.
I reject this reality, certain that the truth is more important.
But suddenly I realize, reality is truer than truth.

Say my truth is that I am a kind, caring person. This truth can be shared by others too.
But what if my truth is challenged? Someone else's truth is that I am, indeed, NOT a kind, caring person. Now we must assume that this claim has a basis for whoever has made it. If this person says "you were unkind to me" can I really say they're wrong? Their truth is that I was inconsiderate, can I trump this with my declared truth: "I'm a kind, caring person"? No. The reality is that I have been unkind, and uncaring. And it is of no consequence to them or anyone else if I believe differently.

I'm always long-winded, repetitious and, no doubt, boring. So I'll stop here and leave you to ponder it yourself. Let someone show you what is real, because your sense of truth is little to go on.


cease your cries
dry your eyes

sow your dreams
rip life's seams

make a choice
raise your voice

take no abuse
make no excuse
play fast and loose

do no one harm
love to disarm

take time to listen
just listen

seek to serve
have nerve

seek to understand
observe firsthand
another land

never cease 
to make peace
catch and release

search your soul
make a new goal
learn to console

make a checklist
don't resist

share what you think
exchange a wink
share a drink

share someone's load
share your abode
share the road

open your heart
make art

mind your mental health
be mindful of self
share the wealth

Friday, July 29, 2011

Final Theory

I'm sure, if you've talked to me philosophically in the past two or three years, you've heard one of my rants. A popular one to blog about is how the human experience boils down to a dilemma between self-interest, and social obligation.

Chances are, you've heard me talk about semiotics, and the subjectivity of sign systems. How we are unable to communicate absolutes. 

If you've talked to me in the past year, you've probably heard me talk about the natural world, and modes of perception. You have, no doubt, heard me use the sine wave to describe human communication, thought patterns, states of being/mentalities, and others. "It's all about wavelengths".

Yes and no.

I have recently had the experience of observing the natural world in wave form. Never you mind what this entails. I have observed the universal laws of nature in their own right, without sign systems to represent them. I have felt the mathematics of it all, so to speak. 

The thing is, wavelengths are a mathematical interpretation, and therefore a sign system which just will not suffice. In the system of sine waves, we recognize a 0-value. but I'm here to tell you that this theoretical "zero" does not exist in the laws of nature.

Let's say you want to tell me how tall you are. You would probably use imperial units of measure. let's say you are exactly 6 feet tall. These units of measure are a sign system which would, in most instances of human interaction, be determined to have a shared meaning. However, the fact is, that there is no agreement on what constitutes these units of measure.

Well how much is 6 feet? I ask.
It is 72 inches.
How much is an inch? 
It is 0.08333333 ft.
Very well, there is a defined relationship between the two. But what is an inch constituted of? how is an inch broken down?

we would continue in this fashion, down through millimeters, micrometers, nanometers, etc. Until we came arrived at atomic structure.

What is an atom?

Traditionally, an atom is something which cannot be broken down further. But modern science has shown us that the atom is made up of yet smaller particles, therefore, it can be broken down further, by dividing the nucleus into protons and neutrons. These, in turn, may be broken down into units of measure, varieties of quarks. which can also be measured. As it happens, 1 yoctometer, is one/one-hundred thousanth (1/100,000) of the diameter of a proton or neutron. 

But what makes up a yoctometer?

I'm sorry if this whole thing insults your intelligence, the point is, our arbitrary sign systems can continue to come up with signs to represent the size of something, but on an infinitesimal scale, there is no way to ever quantify the universe, as every quantification would have to be qualified with a unit of measure, and so on.

How is it relevant? Is it truly necessary to measure beyond the cells of the human body? In this mortal realm, isn't what determines everything else we know or do, based upon the question 'is it alive or dead?" If it is alive, then all is well. And if it is dead, then 'well' becomes irrelevant to the deceased. In this case, shouldn't we need only consider the individual himself? living or dead? 

