Thinking big in a small world

Rationalising the Universe was never set up as a facility to express opinion, unless in relation to the forefront of science and the perimeter of human knowledge. On the odd occasion opinion based comment seems relevant, for example during the European Referendum in June 2016 (to no avail) and again in my last opinion piece, Are we lost?Here we explored my personal viewpoint on the trajectory of the human race, which surprised me in becoming my most popular piece. Today I venture into opinion based writing once more, as I express old views in light new events. Inherent in the nature of this post I do not present absolute fact.

The title of this post is central pillar of this line of argument. Studying theoretical physics one is required to think big; both in the literal sense of the universe and singularities, along with the metaphorical sense of string theory or quantum entanglement. When we leave this impenetrable fortress of academia, we find ourselves assaulted with a host of much smaller thoughts to contend with. Some of these are perfectly natural and necessary, such as deciding what you have for dinner, when to wash your clothes or which movie to dull your aching brain with. These thoughts are small but we take no issue with them, they are essential thoughts which form part an valuable function in a much larger mission.

Lurking among the natural and necessary small thoughts lay a host of other constructions which promote small thinking offering no upside. These are far more dangerous to indulge in, since they promote a way of thinking that blocks big thinking. Big thinking went to the moon, climbed Everest, realized time was only relative and that our bodies are the byproduct of the stars. Small thinking gave us two world wars, terrorism, racism, sexism and Donald J Trump. I am of the opinion that if, as a species of animal, we do not strive to change our way of thinking we have no future on the time scales the universe is interested in; a view shared my many big names (recommendation: Our Final Century, Martin Rees).

This idea does not sit well with me, as I feel I have been endowed with a dual survival instinct; one for myself and one for my species.

On the division of land

I am from the United Kingdom; this is where I was born, this is the country that has issued my passport. I feel fortunate to live in a land which affords me the freedom to study as I wish, to have an education and to live without fear of starvation or poor health. If you were to ask me am I proud to live in the United Kingdom my answer would be no, which is the answer I would like every citizen of every country to share. There is a distinct difference between feeling fortunate and feeling proud. Feeling fortunate is for things which have a positive impact, whereas feeling proud is for things that both have a positive impact and require personal effort. I can assure you I put in no personal effort to be born in the United Kingdom and would feel equally fortunate to live in any of the free countries in the world.

The Earth on which we reside is a rocky planet, orbiting a medium sized star in a very unimpressive galaxy cluster. The mind reels with awe when you consider how insignificant our galaxy is; even if you believe this is the only universe that exists. A pinprick. Aside from the obvious Physical issues; even travelling close to the speed of light I wouldn’t have a chance of seeing the whole universe – in fact I wouldn’t even come close. In a single second light can circle the Earth 7.5 times, yet it take a full 8 minutes 20 seconds to travel from the closest star – which is very close to us indeed on galactic scales. Returning back to little Earth, my friends do you not feel we have been short changed? There is a whole universe out there and we have been imprisoned on a small rock. When you have a small piece of anything the most illogical thing you can do is to make it smaller.

Countries do provide a necessary function. There are administrative functions that are too big to manage on a global scale – for example registering people to travel has a necessary security function and it makes sense to subdivide responsibility. Not everywhere in the world wants the same public holidays, or indeed the same experiences with regard to taxation or schools. Furthermore there are logistical barriers between certain landmasses – oceans and other separations that just make the parts of the Earth naturally discrete and difficult to manage together. The peaceful functioning of this planet does rely on certain tasks being split down to country level – I have no fear of this mindset providing this is the end of it; administrative functions to enable us to live our lives the way we want to.

The scenes in the below video make me desperately uncomfortable. There is no more reason to be proud of living in the USA as there is in any other free country. We need to move forward from being able to win over popular opinion by creating a nationalistic atmosphere.  To see groups of fully grown adults, including the President-elect of the USA blindly chanting the name of a country over and over again in a patriotic fever is not the direction that will promote big thinking. Patriotism is pride for ones country; which as outlined I don’t believe in – we need to keep the tiny world as large as we possibly can. Notice that the greatest minds in history saw this planet from a global perspective while some of the most destructive humans who ever lived saw an inward projection of countries, and superiority over other countries. The division of land has become one of man’s most misinterpreted designs.

 

On the equality of people

On the news in the UK we continually hear about targets for ethnic minorities, gender balance and the LGBT community in respect of jobs or university places. It makes me sad every time I hear about these targets, even when the news is that we have hit them. This is of course not because I don’t want them hit, rather it reminds me I live in an era where we still need them. We still require statistics to remind us that someone isn’t more or less qualified as a result of their reproductive organs, their place of birth or their race.

Science is one of the most collaborative disciplines simply because it has to be; there is a good chance that as a species we will not unlock the secrets of this planet before it is too late and the information is lost. A terrifying prospect we have to swallow and move forward with in the best way we can, which is to ensure no brain is excluded from working on the important problems posed to us by the universe. The very idea in science that you would judge or exclude someone based on anything but intellect is ludicrous (note: I am aware historically this has not always been so). In the future the human race will find a way to remove a brain and place it in a more durable shell – this seems inevitable if we are to better ourselves. When this happens, the humans of the future will look back at us and they will laugh. They will laugh about the amount of time we spent discussing issues which relate to nothing but the appearance of our flimsy biological housing.

The world is a very different place right now, with a long way to go until we can say that equality is no longer an issue. The choice that was made in the world which cannot be ignored; for the eagled eyed yes world this issue effects us all. Watch the below video – as a boyfriend, as a brother and as a human being the content of this fills me with fear. The fear is bipartite. Firstly, there exists humans with families, friends and successful lives who hold these opinions. Secondly, society is not ready to swiftly exclude those who express such a rhetoric.

