Sunday, October 15, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Philosophy

Society is a body to be nourished not a stick to be straightened. 

A duck is not a rabbit and a rabbit is not a duck.

"Not that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man but the appetite with which it is consumed."--Thoreau

"Not that which goes into the mouth that defiles a man but that which comes out."--Jesus

Monday, October 9, 2017

Magnetic Slingshot Device for Space Travel



Based on the reality that if you drop an iron cylinder through a successive set of hollow electromagnets which each turn off just before the iron cylinder reaches them, there will be no terminal velocity, I propose a space shuttle which is oval and disk-shaped with thrusters on the bottom which blasts through a long line of these electro-oscillating magnets.  The device would be placed in space, orbiting the earth.

The disk shape would utilize the greatest magnetic surface area for its mass.


Please let me know if you would be interested in designing this idea.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How Karma Could Interfere With Justice

Let's say a five-year-old child was abused.  If you believe a person can inherit bad karma from the previous life you might believe the child deserved what he got.  Be very careful with this concept.  It must not interfere with bringing perpetrators to justice.

Meriting Celestial Realms

As I've said before I don't necessarily have experiential knowledge of karma unless the devastating psychosis I experienced in 2006 counts as karma for fucking with Buddhism.  Just prior to that episode I wrote a kind of fable in which I tried to take down the Buddhist claim that there was no self.  I said, "Do you believe one is one's own refuge?"  Is one one's own?  Is one not one's own?  I ended up with four statements: I am a self but I am not my own.  I am no self but I am my own.  ( This last statement follows if the person says he is not a self but he is his own refuge.)  And by extension, I said: I am a self, but my self is found in others.  I am no self, but I am inhabited by others. 

What followed was a spiritual head-reaming.  Maybe that was negative karma.  But what about all the shit I went through in high school?  Did those people suffer their negative karma?  The evidence for this concept seems inconsistent at best.  People do get away with murder.  Just look at Detroit.  Nevertheless, in absence of concrete proof one way or the other, I live in hopes of meriting celestial realms.  I live in hopes of justice, maybe even mercy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reincarnation, Continued

If karma does not exist (and I have no reason to think it does), I could be a reincarnation of anyone in the past, who lived before I was born. Consider this: If someone hits me over the head I will see stars (as opposed to some other geometric form). But so would anyone else. It doesn't matter which human brain you have, everyone sees stars, because the process of getting hit over the head and the brain's way of processing that event is the same for everyone (more or less). No one reports seeing squares instead of stars. If a bee stings me on the back of the hand then stings you on the back of the hand the only difference in perception would be in degree, not kind. The reaction to the bee sting is universal in kind but maybe not in degree. The point is that our underlying awareness is common (more or less), not unique. Humans are genetically very similar. 

Since awareness is a process it can cease to exist then exist again. I can play a song ten times on ten different radios. The confusion comes in when people think of living things as objects. But minds are patterned processes, not objects.

I am a continuation of what I was a year ago. Likewise, I would not _necessarily_ expect to have an absolutely identical baseline awareness as the person I was in a previous life. All that would be needed is for certain key features to be the same. If I project a square of light onto a wall it could slowly turn into a circle. But the circle would be a coherent continuation of the square.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Soul

I just want to say that I do believe humans have souls.  I have seen at least one image--a horn hung between two fires--that I think is from the akashic records.  It felt like an ancient image.  But I am not sure of disembodied consciousness.

It may be that the essence is consciousness, or that it enables consciousness to exist in a disembodied form.  Here's an argument for the essence: There cannot be an infinite series of conditioned realities.  A conditioned reality is a reality which is dependent on other things (component parts) for its existence.  A hydrogen atom is a conditioned reality, because protons and electrons must exist for hydrogen atoms to exist.  Each component layer--molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, etc.--is a conditioned reality.  Since each layer is completely dependent on the layer beneath it there must be an unconditioned reality--a reality which has no component parts--for the same reason that an infinite series of zeroes does not add up to one.  This debunks materialism, because the essence (unconditioned reality) is not a material form of reality, since all material forms of reality are made of component parts.  And since this essence actively sustains the cosmos, it is God.

