Archive for May, 2009


Sludge – The mire of life

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As Nano-seconds pile one on top of another, spilling through microscopic cracks in space, we count the illusory hands of time, mapping the motion of particles in memory, nourishing and sustaining synaptic branches with well rehearsed and entrenched routine. Along familiar tracks, the momentum of our lives places significance between points in space, creating a niche where the infinite earns a spot, a place, and a home. A spot in memory, an eternal bookmark linking dots together, perhaps for the sole reason that time doesn’t feel so old. In this same tired trajectory one cannot help thinking how to deviate away from the same worn path and onto another, another less defined and somehow new. To save oneself from placing another X on a calendar which resembles the exact same X that was placed on it the day before.

Tomorrow another day, which is yet to exist but in our sense, a feeling is well and truly embedded, that space has reserved a special place for us, a place for another sequence of dots, so the process of mapping motion can begin anew. The smell of familiarity wafts from beyond, a stink, a strong aroma, decay stings our nostrils, which is the death of what was, missed and left to decompose, like the trash and obsolescence we so readily dump into landfill. Certainly it makes the idea of living 60, 70 or 80 years seem superfluous. Consider the vast bulk of days we spend doing the same thing over and over, a same daily routine filling in time before sufficient dots have joined to cash in superannuation and maybe live and enjoy if our health permits, a couple of years in retirement and then die. Not so dissimilar to the journey of consumable to landfill which offends the nose. I don’t know, maybe I’m being overly pessimistic in my naval gazing tonight but sometimes it seems that living for such a long time is somewhat over rated, when the only thing worth living for, is the end of the week, when one isn’t required to be present for work or career or duty or whatever you want to call the crawl we slime our way through, from 9 till 5, five days a week.

Although weekends are predominately uneventful, I still appreciate the small time away from not having to perform a job that doesn’t really satisfy the sense of fulfilment I seek but never find? The weeks are back on that same roller-coaster, a downhill slide to somewhere no one wants to be; maybe it’s all the talk of economic downturn, recession and gloom dragging my enthusiasm into the mire of self pity and doubt. Things have been slow and as they say, "the mind is the devil’s workshop" and in idle times my mind wanders, when it does, the result is always the same, a descent into the nightmare of self. In my experience with aloneness and in dreams of freedom I’ve come to know why so many prefer the mindless chatter of peers; to stifle the scream of silence and its promise of something more. It is perhaps why meditation is such a hard discipline to follow, because in the dead calm of silent reflection one becomes aware of the void and the voice within, that knows, the true nature of existence, the timeless eternity of nothingness that beckons us all in the dead of night.

I’m getting all philosophical tonight without the intention of being so, but my thoughts are dwelling on this nothingness, which has been a recurring theme in my nightmare past. Thinking of nothingness now, there seems to be parts of eastern philosophy I appreciate and hold with some esteem; however reincarnation or reaching enlightenment and nirvana isn’t one of them.

I like the idea of nothingness and also the idea that attachment is the cause for suffering but disagree with the notion that living a compassionate and good life will be rewarded with nirvana or non existence. I think everyone achieves this regardless of how morally or immorally one leads their life. It’s called death. Death, the detachment of sense and awareness providing the nirvana which everyone reaches just because they were born. It is an equal opportunity arbitrator of reward and unlike more finicky god heads, Death turns no one away. There is no coming back as some other life form, and no eternal consciousness or spirit that lives on after death; there is just the decomposition of cells and the turning of brain mass into incomprehensible sludge. After this life there is nothingness, almost like we never came into being.

However, saying everyone has the exact same opportunity to achieve reward beyond, regardless of moral fortitude, isn’t an attractive way to gain converts to a belief system or philosophy which teaches a moral life. So it’s understandable, although odd, that dangling of some sort of carrot or appealing to one of humankind’s greatest motivators: fear, is necessary to gain acceptance of a particular creed. I find it peculiar, although not surprising how fear seems to offer greater motivation in the adoption of a belief, although perhaps it is merely human nature to react more strongly to fear. For example, would a person or a people be more inclined to live morally because they’ll be more loving and compassionate by following a particular method or is it more inspiring when confronted by some great pain resulting from not following? It seems to me that a great many teachings have adopted this either/or proposition. Take religion for example, they all appear to possess this “or else” mentality, either you follow the way or you will suffer, whether it be in a fire and brimstone Hell or coming back to live another sentient life complete with all the sorrow and suffering it invariably invokes. How many say they believe because believing will make them more loving? I suggest it is fear which motivates people the most. On the surface we are essentially selfish creatures so it makes sense that we would rather save our own asses before appealing to compassionate altruism. It goes even deeper than just salvation in an afterlife, you need only look at self help or personal improvement and growth, the same message is spoken, either you follow this set of instructions or you remain in the same place prior to seeking improvement. The message is always the same and they all have the common thread of claiming to alleviate suffering and who doesn’t want to alleviate the bad things in life? But do we really have to move the cure to a realm outside of life, in an afterlife or a moment in the future?