I have heard every argument; from Secretary Clinton wasn’t good enough, it is because of the turn-out or my favourite; people just want a change. The reason I chose to display the comments made by the President-elect in relation to women over ethnic minorities, disabled people or the LGBT community is that women overall form the largest group in America personally alienated by the election campaign. I would hope that this would be enough to turn off every single man, and astounded if it was not enough to turn off every single woman, or in other words around 50% of the electorate. The content of the video above is a perfect display of thinking small; of allowing superfluous hormones to wash through the brain and defy reasoning and logic. To allow small minded beliefs of superiority get in the way of the bigger picture – a species of animal who are quite literally fighting for their survival with the brain as a weapon.

The entire world got grabbed by the pussy, with rewards served up for the offender. We must to do better as a species – it does not matter if the human ticks every other box 10 times over, if the person is small minded when it comes to our own species they must be called out. Where exceptions to this rule are made, progress will be hampered. We do not owe Donald Trump an open mind; this was offered at the start of the presidential race, we are in a position to cast judgement.

On the world as it stands

As we look across the world and the picture we see is frightening. Speaking of where I sit, in the United Kingdom we have a government weakening the country leaving our most prosperous and natural union on miss-information and fear of immigration. The small mindset of personal gain, patriotism and fear of our own species has dominated the outlook for the future. Further afield and the picture does not get better. We have the resurgence of far right politics through many lands, includng France, Belarus and Austria. The middle east is at breaking point, with religious extremism, a mismanaged war and innocent humans trapped in the melee. Terrorists beheading innocent people, in regions where governments behead criminals. Major powers struggling to let go of defunct regeimes, a tyrant ruling in North Korea, corrupt governments in various poor nations embezzling the funds from starving citizens, homeless people in rich nations, climate change spiralling out of control and a stockpile of nuclear weapons which is only rising.

How do we make any kind of positive impression?

When I first set up Rationalising the Universe I spent quite a long time ensuring that my profile on this site was shielded from my social media presence, being the tenuous connections whom I had accumulated over time. I didn’t really give this much thought until one of my friends stumbled across the site by chance and I was undeniably embarrassed. This is a crinkle in my own logical fabric; I sit here trying to promote and popularise science and intelligent thought and then shield it from those who actually know me. The message is wrong. You will of course be pleased to know I removed the crinkle, sharing this site freely forever more but the reason it was there in the first place? Fear of speaking out on the issues that matter to me. I am not sure if that’s a fear of disagreement or just fear of leaving my deepest beliefs generally exposed for analysis – but it existed, despite all the thinking I have done on this subject.

This probably happens to most of us; a conglomeration of 7bn people sharing a fear of speaking about the things in which they believe. It is all very easy to promote big thinking and speaking up for what you believe in online, but how many of us actually do it in our day to day lives?  What if the victory of Donald Trump was not the victory of the silent majority of supporters as suggested, but the loss of the silent opposers. I fundamentally believe the majority of the world thinks in the way I believe to be right. More people voted against Trump than for. More millennials voted against Brexit than for, and these people are after all the future. If anything comes out of the ashes of 2016, let’s hope it is the galvanisation of honest moderate beliefs and the engagement of people. If the lesson is learnt that disengagement brings unfavourable results there may just be hope for us yet; a better era where it is encouraged and respected to think big and to think loudly. This is how I see it – as a scientist, as a physicist and as a human.

 

 

 

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53 responses to “Thinking big in a small world

  1. It is a common opinion to see the scientist as an indifferent person, living in a different world, too small ot too big! Now I do believe, and this my very personal opinion, that the world needs more rational thinking, more philosophers and more scientists, since only passions (from greek “pathos”, the root of the word “pathology”, that disgusted Plato when pathos was linked to politics, creating a manipulative politics), subjectivity and fear are ruling the world. So we ended up being in pathological world and a pathetic one! Thank you again for this post

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for reading and you very interesting thoughts. I agree with you entirely of course! I think and hope that as the “cutting edge” of science becomes more and more interesting, the number of people engaging with it only increases.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I understand and share your distress over the bleak prospects now facing world civilization. I was born in New York and spent a large portion of my life there and have lived long enough to remember well the better times and the worse times. I live now away from the USA and am aware of its long history of many hopes and terrible disappointments. My own feeling was that Trump was not someone I preferred to see leading the country because of the obvious disparities of his personally expressed opinions with my own preferences but there is a signal difference between him and Mrs. Clinton that I found important. Essentially I found Trump uncouth and strangely prejudiced against many innocent people and wildly unaware of the frightful basic changes now moving towards making many areas of the planet uninhabitable. But, if nothing else, he seems to be pragmatic and possibly, if he discovers he has made an error he might be able to act to correct it. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton seems very firmly fixed and embedded in the current deep persuasion that violent military action in favor of the destructive financial sector of the country is the decisive behavior to carry forward US policies. The almost total and rather useless destruction in the Middle East and her enthusiasm she proclaimed for a violent confrontation with Russia and China towards the use of nuclear weapons seemed to me far more dangerous in the short run than what seemed to me how Trump might behave. This is a very personal judgment and I do not expect many to be convinced it is correct. It is somewhat in the nature of the terrible poisons and radiations patients feel compelled to undergo when a critical diagnosis of fatal cancer is involved. The current domestic and foreign policies obviously require something very strenuous to change directions and perhaps Trump can do that. No doubt large damages of all kinds will result but the Chinese comment that major political changes are not a tea party (no pun intended) seems to hold.

