Posts Tagged ‘freedom’
by adminadam in videos
Efforts to fight piracy and limit computer functionality converge on malware/spyware being pre-installed on every machine that ships. As an example, Intel has teamed up with video streaming services in the design of their new Sandy Bridge chips, which will supposedly allow for only DRM content to be streamed in HD. (Not that you have to utilize DRM-ladden content; you can find and play things in HD on your own still, but it’s the beginning of a larger trend — i.e. cars that can be remotely shut down, iPhones whose cameras turn off at the request of the authorities, etc.)
This trend is most disturbing in particular in regimes where the populace is not media-literate enough to get around these restrictions, unlike in wealthy, western countries where we can assume, as always, someone will find a way to hack into it (or out of it). [Maybe these people: ccc.de?]
Doctorow refers to all of our iThings and other increasingly restricted forms of hardware as Appliances, but what they are, he goes on to elucidate, are general purpose computers that ship with malware inside. With SOPA and all this copyright mess what we are seeing is just the first battle of the war on general purpose computing.
Key Ideas from This Talk:
- No man is an island; we’re all ‘born in funk’ and we all will ‘die in the funk’.
- Denial, dodging, and dismissal of death, maximum distraction and “deodorized” discourse.
- Learning to die, through/with Philosophy, as a means to real growth.
- A more just society requires more critical, courageous thinkers that can even give up their dogmas when necessary.
- Holding opposing ideas simultaneously in our head, and yet still continuing to function, e.g. the U.S. as both a Noble Experiment in Democracy and an Ignoble Experiment in Empire.
by adminadam in poetry
If only I could type it in a crisper way than this
to spell out why I try and play
a buffer-role and sit
guessing at the aspirations,
how to curb chance-machinations
of our absurd, undeterred techno-globalization.
This age for cheap is offering
to keep open the gate
the flood of infotainment
acting less like food than bait
only certain spaces in which we can feed and wait.
A storm gathers just off horizon
its soundless thunder rumbles
its dark clouds heavy glint of gold,
but what rocks it holds would care
to serenely come and tumble down
on heads that do not glance around?
From this we will need shelter or at least a wary mind…
So it is that I and accompanying allies strain and scrutinize,
future-wise puzzle-piecing new maps to help us navigate a world
brimming full of bullshit and apparently-free crap.
A legacy we hope to leave
(my part albeit incomplete)
to guide those unborn future flocks of man and
the info-shocked, sadly-vision-blocked souls living
who may yet know to use discretion sometimes
in keeping open for too long their minds for just a dime.
All of us, don’t we need sound notification on the nature of
our own bloating meta-predatory creation?
It seems something is waiting to snatch up idle ripe minds
to be its bio-platforms, do its ghostly calculations,
become its meme-arrays and unknowing-slaves…
The risk is if we end up biting every byte we see
(we think this data-lunch is free)
effectively lambs feeding from its trap we will be!
Digitally-versed, the buffers’ and shepherds’ work
is to clear a path wide enough for sheep to skirt temptation,
to keep them away from the ever-swelling impulse-inertia,
their desire for satiation
that leads them to trough in underheated isolated chambers
from which all but pre-made thought can escape un-rearranged.
Beware these rains inside will fall
black stones straight through the roof,
and the sheep who do not hear the call,
those too media-jacked-in and enthralled,
will be submerged and drown aloof.
“What a liberation to realize that the voice in my head is not who I am. Who am I then? — The one who sees that.”
– Eckhart Tolle
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In Consciousness, the starting, waking state is that of the ordinary, Rational Mind. This state is defined by Ordinary Consciousness and Sense Awareness. It rests on the ever-growing-to-do-list, worry-bound, don’t-forget-to-take-out-the-trash-and-sometimes-go-smell-flowers kind of breathing-smelling-hearing-tasting-and-feeling-things level of reality.
