Monday, 26 December 2011

Being Alive - Chemical Components and Consciencious Considerations

Either life on this planet has adapted phenomenally to the planet, or the planet has adapted to the life. I am inclined to think it is a combination of both, because in all such things, it is always, always, a little of both. Life itself is exceedingly and wonderfully adaptable, resilient, and creative - elements and cells in concert creating chemical cocktails that manage to build protein chains and DNA that somehow thrives within almost every environment you care to find it in. This is truly remarkable.

Human life is one of the more interesting examples of this - and not just because we, being human, are so very biased. As Bill Bryson puts it in his wonderful work 'A Short History of Nearly Everything,' if the earth was tectonically tranquil and perfectly, spherically smooth, it would be 'covered everywhere with water to a depth of 4km. There might be life in that lonesome ocean, but it wouldn't be football.'

We seem to have evolved adaptively to have an incredible chemical harmony with the world around us, and the building blocks that form and fuel it, and us. Consider what happens when you combine one of the most chemically unstable elements with one of the most toxic - you get ordinary table salt. Expose one of them to open air and it will explode; the other will poison you with prejudice. The ingredients in water, ironically, are two of the universe's more famously flammable elements.

What about elements that are not naturally more or less everywhere - including rarer naturally occuring ones, industrial pollutants, extraterrestrial and radioactive elements and so on? We react to these in what can only be called disagreeable ways. Again to borrow from Bill Bryson '(no amount of plutonium) is not going to make you want to lie down'

Life is insane, truly. Like a mad scheme that somehow pulled itself off here, but not, on say, Venus, or the moon, or Ceres or Neptune. This is not to say that among the trillions of other planets that this universe (or indeed, among the multiverse, if it or anything like it exists) contains, life does not, did not, or will not exist. But it will be of a different type. Perhaps we may be visited by a race of beings who are grateful for their plutonium spires, ammonium suplhate glaciers and their polished-marble-smooth planet with its absence of tectonic anything. How might these beings react to see us thriving in our air conditioned shopping centres and offices, largely ignoring our parks and oceans and natural beauty? How might they react to those natural (and unnatural) features we grew up in and on? Not to mention the obstinate and bizarre chemicals in the atmosphere that we breathe, and in and on the earth we walk upon.

I am aware that I borrowed more than just the quotations in this article from the book by Bill Bryson. I did so because I took his conclusion a necessary and important giant step further: almost all of us never invest the time to discover how truly rare, insane, beautiful, valuable and precarious is life, and our little planet's capability to produce and sustain it. For those who *do* this, there is a very real danger of being trapped in the magnificence of the knowledge.

This is twofoldly dangerous. First, as Slavoj Zizek so poignantly pointed out, such ideological posturing addresses very real things by mystifying them into something surreal. And second, the cosmos is quite obscenely, simply mind-blowingly vast, and our knowledge of this, the most important context to consider ourselves within - the universal, in every sense of the word - may be similarly infantile and stunted as a bull ant in my backyard's understanding of the tectonic and religious history of the Himalayas. Therefore, the extraordinariness we attribute to our existence may not be quite so fabulous after all.

And if it is not so fabulous, then we should waste no time sitting open mouthed like beached guppies about it.

Regardless how fabulous it is or is not, it is the only physical chance at living we will ever get. It can be taken for granted almost as much as the awesomeness of it can mesmerise us. This is to say, none at all. Especially now that, by our own decadent industrial obscenely over-consumptive hands, we are destroying the capacity of the planet to sustain us. Stop fucking around, people. Maybe you want to die (most of you act like it, nonchalantly, narcissistically naive about what is going on), but I do not. And unfortunately as it may seem, especially if you are offended at my abruptness, we are all in this together.

I am human.

I Am Human
J Ivory 25-12-2011

The capability and creativity of the human being
To spin shit never ceases to amaze me.
There seems no bound to what human minds can contrive
The spirit fabricate.
Potential is all too often subverted
By impulsive lusts for violent vapidity perverted.
We are creatures of insatiable appetites, of squalor and waste.
Usually of hate.
Dirty, self-deprecating, and all too often disgrace.
How can something so broken like the colossi
Inside time,
The world steward, the food chain stand astride?
But colliding astride these shattered titanic woes
Is the artisan's gift, the craft of artist and poet.
The human being is the idea of Christ
And the pungent shame-wracked dipshit on ice
And the middle-class bigoted have-me-not consuming the world
And the unwashed pot-fucked activist doing no good at all.
The 99% who claim they're fucked; the 1% who might be fucking you.
The all-like-sheep-that's-gone-astray, the philosopher caressing truth
The cashed-up bogan, the pretentious academic
The brimstone preacher spouting hatred and polemic
All of these and absolutely everything in between
These are all a part of human, you, and me, and of being.

Friday, 23 December 2011

A Simple Paradox.

Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...and there exists diminishing returns / receding horizons.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

On Christianity, Faith, and Where Our "Morals" Come From.

On Christianity, Faith, and Where Our "Morals" Come From.

There are so very many splinter groups, denominations and sects of christianity...all of them fractured and agreeing to a begrudging ceasefire with a handful of groups who are similar, in order to appear and to feel less like just another splinter group that has no credibility.

That is one facet of the face of christianity - and it, like all truth, never changes with time. So that being true, how can the believer say they are right, but the devout muslim, or the faithful mormon, or the earnest hindu, or the stalwart atheist, or the <insert christian sect here> are wrong? Their faith surely can't be any less - so how did they end up putting their faith in something else?

This is not about taking away what people believe in, what gives them hope, and what they kind of life they choose to create - we all (grudgingly admitted) have that right, and our minds are indeed powerful and beautiful enough to fabricate anything that we desire. But that is truly what religion is, a construct to enhance life and entrench ideologies. Sign up and be blessed with peace in this life, absolute assurance that you are right, and that your obedience and service in this life guarantees a place of honour in the life to come.

The first problem I find with that is it is counter-intuitive and actually inhibits the growth of humankind, which is based around the moral imperative of empathy, and not some scripture or charismatic machinations by 'founding fathers' and 'prophets.' 

Religion invariably leads to the creation of division, segregation, prejudice, and the 'alien other,' who is to be feared. Look to the shattered and divided face christianity presents to the world, for instance.

Faith is not required for human beings to do right by each other and themselves. In fact, fear of divine and eternal punishment and lust for divine and eternal reward are, in the theist's mind, always going to be among the prime motive forces that compel them. These influences, in short, corrupt, distort, and distract from (in the same way that one does not name one's doctor the beneficiary of one's estate) the empathic urge that is what really compels us to be moral and good and binding to and for each other.

Empathy is the true invisible hand. If there is a Divine Creator of All That Is, then Empathy is the name of his/her/its/their hand(s). Empathy is hard-wired into our neurological biology. This has been known to science for nearly twenty years. And thus, the laboratory, one of the great think-tanks of the current step of evolution of human consciousness is proving what most of us have always known deep in our bones - Empathy which is grounded in our knowledge that we are all in this together, this acknowledgement of death, the celebration of life, and therefore in rooting for each other to flourish and to be.

This is a 10 minute video that captures all of this, more or less, in one very epic nutshell.

~Joel Ivory