    Insofar as the human future in the universe is concerned, I see myself as an insignificant particle of the life force in close relationship to seagulls, elephants, rats, turtles, octopuses, cockroaches, planarians, dandelions, moths, bats, dolphins, etc, on this particular planetary hatchery and have little doubts there are other interesting life hatcheries throughout this universe and perhaps many other universes and my insignificant blink of time here is fascinating but surely not noteworthy.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes I agree with you – I think I didn’t perhaps have chance to express that I of course was not enthused by the chance of a Clinton presidency – I see her flaws very much so but I cannot ever share the view that a Trump presidency would be less dangerous. I do think of course as do many that it is a shame that Bernie Saunders didn’t get the chance – I think he would of beaten Trump because just like him he was offering to take on the establishment. He wasn’t a career politician like Clinton so would I feel in the current climate be advantageous. I do hope that everything you have said is correct – it’s one of those situations I really don’t mind the idea of being wrong! Although I suppose however good or bad there is no way of saying if the other one would of been better or worse. Luckily there will be another election in four years – I just hope that the timeframe limits the damage. The damage that has been done by sending out a bad message to the world is already done

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A masterpiece of an article! Your statements on the distinction between feeling fortunate and feeling proud to be born somewhere were rather salient to say the least. As someone who is currently living in the United States, I feel very fortunate to have been born in a region with a high standard of living, but it has been a great sorrow and disappointment to experience the ascent of a demagogue as our “leader”. Fortunately, it feels great to know that I am apart of a global community of fellow, rational thinking scientists who want to go beyond our own borders and fight against bigotry and small-mindedness.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you very much! I am glad that you enjoyed it and that the content resinated well with you. A great sadness which we have shared – but I quite agree with you. The one thing that has made me feel very encouraged by all of this is the sheer number of people sharing the same point of view – which I happen to agree with. I hope that this can continue and grow into a better future for all of us

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Joseph it’s not thinking big we now urgently need but thinking relevently. String theory will not build flood defenses or produce new antibiotics or help to redistribute wealth to more of the world’s poor. Mr Trump knows more about human nature than most university professors and he beautifully harnessed the tribal instinct. Unfortunately we have persuaded people they must always seek more , ambition we reward breathless of the consequences. Remember we are apes in suits and ties but we carry more than spears and rocks. Why do you hold in awe something not anything like as complex as the human mind? and I might add something not created but that evolved. Steven Pinker believes We are living in the most peaceful period of human history and he gives his analyses in ‘ The Better Angels of Our Nature ‘ . The sad thing is he goes on to say it is not because human nature has changed but simply because war does not pay. Interestingly it would seem we are all related to Attila the Hun genetics having been traced back to him.
    Other men and women similar to Mr Trump are stirring in Europe and Mr Farrage is doing his best to ensure himself a high place in the new order.
    There was a young lady called White
    Who could travel much faster than light.
    She set off one day in a relative way,
    And returned on the previous night.

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    • I would argue that big thinking is relevant – so they are as such one and the same! String theory will not build flood defences of course; diggers build flood defences but you need to appriciate that we have the resources to fix all of these problems already. It’s not an issue of resources or know-how, it’s the general will of the people. You will notice a common theme amount theoretical physicists – big thinkers – is a general desire to make the world more equitable. Just look at, for example, Einstein’s quotes on society. There are many examples. I am not saying that theoretical physicists are the only people with these beliefs by any stretch – just speaking of what I know. If we can get more people thinking like this, more of what you speak of will happen.

      I agree r.e. Trumps knowledge of human nature. That is certainly true and a key factor in the victory. But this must not be the new order. This may well be the most peaceful patch in world history (depending on how you define it) – but that does not mean it is time for complacency. Ironically, peace is fought for through politics. Politics need not be a dirty word, it has just become that way recently. I believe that we must oppose men like Trump and Farage. They cannot make the world a better place, and the risks are very high.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have not read Pinker but I have read enough about him to judge his optimism as invalid. Of course war does not pay for humanity as a whole but the Eisenhower famous warning about the MIC (military-Industrial-Complex) has found war extremely profitable and the political establishment has, like those totalitarian governments of previous days found paranoid fear of the populace an extremely populace a most useful leash to direct government policy. The USA and the Israelis and other governments keep their populace in fear to make their war industries furiously profitable. In these days of nuclear weapons that is a Sword of Damocles that keeps the doom clock a few minutes to midnight for decades and the USA is encouraging a new race to radioactive suicide continuously. Clinton was a prime mover in that direction and I found her most frightful. As idiotically hateful as Trump may be, he is sharp enough to use the vicious fools to gain the presidency. He didn’t create them but he used them as political crowbar to gain the White House and perhaps he is manipulative enough to keep them in his back pocket while he learns to work with the Russians and the Chinese to make the world slightly more sane again. I see the human race as a species of enormous potential like a baby with a loaded pistol. Hopefully it will learn to play with other toys.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with your point around cooperation with China and Russia. It isn’t good for the world to have any countries marginalized – both of these are big populous countries which are coming out of unfavorable political regimes. It is the right time to pull together – this of course needs to be done with caution and not with blind agreement to everything said or done. We cannot compromise core principles just for the sake of deepening a relationship – this is why I wonder if Trump has the moral character to improve relations in the right way. I do not think he does.

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      • Mr Pinker did an extensive analysis of lives lost but like all famous authors he has taken much criticism. I agree it is a smart move to profit by
        paranoid fear which does not say a lot for human nature. The enormous potential you speak of has not stopped us proceeding to the edge of extinction. That enormous potential is focussed on financial gain as you correctly pointed out. Now the rat has a far better plan for the future without even thinking , and I suspect it may well outlive our proud shakey edifice.