Immediately below this state in the hierarchy we find Dreams and a bit further down is where the Subconscious and the Subliminal Self churn and stir themselves. Hypnosis impinges on these level and may occasionally allow for the liberation of bottled-up agony and fermented solitude. Dreaming, however, along with socializing, reading, and, of course, exercise and physical activity, work out the subliminal kinks in the mind and squeeze out the toxins quite satisfactorily most times, but the higher (and infinitely more enjoyable) stages require more focused and serious work, and greater commitment, to have any claim on the transcendental territory therein contained…
When we can set foot on higher ground, we are climbing (initially at least) a ladder that rests on the substrate of Ordinary Mind. Here we can see Higher Consciousness manifest a small fraction of its true potential in terms of Inspiration and in feelings of Peace and/or Revelation. But, at this level the Rational Mind is still in control and only allows limited bandwidth (probably 1 Kb/s combined throughput) on the ladder’s rungs and rails – and even climbing (transitively & figuratively) one thinking-man up the ladder per day is a neat trick in this epoch of history. Just consider. How much of the minority-portion in which we can breathe of our time are we NOT spending on matters of the Spirit, on feeling for the universally-accessible-but-rarely-accessed essence of things anyways? To make it worse, people nowadays don’t seem to care about ‘that kinda shit’ and those that do are (or intentionally make themselves) invisible and hence cannot be considered exemplary counter-examples to the spiritual malnutrition of the age.
But I digress (and thus continue onto what should be the highest level of consciousness).
The highest level of consciousness is, as you expected, the domain of the Sassy Spirit, the arena for Mossy Meditation, and the profoundly quiet, clean and wooden, Court of Contemplation. Really though… Transcendence is the approaching of both self and absolute in a kind of trance of dancing blue flames in which the body’s boundaries begin to dissolve and are dismissed as the evenly-spaced energy and information packets of which they consist. Merely ideas. Alone and afloat.
Unfortunately, even at the fire-dancing stage certain degrees of freedom can and often are distinguished – and the abstract, artificial division of self and other is again guarded, protected, i.e. allowed to stand.
This castle-moat effect around the self happens habitually and automatically, especially when we live in a world of words and constantly add “evidence” to our pools of doubt that we keep filling up in order to convince ourselves of our separate nature from that of our distantly-kept loved ones and fellow humans. In such swamps of ego-negativity the distance, indeed, only grows when we try to “transcend” all on our own. And yet why do we both know this and also so-obviously-fundamentally at the same time NOT know this (considering the evidence readily available in our behavior)?
It is here that we should take a critical look at the rolling, snowballing, ever-expanding ego momentarily and these things will perhaps be made more clear than they have been up to and including this point – in this essay, I mean…
The inertia of the Ego, as we know, is strong and heavy. We constrict ourselves by our constant and mostly-unaware way of working and stretching it out into the career-, life-, family-, status-, and goal-oriented pursuits of our lives. Now don’t get me wrong. This is the game of life. It should be, it must be played. These things are not undesirable or un-pursuit-worthy, but often they end up blocking the long-dormant channels running through our stomachs (those that start from the origin, from the source, from the initial point of the big bang and run up vertically through space and time – to what? — To the 11-th dimensional tri-tonal non-dualistic non-material non-conceptual gods of orgy-pleasure and enlightenment that are waiting for their old playmates to come back home and build castles in the sand with them, that’s what!) and we are filling these holy channels up with status-oriented-classist-materialist, earth-destroying, mtv-youtube-infotainment-website-channel activity and all the other garbage of that ilk all the time. And take it from me, mon frere: Your channels do not need to be filled. (Dump that meme!) When they are empty they are at their absolute fullest.