Illness

I'm bipolar (I) and I was able to include a comment in response to a complaint about microaggressions today.  I said people should not expect the world to change for them, but should develop an internal locus of control.  Several other disabled people actually upvoted the comment.  I was surprised and gratified.

People don't understand that if you make just two changes you can improve your life drastically.  First, take responsibility for your actions.  This puts your life in your hands.  Second, (and this is kind of a panacea) stop caring so much.  Life will hurt a lot less.


An Argument For Reincarnation


Imagine you’ve just come home from work. You sit down and relax, not in any elated or distressed state of mind. The state of awareness you are in—the emotional state you return to and have returned to all your life—can exist in a future life. That calm state is who you are from a point of view of awareness. I refer to this as baseline awareness.

Don’t confuse this with an object. If I throw a bowling ball into a volcano it’s gone for good. I can make one just like it but I won’t have the same one ever again. This is the way it is with objects, but processes are different. I can sing the same song again and again, because a song is a process. Awareness is also a patterned process in the brain. But it is probably not unique. The same parts of the brain light up for anger or sadness in everyone. Your baseline awareness—the awareness you return to after a heated moment—is probably something that is common to many other people. Who’s to say it can’t exist again?

So, if a baby born today has the same baseline awareness as a baby from 1,000 years ago the baby born today is a reincarnation of the baby from 1,000 years ago.  No matter how much a person changes he can only become himself.


About baseline awareness, there are three and only three possibilities: 1.) it is unique to each person 2.) It is possessed by different groups (meaning each group possesses it’s own baseline awareness ). 3.) It is common to everyone. The reason I strongly doubt the first option is that different emotions (anger, sadness, etc.) are activated by the same parts of the brain for everyone. Anger is one pattern of brain activity, sadness another, etc. Also, people act like me when they are relaxing. This simply means that you can tell when someone is relaxing or tense. So, since either option 2 or 3 is more likely, reincarnation probably occurs, because baseline awareness is the part of me that feels, and the self arises from awareness.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Eugenics

One purpose of eugenics is to create a ruling class that was born to rule. Since eugenics would not be enforced by a rigid worldwide mandate (let's hope!) it would create a ruling class and a ruling society. This would create extreme hopelessness among the ruled and would grant license to the rulers. In the past the only thing that made this bearable was the obvious flaws in the system, so that the commoners could laugh at the stupid king. Likewise, the only thing that would make it unbearable would be its flawlessness.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Meditations

Marcus Aurelius wrote an excellent book about 1,800 years ago called Meditations.  It is compiled from notes addressed to himself.  In it he describes his stoic philosophy, how it takes a kind of middle path between (for instance) being an overly social person and a recluse.  In it he says a person who is wholly good would not regret missing pleasure and concludes that pleasure is therefore neither beneficial nor good.  I disagree with this, thinking that pleasure is the only thing that makes life worth living.  But as someone great once said, "Happiness is remembered, not experienced."  Thus, happiness comes from remembering times we now consider good.

An English professor once told us to read the ancient texts, and that is what I am doing now.  I have already read a good many of them: The Odyssey, The Tao Te Ching, The Bible, some of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, and others.  I already imbibe enough of this world.  I want to travel back in time.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Greatest Good

I keep trying to decide what the greatest good is.  I used to think it was love.  Then I thought it was freedom.  Now I think the answer is in the Hindu tradition.  To dissolve into the highest experience is love and freedom.  It is love because it fulfills.  It is freedom because it breaks chains of bondage (in my experience, temporarily).  To be absorbed by something completely is the greatest thing.

On day I was sitting on my bed when I began to hear a jet passing overhead.  The sound entered me at the top and moved down into my chest and then into my lower parts.  This experience was like nothing I had ever felt before.  The only thing I could compare it to was the eeriness that comes from watching "A Warm Place" by Nine Inch Nails.  It totally opened me up.  I was completely absorbed by the sound.  I dissolved into it.

I have felt nirvana before.  This was a more moving feeling.  I wasn't just liberated.  I was opened.  I blossomed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

This Really Happened

Synchronicity happens to me from time to time, but the other day, about two weeks ago, something absolutely remarkable happened.  It qualified as a remarkilarity.  I wrote a poem about how one event begets another, and how that one begets still another, etc.  Right after I wrote this poem I got in my car to go to Wal-Mart.  The song that was playing on the radio was that song that ends by saying, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Electrocusive!

