Cassandra

Two shots from a lone gunman killed crown prince Ferdinand and his wife, which brought on World War I with its millions of dead.

Those kinds of consequences are neither predictable nor imaginable before they become history.

The same is true of all tipping points. When a boulder is crushed by the relentless,building pressure in a fault below the sea, as happens all the time, no one can predict in advance whether the tipping point leading to the onset of a massive earthquake and tsunami will be crossed, and virtually no one can imagine the death and destruction which that boulder’s giving way will cause.

Thus, when climatologists warn of tipping points being approached on climate change, it is trivial to be in denial, for no one can say, “There, that’s the boulder we must not crush.”

Unfortunately, knowing the danger exists is not helpful in convincing others of that danger.
Nor does knowing the danger exists give much insight into imagining the extent of the tragedy which may follow crossing the tipping point. The Leadership in Europe had no idea that the war they were willing to start in 1914 would change our entire concept of war. Just as scientists today will not embrace the idea that humanity may be on the verge of planeticide.

And knowing the future is not helpful in convincing others of your knowledge.

Would a fiery death open closed eyes? Certainly not before the topic of just what climate change might bring about as a worst case scenario is prepared for a discussion.  But how long might that take?

The Good Thing About Philosophy

The good thing about philosophy is that everyone gets to guess. The bad thing is that no one gets to know.

It’s a lot like life after death in that way.

That may amount to a defining characteristic. Defining for “life” I mean.

I mean, who’s to say what life’s all about? And why should I believe what he/she says anyway?

I’m not one who willingly lends credence to another simply because he/she speaks  authoritatively. Far too many of those who do clearly have no clue.

And I, myself, have to admit to being in exactly that situation, save having the authoritative voice. When the issue is large enough, I just have to remind myself that there are just a lot of things no one will ever be sure of. At least, not via any rules of logic.

One of the really hard theorems I had to comprehend from mathematics, Godel’s completeness  theorem, was really pretty easy to grasp, when you came down to it. It says that there are always contradictions in any logical system that’s rich enough to answer all the questions you can ask.

I find it easier to accept that there are questions I just have to realize I don’t  know the answer to than to accept answers that contradict one another. Almost all philosophical questions strike me as being in that category.

I’ve just been to a memorial service.  Who’s to say what life or death is all about?

On Pain

Last Tuesday, at about 1:30, I began to experience excruciating pain in my lower  left side.  At first I tried to call Barbara, but the signal on my cell phone was too weak to make the call from the room I was in.  By the  time I got to the room with the land line I’d decided to call 911.

The  dispatcher volunteered to call Barbara as soon as the paramedics were on site.  By the time they got here, the pain had subsided and I managed to help them get me into the gurney.  The pain seemed to be coming in waves, and I was virtually painless all the way to the E.R. It arose again just as I entered the E.R., and I began to  vomit.

Barbara met me there, although they separated us for about forty-five minutes while I awaited a Doctor.

I lay by myself for virtually the entire time after they put a robe on me, cleaned me  up some, and got two admission papers semi-signed by me (I couldn’t have i.d.ed  the signatures).

I  don’t recall having had such pain except possibly once before when I passed another stone years earlier in England.  This was rather different, though, and was more localized in what seemed like a specific part of my intestines. I thought of a bowel  blockage,  like the one that killed my friend, Pann.  Because of an allergic   reaction I had as a youth from a codeine based nasal spray, they weren’t able to give me pain medication for virtually the entire time while they confirmed with a pharmacist that it was relatively safe to do so.

I attempted to relieve the pain by Trumpeting, a form of meditation I discovered 28  years earlier.  It’s quite loud, and I suspect I’d have been left alone for quite a bit longer if there hadn’t have been a weird sound permeating the entire emergency area from my room.

The whole experience put me back into considering the phenomenon of seizing up.

There was no way, during the ordeal, that I was going to deal with anything but the pain.  One moment I was going about my business just like it was any old day.  The next I was dealing with the pain, and nothing else. That’s how it will be for each of  us–even those who die quickly–I expect. Death will, almost certainly, surprise us in very stark ways.

Oh, I guess it may be possible to die without pain, but it’s hard to imagine.  At  the
least, though, one must be aware of his/her own passing. That that doesn’t get your full attention, visibly asleep or not, I don’t question.

There seems to be, however, inherent in the assumption that a transition exists, or that you are apt to notice, a belief in something beyond the soul lying there in the background somewhere.

Anyway, once the pain  starts, it’s too late to get anything more  done.  And there is very likely to be no advanced warning. Unless, of course, you see this as a warning.

I’m just saying . .