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      • As crude and impolite as Trump presents himself he seems to have chosen the correct political tools to gain the presidency over the massive objection of not only both major political parties but also what is considered the tactical manners of anyone seeking high office to conform to proper public proprieties. He is that monster in the cellar who has climbed the back stairs to growl for red meat and he scares the hell out of the courtly public face of the standard gentlemen in all the sectors of public life and evokes glee from a public that has been and continues being raped by those who presumed they could torture and punish freely the people who have lost decent incomes and houses and most of their savings and are hog tied in debt out of student loans for an education that turns out to be worthless and hellishly expensive. What has the government and society offered them but a CIA and military that robs the budget blind and fails to do any protecting out of the regular maniacs who murder everybody including children at school every other week. The police are freely pot shooting anybody, innocent or otherwise. who doesn’t tremble in fear when spoken to and the fabulously costly security systems do obscene things with no guarantee of protecting anybody. Trump seems no worse a crook than the highly respected corporations and finance firms who sneak out of taxes and produce vastly overpriced medicines and regularly have to recall dangerous food products. I fully doubt Trump’s morality but in the games government and the legal system is playing I see very little if any morality that is better than the rough language Trump displays openly. He obviously glories in playing the bully but that seems par for the course. Like it or not Trump has the reins and the ride probably will be very rough but there exists a faint possibly the world will not be destroyed. At the moment that’s the best we can hope for.

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  5. Its a very interesting article and I have no quarrel at all with thinking big as opposed to small nor nor with the generalised proposition that politics and politicians are at least morally corrupt. But there is something that troubles me. Trump and Brexit did not occur because a meteorite hit earth, they occurred because millions of people went out and of their own free will chose that path. Those people are not bad people, they are not a bunch of misogynistic xenophile racist idiots, they are, by and large simple ordinary people. But reading your article where you refer frequently to what “we” should do I am not sure that you include them in the word “we”. The world increasingly is divided between those who seem to know what is good for us and have a voice that is heard, and those who know what is good for us and dont, and the reason for that is that the two dont agree. Thinking big is great, fine, noble, outward looking and progressive, but thinking big requires a unity of purpose, it cannot exist only in the minds of one set of people and not others. There are plenty of people who are British and feel themselves to be fortunate but are also proud to be British. The difficulty is that a nation is a community as well as a nation, and the idea that you can throw that away is not realistic. They adhere to that community the same way that Americans do I am sure. Many have neither the desire not the opportunity to live elsewhere but they are not worse people for that. One thing I have learned for sure in my life is that their is no absolute truth in politics or society not life itself, ( I dont include science!) and that when it comes to deciding the world that we live in the President the Prime Minster the Corporatist, the Billionaire and the person who is an illiterate street sweeper have an identical and equal power and authority and that is exactly the way it should be. If people reject the “Big Idea” as they have, then we should be talking to those who rejected it and understanding them, and wondering whether the “Big Idea” is really such a good idea, not crying over it.

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    • The first point I want to pick up on is the notion of millions of people acting out of their own free will. Whilst nobody was forced to do something either way, miss-information is a form of intellectual coercion. It was fascinating that in the Brexit example, millions of people voted because they “didn’t wish to obey UK laws” – yet when asked the overwhelming majority couldn’t actually name a law which they wanted repealed. I like your idea of the President and the illiterate street sweeper having identical and equal power – but you must admit that isn’t a serious proposition. Take for example fiscal policy; would you want to give someone with no understanding of Economics equal power with an expert? Of course not that would be a nonsense. Every person has equal power in terms of ability to stand and ability to vote; but you can’t seriously suggest a world where everyone has equal power and authority on every single issue… it sounds like intellectual communism!

      I can accept election results not going my way, but there are two things that have bothered me off the back of this:
      1. The idea that if an election result does go your way you have to just accept it. I agree you should not seek to overturn it; but good spirited opposition does not stop after and election. We continue to fight for what we believe to be right.
      2. The idea that it is morally OK to vote for someone who is clearly xenophobic and sexist. I don’t believe that everyone who voted for Trump is sexist and xenophobic by any stretch; but I do believe voting for a man who is is a silent form of acceptance. That is what I think needs to change.

      I suppose by we I mean the people that share my point of view. For the Brexit case that’s 48% that voted plus many underage people who could not. For trump that’s the well over 50% that voted for Hilary and other candidates – I think America will always be left fractured if someone with views as abrasive as Trump is supported by under 50% of the electorate. That’s hard to swallow.

      Thank you for reading and your comments – really got me thinking!

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      • There are a few things that bother me. There are all sorts of experts and those that deal in international politics like Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger probably qualify as experts but not to my taste insofar as morality is concerned. They have accomplished frightful things. Economic experts also suffer greatly in foreseeing the results of their vision. The victory of Trump seemed an idiotic fantasy at the beginning of the election contest even to the best of experts. So the business of being an expert seems on very shaky grounds. Sorting out the experts from the idiots requires an expertise that seems rather rare.

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      • I like the comment about sorting out experts from idiots needs expertise! I totally agree. Far too often in these campaigns I have seen genuine experts dismissed and people with limited knowledge listed to because people say they don’t want to hear the “establishment”. Then on the flip side you have people who claim to be experts and are listed to who do not know of what they speak. I think the gap between pre-election promises and post-election deliverance will be at an all time high in the Trump presidency. I just hope this does not allow a more extreme candidate to pick up the baton.

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      • The present world is at a confluence of frightful choices wherein previous stabilities are disintegrating at a catastrophic rate. Human influences on the steady state of the ecology are destroying many bases of nature which are fundamental to life processes and radical changes in these relationships as they are now progressing are vitally necessary for survival. The primitive competition of national policies is no longer viable in the long term and well may destroy us all in a matter of decades. Those now in power seem, at best, only vaguely aware of how the misuse of the destructive forces now at their command can result in fatal commitments for everybody and nowhere is there a clean clear logic to guide sensible leadership. Trump has presented a face of the traditional bull in the china shop and this is horrifying but the presumed rational and secure leadership elsewhere seems not to exist either. The situation cries for radical turnaround but a random radicalness is also terrifying. I have no answers. Perhaps this is the way of the universal forces and the reason why there are no responses to our exploration for other life in the universe.