So we see that the inertia of Ego is strong. The patterns of negativity, our inherited neuroses, and our bad habits are ESTABLISHED. With Pride. Since 1909. Deeply Rooted. Really. So? What to do? The answer is to find a way to break out of your cycle. Try to create something NEW and NOVEL. Creation is the highest-level cognitive (and I might argue Spiritual) task there is. Make some art then, or write in your journal, form a club, or plan a social event. Take your genes (an operating system), your psychology (out-of-date software), and your personality (80′s themed). They do have a bit of sway, sure. But — they are ultimately impermanent, non-dictatorial. You must then recognize and claim and reclaim your freedom to do things differently at every step of the way. You’ve got Genetics, Culture, Society, Psychology, and Mental Habits to reroute you, but however much you choose to abdicate your will to these things, you are still, at root, free to do otherwise. So show it to the world, and show it to yourself. You are free.
Remember: there’s no need to climb and creep up some rickety transcendence-ladder when already your own creative-flowing-liberated-and-also-liberating essence can just float in the direction you choose. Now go. Float.
“Once you come to know yourselves, you will become known.”
by adminadam in articles
We are all tied to each other by the bonds of duty, responsibility, kinship, and social pressure. At times these obligations are wearisome, the contracts interminable, our superiors insufferable. At times it feels like slavery. And surely thinking it so would not help in the slightest… But here, if we expand our thinking and take all forms and lengths of the chains between us to be forms of servitude, and act with the wisdom of Seneca in mind, we may find it to have a liberating effect on the mind, one that lessens the burdens we feel:
“We are all chained to fortune: the chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty. But what difference does it make? The same prison surrounds all of us, and even those who have bound others are bound themselves; unless perchance you think that a chain on the left side is lighter. Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others. All life is slavery…”
In essence, what he means here is that we all have our place in life, one in which we are basically stuck, but then, he says, even the very fortunate are chained to their heavy gold chains, however blessed they may seem. We all have our personal prisons which we must acknowledge; we all have things to trip us up, things we resent in life, so the overall perspective becomes very important in trying to decrease the burden and the feelings of resentment we feel. He continues…
“All life is slavery. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him. Nothing is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find comfort in it. Small tablets, because of the writer’s skill, have often served for many purposes, and a clever arrangement has often made a very narrow piece of land habitable. Apply reason to difficulties; harsh circumstances can be softened, narrow limits can be widened, and burdensome things can be made to press less severely on those who bear them cleverly.”
It is, of course, a brave claim that we are all equally burdened in life. I’m afraid Seneca may often be misread in this case, but the wisdom is not to be found in what seems an oversight or an ignorance of vast differences in opportunities, his negligence of the global wealth-gap, or other inequalities. The wisdom of these lines is that summed up in phrases like roll with the punches and go with the flow. There is a natural rhythm that life provides, that situations seem to circumscribe, and a life without bonds and obligations and struggles is unthinkable; we were all put on this earth to climb personal mountains, to fight invisible, personal demons — and sometimes big external ones, too. So do what you can, says Seneca, do what you can with the forms of slavery that plague you…
Having recognized our chains as a part of a great big interdependent web, I would like to present another psychologically stabilizing quote, a Chinese proverb about work and duty. This is one that speaks to a special sense of freedom that sadly goes unrecognized most of the time. It goes like this:
“If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave. If a man does more than is required of him, he is a free man.”
This is a simple, but profound line that makes me think about my work as a teacher: As a teacher, there is always more work to do, and I could leave just when my lessons finish, but I often feel better doing just a bit more at the end of the day to help prepare myself for tomorrow. I feel like this proverb supports that sentiment nicely. By doing just a bit more when you are indeed free not to is, in terms of time commitment, trivial, but, in terms of building intrinsic motivation, quite substantial and symbolic.
There is an attitude change that seems to set in if you apply this wisdom often enough. The best part of this is that the positive shift in thinking is generally quite disproportionate to the amount of effort that is required do that extra bit of work. Come in a minute or two early to school. Symbolically, you are demonstrating to yourself your own freedom to do it. Try it. Bring in an snack to share with colleagues at lunch time. Offer to make copies for your busy co-worker. Come a few minutes early to help set up for the meeting. You may find that small, symbolic acts of freedom like these can change your outlook and your feelings about your work.