Let's see. What does the word "individual" mean? The root isn't that hard to sniff out, it's related to the theory of atomos, or atoms. It is indivisible. incapable of being divided. since we know that you and I are capable of being divided into smaller parts, then we know that we are not individuals. Then who are we? Are we the sum of our collective, infinitesimal matter? but what is that matter? what about beyond that? If we cannot conceive of the infinite measure of "matter", then should it matter?

Does it matter so much that the Hadron Collider is a danger to our existence? Maybe. What if we understood the universe completely? Is it possible to do with science? A system which operates on classification and measurment? In this paradox, even the quantum realm is given limits. A finite system attempting to explain infinity.

I believe that the true nature of the universe is something that cannot be discovered with microscopes. Nor can it be explained "a man in the sky created it" simply because it is a claim as unknowable as infinity. No, there is definitely more to be discovered than what constitutes a hadron particle, or what constitutes that which constitutes a hadron particle. If mankind were truly designed by a god, we would possess the ability to comprehend that god. If we we comprehended god, then we would understand what god is made up of. And what gave him the capacity to design the universe. If god created the universe, then he created the laws on which it functions, and if he created the laws on which it functions, then he must understand them completely. But then again, he would have to understand the ability of his own existence prior to that of the universe. What you end up with is infinite regress. Unless that paradox is resolved, you and I are every bit as capable as any god, which isn't much at all. 

Signs fail. measurement is a system of signs. If you want to understand it, try not "measuring" it at all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A review of Sound

I had an assignment to listen to a performance by an orchestra of Ravel's Bolero. since I don't really have an ear for critical, or analytical listening, I decided to approach it as an English assignment; Enjoy.

I should probably mention that I am partially deaf in my right ear. And, as it happens, I am just getting over an ear infection in my left ear. So, to be honest, I listened to this 3 times without being able to hear the difference between the first several instruments; I have never really been able to identify timbre within a given family of instruments, besides guitar (i.e. acoustic vs classical). I finally found a filming of a recording of Bolero by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which helped me see the different instruments.
Link here: (performance starts around 11min 30sec)

Obviously I knew from the list of instruments in the assignment description that Flute was first, but like I said, I cannot tell the difference between most woodwinds. I was even tricked by the video, wherein a flautist appears to be playing his flute (although he may in fact just be keeping time or something) but the camera then pans to reveal the clarinetist is actually the one playing. The instruments that stood out to me, as it turns out, were the switches between instrument families (with the exception of the Saxophone, which I have only just learned is not a member of the brass family).

The Soprano saxophone is recognizable to me because of my grandmother's extensive collection of Kenny G (I don't think I ever heard her listen to anything but Kenny G and Richard Clayderman). But, I fear I lack a vocabulary to describe its tone. Except that it reminds me of the soundtrack on the animated version of "The Wind and the Willows".

The Piccolo always surprises me at how very high-pitched it is. I was able to recognize it when it finally came in, but I actually mistook the second entry of the flute for it, because i forget how very piercing the its tone is.

The next instrument I was able to recognize was the Trombone, which is unique because of its "slide" tone, where the notes are not so much/always "jumped" between. it reminds me of an elephant's—none in particular—trumpeting sound. It also has a very wide range that starts to sound like a tuba toward the end of its solo.

Lastly, the strings are recognizable because of their unique style, which is a mixture of quick, clippy notes and notes that are held out longer. They also have a wid versatility in volume, and the vibrato is also characteristic.

The mood of the piece make me think of a cadence for a militia. The drums feel like a marching beat, and the piccolo always makes me think of civil war movies, though it is more relaxed than a marching cadence.

The tempo remains the same for the majority of the piece, and the various different instruments remind me of the idea of sampling, or demonstration. As if the composer were trying to pick the right instrument to compose the piece for, and held auditions, to which all kinds of anthropomorphized instruments show up, and  sort of try to one up each other in the rehearsal room, eventually forming gangs based on their familial ties, and ultimately ending with a battle.

The intensity builds dramatically toward the end of the piece. but it is a very subtle build in the rest of it. When the groups all come in, and the volume increases, is the first time that I, as a listener, become aware that it has gradually been building up to that point.