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  6. When the Frankenstein Monster has been chosen CEO of the organization to care for the entire world it is no surprise to find Dracula and perhaps The Thing from outer space on the supporting board. If nothing else, the morning board meetings with coffee and doughnuts will be more entertaining than the previous ones in control whose personalities were supplanted by the body snatchers. The Monster was, after all, an assemblage of unknown samples and its totality may have surprises no worse than the rather blood splotched gifts that were donated by previous CEOs. The universe was created out of apparent nothingness and perhaps it is better not to know what its internal organs might have been.

    FRANK IN CONTEMPLATION

    They call me Frank these days
    And the name implies me many ways.
    My character is blunt, somewhat unswerving.
    My features rather crude, I am a creature
    Of many parts, they say, unnerving
    In random chaotic fashion. But, anyways,
    I function. Admittedly with little passion.
    Those hormone fires sparking desires,
    That smolders into what inspires humanity
    To love, to hate, to insanity, to inanity,
    Do not reside in my inside.
    My thoughts have space,
    Do not jumble or collide.

    I am a spare parts man. My maker
    Doctor Frankenstein, gathered fingertips,
    A fine array of noses, lips,
    A box of ears and bellybuttons, fifteen,
    Pink, well formed and quite clean.
    My bones had lain with frozen stones
    For decades, disinterred but well matched
    And sturdy. Three from an acrobat, one,
    A delight, once lived inside a knight. Two patched
    Out of pieces from a horse, a cat, and just for fun,
    Two from a calf
    And one from a giraffe.

    Am I human? Mostly, I would say.
    But can any normal human say more?
    Speaking Frankly it seems not.
    Any peek into the random mind
    Would find, perhaps a common spot
    Where each could join, relate.
    Happily to twist and knot.
    But minds are vast topologies
    Teeming with mythologies.
    Here and there a mountain peak
    May glisten in the light
    Of clean perception,
    A point to guide the wild ride
    We all endure for reception
    Of markers inside
    To know what’s wrong,
    Or what might be right.
    But deep down low, below
    Where fantasy is spun,
    Where hot blood must run
    With energies that spark and glow,
    Where frigid caverns harbor fears,
    Stalactites bleeding tears,
    Strange pallid creatures spawn and grow,
    Blind, with trembling antennae feeling
    To supplement their senses, reeling.
    Here is where our mind appears,
    Here is where the join begins,
    Where necessities and desires
    Ignite to free their eager djinns.

    Being thus, both minus, plus
    In fragments of humanity
    I teeter in my loyalties.
    Inflections there roil and muss.
    Internally no royalties
    Dictate my state of insanity.
    My mind, from the good doctor’s hand
    Was pieced in ways, sometimes grand,
    Sometimes out of opportunity
    From a mélange community.

    Centrally there was the plan
    To integrate disparate parts
    With surgic skills and arcane arts
    To merely duplicate a man.
    But my baron had a mind
    Of extraordinary kind.
    His thoughts were rather wild and free
    That wandered into rare country
    And harnessed serendipity.

    He viewed the brain as working space,
    A foundation kind of place, a base
    Whereupon to erect, construct, and intervene.
    Intimations, cross connections, strange collections
    From exotic sources. Monkeys, mice, even horses,
    No sense to be conservative, release creative forces
    And sweep the whole horizon on the biologic scene.

    With appreciation and surmise
    He snatched the brains for eagle eyes
    And to set the world agog
    Applied the slimy senses from a frog.
    Out of a squid he stole great nerves
    Laid out in lines, tangles, curves
    To olfactions from a dog.
    Thus it went, adventure bent,
    And no particular intent
    But merely elected eclectic enterprise
    To appropriate variety to human guise.

    So thus am I constituted
    In ways strange and convoluted
    Some parts blatant, some more muted
    To contain within my brain
    Much surmised and quite a bit
    Simply grabbed and uncomputed.

    But now the doubts, most elegant,
    Are running out in this rant.
    Am I animal or plant?
    I really cannot say.
    A few genes from mushrooms
    Were inserted
    (Some upright, some inverted)
    Fitting in quite alright
    So I’m mildly saprophyte.

    The conclusion, in confusion, comes to admit
    I’m a bit of this and that most adroitly fit.
    My claim to humanity, although sincere,
    Based on just my form is not too clear.
    I walk like any bird or man
    Converse like any parrot.
    My fingers are slightly thick
    Resembling a carrot.
    I cannot classify my thoughts
    As fish or fowl or oyster.
    Some ideas float to me
    Not fitting for a cloister.
    My mosaic being borrowed with great plunder,
    Is strange undoubtedly, and something of a wonder,
    It partakes of living things, a smorgasbord of life.
    Nothing clear nor direct, not any absolute,
    Not more human than an ant, or, perhaps a newt.
    I am a universal, a poem said to living,
    Proteins intermingled and delightfully forgiving.