But does this really apply to everyone?
Being that I work in educational institutions, I have to be fair and say that my work is rarely that tedious or insufferable; my most arduous tasks generally grading and paperwork, and it is principled work too — the majority of the time it is obvious what the purpose of it is. This is due to the idealism which is fused into the foundations of the work I and other teachers do all over the world: Ultimately, we strive to help young people develop their minds and their abilities and prepare to be independent adults.
So, 99% of the time the what and the why of my work are clear to me and I consider myself very lucky. Perhaps that’s why these quotes about responsibility and doing a little extra do not strike me as at all odd. After all, it’s not like I’m that waitress (Jennifer Aniston) in the restaurant in Office Space who gets reprimanded for not wearing more than the minimum 15 pieces of flair or anything… Such a person, and I don’t know, maybe you are that person, could reasonably be insulted by the “wisdom” conveyed by these quotes, thinking: “Why should I wear 16 pieces of flair at work? How could that extra bit help me at all? How could that possibly make me any happier with my work?” So, clearly, in some circumstances, the words of Seneca and our anonymous Chinese philosopher fall on deaf ears. This is where you do the extra bit, though, and try to think about where these quotes are applicable to your life. It doesn’t have to be work-at-work, after all. Just think about these examples in the social and personal realms:
In Social Settings:
I often find that those parties-I-don’t-really-want-to-go-to are worse when I show up late. It’s like I feel the obligation, but I resent it, so I come late and ironically I feel guilty for it. Somehow I’m better off coming early this time. Try it: Show up on time because you’re free to, pitch in in the kitchen after being treated to some home-cooking because you’re free to, tip the fast pizza delivery-guy a little better or buy a down-trodden friend a beer — all because you are free to. The ways in which you view these acts is largely what determines the emotional reward you receive from them. Again, you can see each of these extras as everyday social obligations, but you can also see them as something you are free to do — that’s where it gets liberating.
Personal Goal Setting:
Let’s consider the sense of freedom to be gained in the personal realm now. Say you want to get in shape and you’ve resolved to do 20 push-ups a day. At first you work up slowly to 20, but then after that you’re back in that drudgery zone. “Ugh”, you say, “I did it yesterday… Surely I can skip it today. It won’t make any difference, right?” — Now this is the perfect place to try on the proverb. Say to yourself “Okay, today I’ll do twenty and then maybe a couple more.” Surprisingly, you do 22 and feel great, much better that you would if you’d done either 0 or the required 20, and it is because you are taking the one true route to that hidden store of freedom within you; with 20 you’d have done the minimum; and, with 0 you’d have just made excuses and probably lost some resolve to maintain your goal at the same time… So we see personal goals like doing 20 push-ups a day can become opportunities to feel free as well, by doing just a bit more. It feels good, even if it is, strangely enough, just you freeing yourself from self-imposed slavery.
May you find freedom in the slack that your chains provide…
by adminadam in videos
Reject the temptations of success, throw back the status symbols, says Dr. West. It takes courage to think for oneself, but is necessary for one’s own freedom and happiness. Bravery is necessary for greatness, and this is what we should strive for.
He said it before, the current generation will have to retrain their minds to look past success, and to look to a higher place:
I remind young people everywhere I go, one of the worst things the older generation did was to tell them for twenty-five years “Be successful, be successful, be successful” as opposed to “Be great, be great, be great”. There’s a qualititative difference.
See another powerful video of Dr. West speaking at Brown University. And keep in mind your vision of personal greatness, make it a habit of mind to retain your focus on it. Make life about more than just commodities. As the Doctor said, sadly we have to learn to recognize the nihilism and destitution that our culture encourages so effectively. And that’s where the fight begins. That’s where we begin to hack our own destinies.
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