What all these religions and self improvement new age spiritual packages offer is therapy, a way to minimise suffering and avoid existential malady by giving one hope for something a little more grand and an escape from the mediocrity and hopelessness of the present. I don’t doubt that some even deliver on this promise but the journey to achieve detachment from one’s suffering isn’t an easy one and is probably beyond the effort most people care to expend, placing energy and time in nurturing a deeper understanding of the relative nature of attachment to emotional disturbance is more than modern society is willing to allow. What I’m trying to get handle on is why we so often desire an escape from the existential dilemma that life is suffering when ultimately to be free from it means not to exist. We can try and minimise the turmoil by practising some meditative process but we can never be completely free from life’s trials and tribulations and I suppose no one is really suggesting the like but sometimes one is lead to believe that some consolation is on offer in the form of ideology often shrouded amongst nonsensical dogma. Hence my musing on nothingness as the permanent solution to suffering and it has some consolatory appeal when life seems too complicated and worry is pestering the psyche with authoritative tones.

However it is rather negative and unappealing, even though it makes sense given that we know we die and have yet to experience anyone that has come back from beneath the ground to tell us otherwise. Only in myth is it possible for the dead to rise but the nothingness theory still has some flaws. Nothingness is something not readily identifiable as a concept one can grasp in its entirety because even when we believe there is nothing there is something. Things like Virtual Particles – Anti Particles and Casimir Effect suggest that nothingness has something. We can imagine nothing as being the absence of something but even then; to have nothing at all is not intuitive in the same way as the infinite is intangible. Nevertheless we do have some conception of nothing and it is this which I’m interested in, whilst making the paradoxical note that we didn’t come from nothing so it is not conceivable we become nothing when we are gone. We can think of nothing but really there is something even if it is nothing. So the something that we cling to can be imagined as mind, or consciousness or soul and when we die it is effectively gone and it makes no sense for it to remain intact in some other dimension without the material from whence it came, our flesh and bone, so the nothingness of nirvana can be reasonably deduced to be the absence of this mind stuff.

Although I did say I didn’t believe in reincarnation there appears to be an essence of truth in the idea. The material stuff decays and is reborn, not as some image of former self but as stuff, just smaller stuff to what we once were. Particles to be used again by the universe in whatever way she pleases, so in that respect, there is a level of recycling but not necessarily as living form. Perhaps a tiny part of us will breathe the air as a living creature somewhere in the vastness of space/time but we can be sure that we won’t be aware of it, so we can safely say it is the nothingness we all hope to achieve as freedom from suffering that was caused by the attachment of consciousness to material stuff. Although meditation may perhaps help in removing ourselves from attachment and prayer to externalise our suffering towards another we will ultimately still be caught within the paradox of wanting to live without suffering when suffering is brought about by life. Some claim suffering is optional but it is not. Consciousness assures we experience pain, loss, sorrow and what good is it not to experience the hollows of the soul and hear the echo of what it is to live?


To be continued………..

Category : Rants | Blog

Easy Come. Easy Go!

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My Kevin 37 bonus tax payment came and went. So much for stimulating the economy with it. I hope the wretched people at NRMA Insurance spend my insurance dollars in a manner that will prop the economy up in a more enduring way than I have. I’m thinking that the cost of registering and insuring my car seems disproportionate to its value. My insurance company claims the market value of the old Hyundai Elantra is roughly 10 grand while it cost me $1500 just so I can drive the damn thing. And where does my tax dollars go? With petrol excise, registration, green slip and insurance costs perpetually on the rise, I never seem to see any improvement in the quality of Sydney’s roads. 🙁

Well somebody in these hard economic times is raking in the dollars and it sure as hell aint me! But no one ever said the privilege of driving an automobile was ever going to be cheap and the amount of money that is sunk into these pieces of scrap metal on wheels is staggering. Not even in the monetary sense, the ongoing price these metaphorical penis enlargements inflict upon the environment leaves the carbon traders drooling as tax dollars come their way. That is, once we stop fucking around. Procrastinating about the damage the trading scheme will impact upon the bottom lines of industry polluters and global money markets isn’t doing the eco system any favours. It is high time we started paying these taxes to the environment! But what’s all the hype really about? To be honest, I really don’t have much of a clue on how the carbon trading scheme works let alone how it purportedly is going to reduce carbon emissions.