    It’s not a bad thing now, amidst our human fighting
    To be a being out of many, accepting, not benighting.
    All living things, derive their wings,
    Their eyes, their ears, their hearts,
    All their bones and working things
    From each other’s working parts.
    For life is made to see, to hear, to dance in sunlit joy.
    It matters not what parts you’ve got
    Or what you might employ.
    We live, we love, we reproduce,
    We are of Earth and air,
    We’re born to laugh and love and sing
    And strike away despair.
    I am a being of all of us that walk or swim or fly,
    Exist in space, seize this time that flows so quickly by.
    I am you and you are me, it’s all so very clear.
    Our time is always merely now, our place is always here.
    So join with me in ecstasy to surely be aware.
    This world is made to be played, intensively to care.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Quite a while ago there was a book published titled “Murphy’s Law” which was a compendium of human reaction to the resistance of any attempt to control nature by natural forces aligned against honest effort. It noted that machines and plans to accomplish any sincere purpose often did not work no matter how one tried and, strangely the only thing that finally got the damned construction to function properly was to kick it. It was a physical analog to swearing and it often worked. I mention this as a relation to the election of Trump who presented himself as a kind of social swat at the obdurate complex of crooked government, mindless greedy corporations, vicious police, and frightfully destructive military. Nothing seems to work to get it producing good well paying jobs, a health system giving the benefits of modern medicine to the whole country, providing an efficient and easily affordable education to the highest levels, maintenance of the vital infrastructure of the nation and proper prosecution of the corrupt officials and businessmen who were destroying much of the nation. Trump is that desperate kick to get the whole mess to function again.

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    • I do entirely and I know exactly what you mean in relation to the way he was able to be the whip up that protest vote – it is just very sad that I think people have been conned. The gap between what Trump promises and what Trump is capable of delivering is vast. It is sort of ironic how many people voted against the political establishment – but the establishment Trump belongs to hasn’t exactly been a champion of the ordinary man in America; diverting taxes, managing businesses irresponsibly. But like you say – I don’t think people were necessarily choosing what was good for them, rather just trying to make a desperate protest.

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      • Considering Trump’s qualifications and expressed understandings over government and social relations I expect him to fail miserably in his early attempts to get anything sensible done. I retain the faint and fantastic hope he may learn from his failures and attempt something slightly more sensible than the monsters who sat in the White House before him. I am probably telling myself fairy tales but this is the bottom of the barrel and perhaps the only possible direction to go is up.

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  8. Been there, done that and got the tee-shirt Joe – but threw it away and upgraded to a ‘spacesuit’! Why not join me for a trip in orbit without the ‘shuttle’ or in the ISS?

    If I may, I’d therefore encourage you to think much bigger – even outside the ‘Einstein Block Universe’ and try the perspective from another dimension beyond our 4-D world of time & space – the Kingdom of Heaven. Your single lens alone won’t suffice, nor will the goggles of a virtual stereo device and not even a full em-spectrum antenna!

    Your aspirations and objections echo my days of post-WWII cold-war, H-bombs and MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), anti-Vietnam war protests and hippy drop-outs. That, plus contempt for political and religious leaders, made me begrudge the mess the oldies had allowed and fallen into. Not to mention the 70’s Common Market fiasco where our fishing industry was shredded and left for pulp – many men redundant or surviving on scant earnings all for the sake of foreign fishermen!

    Now, nearly 1,600 EU regulations apply to our lives before going outdoors in the morning!! A church leader in Kiev who lived through the days of Soviet Russia reckons, “The EU is 100 times worse than communism!”

    Searching for real truth took me very deep into New Age ideals and practices so basic to globalist doctrine. A couple of decades later they led into foreseeing my post-mortem existence – horrifying! An awesome encounter in which I was saved by Jesus Christ himself and turned around began a truly exciting, never-ending adventure in God.

    As he’s outside but operates within our space-time continuum it’s possible to know and appreciate God’s perspective, immense love and grace for humanity and all in accordance with HIS plans – not ours. It gets most disconcerting when our noble concepts and ambitions are as nought to him, but he does keep us posted on his intentions. I’m amazed he’s been telling those who hear can him that he wants us out of the EU (20 instances to my knowledge since 2001) – it’s probably similar for the new guy over ‘the pond’, whom we’d prefer not to be like he’s been thus far – yet he may be God’s man for the moment: AND he can change him anyway. So who are we to judge….??

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    • With all due respect, the god concept with very human concepts of morality and teleology is so far out of sorts from my own view of the machineries of reality that it simply is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle from a different picture than my own. I readily concede that there is no reason to deny it since its possibilities lie well beyond any way to discard it totally but there is something within myself that has manufactured a self consistent reality (which undeniably contains massive doubts and tremendous ignorances) out of current logics that do not demand the supernatural. Admittedly this is open to change but so far I move in other directions.

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      • Fascinating reference jiisand to ‘piece of jigsaw’ – I wanted to name my blog Invisible Jigsaw but didn’t have suitable graphics. Even so, have observed and written about many pieces falling into place that present patterns of insights and connections that could only come from a higher perspective – and yet coming by ‘coincidence’, or ‘God-incidence’!

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      • One of the fundamental difficulties I have had with the God concept is its poverty of imagination. There is no doubt that not only is human physiological construction strikingly similar to other simians but the DNA is undeniably from the same source. A creature who is acclaimed to have produced the universe seems to me rather odd to be designed to climb trees. But this aside, the phenomena we live with every day such as gravity and electricity are abstractions of fundamental interactions still quite mysterious to us although we are friendly enough with them to accommodate their qualities. A constructor of universes must be so totally alien to our senses that there is no way it can be dealt with in human terms. No need to go into the vast collection of humorous peculiarities attributed to it in religious literature. It would be equivalent to questioning that green mold on Roquefort cheese on the recent Trump election as to its moral principles on the affair. I am not attempting to be offensive, merely indicating my own discomfort in the matter.

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    • I have to disagree with your analysis of the EU! The number of regulations is not necessarily an issue – if you were to consider the EU as a country, then the amount of regulations it has are comparable to any other landmass of that size – and in fact there is a great efficiency with being able to set regulation both at an EU and at a single country level. Not to mention the huge non-economic benefit we have realized over the last few decades in sciences and the free movement of people, which is now sadly in doubt. The big issue I would have is firstly believing there is a God, which as you know I unfortunately do not but secondly believing that at a time of crisis in the middle east, God would choose to intervene in man’s own political union – seems a slightly place to intervene!

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      • Regret we’ll have to agree to disagree, but having spent my latter years in gov’t service in the dept administering EU’s CAP, much to the chagrin of my closest friend – a farmer, we’ve seen the frustration of regulations simply for the sake of making them. Thus the burden falls not only upon officials and businesses but also upon householders and every consumer. Only this weekend I read about new EU standard of rail electrification as a reason for failure of Office of Rail Reguln approval of GWR’s extensive project. In the 60s British Rail (after extensive testing) found electrical discharge between rail and other objects was unlikely at 2” so set standard at 4 times that distance – but new EU regs demand almost double it at 370mm! Therefore, it’s no surprise costs escalated!! Also, former Chancellor o’ Exchequer Lord Lawson’s long experience adds clout to claiming, “the vast and ever-growing corpus of EU regulation causes economic damage throughout the EU”.

        Joe, months ago you recommended my visiting Mekhi’s blog. So presumably you’d read and understood her writings and got to know her personally and then formed a blogging partnership. She augments your original purpose with valuable input. It’s the just same when we come into a relationship with the living God and I’ve found from experience that he brings contributions to my writing too. (Eg. I never intended or expected to have done so many posts on the EU, but it all came together so easily.) Hence my encouraging you to want to live much more fully..

        SO when we get to know his 66 books we can gain insights into his nature, how he works and his plans and purposes for us – even in science. In fact, he actually encourages us not to be conformed to worldly ideas but to renew our minds so they get transformed and we can check out and even test his will. As that’s not happened for you yet, your closing remarks seem ‘logical’ – but there’s a far, far bigger picture to the ‘jigsaw puzzle’!

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      • I think the difference is I believed Mekhi augments my original purpose so it makes a natural partnership. Whilst I can honestly say I want to believe in a God – it would make life seem less harsh, I don’t – so it is very difficult for me to trick myself into believing something – if I could already would have. Side note however: 66 books!?

        On the EU point I don’t for any second think the EU was perfect – on the contrary however for me the balance of things that are good with the EU far outweighed the things that were bad. The most pressing point for me is it was a move in a direction of thinking about the human race as an integrated group of people rather than judging people. I take the point on agriculture and on the rail networks – but the cold hard fact is in the wake of the vote hate crime has spiked and people are looking inwards not outwards. For the progression of the human race moving towards a global more compassionate mindset will always triumph over concerns over railworks, fishing or agriculture. That isn’t to say I don’t think we should try to improve these things – but from within.

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      • Thanks and agree entirely with your ideals on humanity. They mirror a goal of the Kingdom of God (which churches have struggled to express fully – churchianity and Christianity can be different).

        Also agree going against natural disposition is unproductive – I too much prefer facts and demonstrable proof rather than pious sentiment and thoughts. Yet it’s important not to shoot ourselves in the foot, or even chop a leg off, in refusing to realise we’re spirit beings encased in flesh.

        Funnily enough yesterday morning I was listening to a lady bishop’s excellent message on part of the Book of Revelation. She added an unscripted comment about our reactions needing to take a higher perspective from above, similar to my idea of your donning a spacesuit to join me in seeing events from a bigger dimension.

        Btw, the Bible’s comprised of 66 ‘books’ or separate sets of scrolls/letters inspired by God yet making a interlocking self-contained whole – like a holy rubik’s cube!! (LOL! The last book ends with a vision of an enormous cube coming out of heaven as the City of God; bit like end of Close Encounters of 3rd Kind). The first book refers to our original design but then getting separated from and losing our regular contact with our maker, thereby letting another spirit-being take over our rulership of the earth – it’s bedevilled our progress ever since and tried stopping the restoration of that relationship wherever and whenever we let it.

        Much as our maker wants and has facilitated a way for that return via Jesus, the choice is ours. Once taken and whether or not we’re blessed with a life-changing encounter with him, we get to live in a relationship like you describe: “that augments my original purpose so it makes a natural partnership” – exactly so but with exciting extras!

        Hope this may help in some small way.

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    • As with the League of Nations and the UN. the possibilities of how they operate is crucial. The EU was originally conceived as a way to defeat the very long history of conflict between the many separate nations but the setup has acted to impoverish a certain sector of the area at the benefit of, at most, a couple of the members. Greece is not only going into deep depression but all its public resources are being sold off to a greedy group of financiers who will ensure that the country will remain impoverished permanently and the same type of economic conquest is taking place in Italy and Spain. A true union would be organized to encourage recovery and a decent economic system for all members. This is definitely not what is going on.

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      • Agree entirely and pre-millennium(?) forecasts were of dangers of global north-south rich-poor divide producing migrations if not revolutionary upheavals. The first are overwhelming Europe and that divide isn’t across the Med but further north to include the three southerly peninsular appendages below Europe. Even Justin Welby has at last spoken out against the EU’s treatment of those countries.

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  9. Pingback: Friday Links (snails in love edition) | Font Folly·

  10. Pingback: It’s a coincidence, right? – IDEADECO·

  11. A great article, I agree with you that not all the people around the world enjoy the same basic rights. Change can’t be without sacrifice and highest level of consciousness, we need a proper conscience to transform our world from tragedy to a wonderful life. Regarding small minds and greatest minds, I observe that who has a greatest mind has reached a highest level of consciousness, we need to heal our soul and let use our major negative and worst things for enlightenment.