Thousands Protest Global Warming by wstera2

Thousands Protest Global Warming by wstera2

As a layman in the whole climate change debate (if one can call it a debate) I can only go with what the media feeds me and a certain level of faith needs to be directed at the media which hopefully is being informed by scientific inquiry whom one hopes is basing its analysis and prediction in an unbiased objective way . But can I really be sure that what’s being said, really is the truth? I can’t. What it all boils down to is the question of whether or not I trust the information being filtered down to layman, such as myself, as truth, or at the very least, the closet thing to truth we presently have. But perhaps when faced with such devastating consequences playing Pascal’s wager is not a bad philosophy to be guided by and ultimately it may be better to play it safe rather than sorry. Regardless of truth, to err on the side of caution may be the only hope humanity has in evading the wrath of nature as she thrashes and convulses in the throes of our abuse.

So we have the carbon trading scheme being touted as the definitive solution to global warming but how exactly will charging a tax on carbon change how much of it ends up in the atmosphere? This is the part I have trouble with because we seem to be applying a bandaid fix to a gash that is bleeding profusely and almost certainly needs more than a bandaid to patch. Is our only hope in the form of an idea or presumption that by increasing the cost of carbon it will somehow reduce consumption? How much sanity is behind this thinking? What alternative do we have but consume the energy given to us? To believe that increasing the cost is going to curb the demand seems ludicrous. Our society and living standard, our whole growth fixation depends upon energy and increasing the cost will do little to dampen our addiction to it. Perhaps if the price rises too high then it will produce an effect which is experienced by heroin junkies in times of famine, where substituting one kick for another is standard practice. But what alternative do we have? What substitute is there for kicking a fossil fuel addiction?

Mining, oil and gas will invariably just shift the cost to the consumer under a carbon trading scheme, so we’ll just be taxed more for what we need to maintain our lifestyle. Will we use less? I don’t think we will. So are we destined to be stuck at square one? Or will the dollar drive a demand for alternative energy, which is taxed less and thus cheaper for the consumer? Perhaps this is what the scheme is bargaining for but will it eventuate? The 64 thousand dollar question. Will innovation and technology rise to the challenge to provide a cheap, renewable and alternative energy? Because the social impact if it doesn’t is surely that we’ll fall further into class divide; those that can afford energy and those that can’t. Developing countries will certainly be hit the hardest and remain in perpetual poverty while the divide between the haves and have nots widens to epic proportions.

Only time will tell if the Carbon Trading Scheme takes foot and as we procrastinate, analysing the pros and cons of such policy, more carbon is pumped into the air. It’s a shame politics is the determining factor  in how climate change is managed when we all know political policy is myopic in nature. What really needs to be done is development away from fossil fuels into sustainable renewable energy. But unfortunately the political arena is in bed with industry which produce the carbon energy we so eagerly use while ambivalently wanting to diminish, so it seems oxymoronic that policy be drafted up by the very people whose interests are to increase the carbon footprint and profit margins associated with it rather than eliminate it. Ultimately the question is, do we as the consumer want change? Is the environment worth the cost to our hip pockets and perhaps lifestyle?  At the moment it appears that we like paying lip service to the cause but none of us wants the sacrifice or discomfort of change. Are the majority like me, wanting to make change but still carrying the wants and needs embedded into the psyche by corporate machinery. Who wants environmental salvation but at the price of fossilised sunlight.

Category : Rants | Blog

This is the end!

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I think Jim Morrison was about three decades too early when he sang the sombre words, “This is the end. My only friend the end….The end of..oink..laughter” We certainly are living in scary times and surely there are people out there that would be wondering if the world really is coming to an end. Well the world will hardly come to an end per Se,  unless of course there’s some catastrophic event, like a massive meteor hitting us from the outer reaches of the cosmic over world, or if our Sun decided to prematurely supernova on us. But something like…well let’s just say, a pandemic, could put my world to an end and it could put yours on permanent standby also. 😕

Who the hell knows if the reassurances of magical anti-viral agents are going to do a fat lot of good when you have some hybrid genome, cross between bird, pig and human flowing through your blood stream. It doesn’t sound good and if you do suvive a bout of pig-bird flu, what would it make you? Some walking, talking,  flying pig of a person? Ah well, at least we know pigs really do fly and it may well do us some good. If we survive the pig flu pandemic we’ll be sure to inherit the gene that says, happy as a pig in shit. Now who wouldn’t want to be as optimistic as that eh?

Category : Rants | Blog