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    • Thank you very much for your kind words! I am glad you enjoyed the article and that you found some agreement with the content. The recent news since I wrote this has done little to comfort me.

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  12. I did enjoy reading it, however, I do disagree with some or more points. But that’s ok, I would be very glad to be able to express opinions and convictions with a level of reason and detachment.
    I am a person that has chanted USA, I have fought for this country and gave maybe a bit more than most but by no means the most as some have.
    I still see a future for humanity, where nationality is relevant. In fact, I see it as a necessity. If not for borders, we wouldn’t have distinct cultures. While some we can do without, many can exist, and should exist if not we decent into uniformity.
    Even if our planet, sun, cluster and galaxy are unremarkable, they are all unique. No other star is as our sun. Similar, but not the same. Without these variations the universe would not be able to exist. Order is a utopic concept. Chaos is where life occurs.
    So, I can see a future with flags on the side of starships. Errr….
    Well, we need to get to thos ships. Unfortunately, as I said being from the US, I have faced some truly horrid behavior. Being occused of being an oppressor based on the color of my skin, is oppression in itself. And thus, my work and research never made it to publish. I wonder how many others have been silenced or relegated to “crack pot” domain, simply because of political ideology.
    That is what keeps us from evolving and making real progress.

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    • Not to worry at all – differences of opinion are not feared but encouraged on this website, and it gives me far more to think about talking to someone on the other side of the coin so thank you for speaking up. I do see the need for borders, as described in the marking of administrative functions and allowing certain customs but I don’t think we should romanticize borders and countries. The reason I think it is so important to reach a cooperative stage of mankind before we reach out further is we know from history mans thirst for territory leads to bloody conflict. I don’t think it is wise to seek out interplanetary expansion without resolving the differences on the planet. Perhaps we can find a way of peace with strong patriotism – I don’t see it myself but I would love to be proved wrong! I don’t think anything you have said is wrong by the way; it’s just not the same as my view!

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      • I say this all the time. I am a cynic, and love to be proven wrong in many areas. But man has a nature, and it is quintessential. I was discussing this with somebody, and as much as war is bad, I would like to see peace, but it is a conflict that we’ve come to rely on for growth internal and technological. The only way I see peace and unity with patriotism and cultural differences maintained, is if there are alien civilizations out there, and they prove hostile. In other words, we stop fighting each other, because we have something else to fight. The best I think, at least for now, is for us to acknowledge this, and try to make the best of it, forcing a change, or ignoring it are not ideal situations. Of course, there are exceptions, there are always exceptions, unless I finally complete my GUT in which case, there are non, it all follows the one formula lol

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      • Im glad you see it that way. In the US right now things are a bit crazy, and universities are even more crazy. But its good to truly have an open mind, meaning listening to another, not shutting them out if they dont think like you do, or listening and then insulting them. I dont mean this strictly politically, but with science too. As far as borders, its tough. People need motivation, those baser instincts are how things get done. I serve in the military and without it, I wouldn’t have accomplished much. Territory is part of our animal heritage. It would be nice if everyone got along, but I don’t think we’d get as much done. Think of the lengths people go for love, which is just basically nature forcing us to reproduce. It not for that instinct, women would certainly not give birth, at least not twice lol. (by the way, just NOW i was able to resolve the problems with replying)

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  13. Wow! Insightful/thoughtful reflection. You seem more knowledgeable on these issues than most Americans. 🙂 Though I don’t totally agree with everything you mentioned, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Particularly about the “silent opposers”. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you. 🙂

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  14. Pingback: Thinking big in a small world — Rationalising The Universe |·

  15. How does one ultimately look at the bigger picture? Do we have the capacity, or are we determined by the unrelenting zeitgeist? I agree with your thesis as an ideal and goal, and like your note that many good thinkers emphasized the bigger picture in their discoveries (I think of the progress of metaphysics, for instance), our universal significance … But ultimately, how does one achieve this intellectual and moral transcendence? Isn’t that part of the human struggle? This is not a refutation or critique, as I find your points very persuasive and compelling … but I wonder how we achieve the goal of overcoming our oversights. Does it come down to mere thinking? If so, what kind of thinking? Or is action and behavior key? But if so, what must we do? It seems difficult to overcome our cognitive and logical biases, for starters, and really see the universe for what it really is. It’s nearly impossible to break out of our subjective limitations. I guess I ask that because I too crave the glimpse of the bigger picture … but also feel it’s easy to drown in that picture, to be overcome by the sheer vastness of it all and to lose. Never an argument to stop fighting for big thinking, it’s a great blog with terrific questions posed, and I shared your post on my blog …

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    • Yes I agree with you – in the post I have offered an end state that would be advantageous, but not offered a vehicle in order to get there. I think in truth the answer lies within education. The education system is run like a corporation – to achieve maximum economic efficiency and meet targets; namely exams. There is a general outlook that an average mass of “quite good” is the best possible outcome, and learning beyond the curriculum should be discouraged. We then have mass of people that are released into the world and must either join similar target driven businesses of feel lost. The greatest discoveries the human race ever made were through intellectual play; learning for the sake of learning to satisfy curiosity. If we can instill this in our children, we create questioning intellectually curious humans who are not easy prey for politicians like Trump.

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      • Yes, I totally agree: Our education system is part of the problem and it should be about intellectual play. Why do you think our society doesn’t value intellectual play and learning just to learn? Where did those conditions come from, do you think? Not everyone has the resources and space to do what philosophers and people like Einstein and Dirac have done. I ask because I feel the affects in many aspects of my life, and it can be difficult to get around. I wonder, then, how we can fight the future, as it were, specifically regarding education, because I think your emphasis is important and spot on.

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