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Poem

Friendships

All the friendships I make
I make with myself first.  My body grows
tense with handshakes.  Every man
I come to know makes knowing him
the hardest thing imaginable,
the deepest excavation, the dirtiest
dig.  The rope that leads out of me
does not lead away from me. 
Anyone who can climb me does.
Strangers watch me acquaint
myself with music, each of my fingers
touching the sky when I touch
my chest.  Women sit around me
and look at their toes.  I am beauty
that only becomes.  What’s missing
is the knowledge of having lived,
that old root cellar of reserved
gestures.  I wake in the morning
and run.  My punishment consists
of miles, the hard luck of laughter,
an enemy’s insolence, wilderness
in a child’s voice, the spot
on the map where everyone comes
to cry.



Joel Fry

Published in the Florida Review.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Self

When pain occurs it occurs to me. Otherwise I would not merely feel pain. There is distance between myself and what I feel. --If I had no self--if there were no me--I would be the pain I feel, because there would be no distance between it and the part of my mind I call my self. I would be a room full of fire rather than a room lit by fire.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which means that the whole is something completely other than the sum of its parts. The self arises out of this. The Buddha said that if one breaks down a person's consciousness into its components he finds no self. That is beside the point.

You can transcend the self, or dissolve the self, but that is a lower state of consciousness (perhaps), not a higher one. In deep states of meditation Buddhist monks feel no physical pain. That's because they've shut off part of their brains. Lower cognizance equals lower consciousness, in a sense. But it could also open up the mind to a different dimension of awareness. A dimmer switch could actually make some things more visible.

I have felt, at fleeting moments, what may be referred to as nirvana--that is, complete clarity. But I don't know whether that made me more or less like a snail, more or less like a deer, more or less like a plant. I'm talking about awareness not intelligence.

The Way Things Are

For now, consider the ducks in the park.  They squabble over food, but they never worry about the way things are, because they are unaware of death and rebirth.  But I try not to worry about the way things are for different reasons.  I am aware of death and rebirth.  If there is an ultimate good, moksha or nirvana, it is not something I can fully comprehend, except to say that I have felt a brief whiff of it in this life, but it was not something I could maintain.  I can only aim at something I can grasp with my mind.  How can I aim at liberation?  When I have felt it I neither knew where it came from nor how it was arrived at.  The world is dynamic.  While I have a nature, the nature of reality is atman.  Maybe my nature is the same as the nature of reality.  It must be so.  But since I don't know how to arrive at the ultimate state of union I must be satisfied with assuring myself that "the way things are" is simply an illusion.  The present is not the past, and the future is not like the present either, not exactly.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The New Moderates

I don't know about you, but I am sick of extreme conservatives and extreme liberals. I propose we start a new organization called The New Moderates. Why? Because the media does not cover the concerns and actions of moderates. We aren't fringe enough to warrant air time. Instead, people like Michael Savage blare their voices across the airwaves and groups like Evergreen College are constantly getting the spotlight by inciting chaos. Never mind that Michael Savage is not conservative in his demeanor, as if a disconnect between conservative values and conservative demeanor shouldn't raise an eyebrow. Never mind that the far left says I shouldn't have freedom of speech because I was born with the wrong color skin.
Enough. We need to hear from reasonable voices that can tie the nation to a center, to keep it from drifting apart. We need people who understand that the rights of individuals cannot be infringed upon by the state, but that the individual also has a responsibility to pay his fair share in taxes to support the nation he claims to love. We need people who understand that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness hinges on affordable health care. We need a return to politeness and civil discourse, a return to humility, and leaders who enculture these values in the people.
We need to protect our borders without assuming that a useless, expensive wall can do what fences can't. We need a police force that encourages mentorship and that reaches out to the community. We need a body politic that is instructed on how to interact with the police. And we need thorough character evaluations of potential police officers before they are hired. Certain personality types must be barred from becoming officers.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Poem

Every Winter

The Snake River slithers
up to the old man’s house every winter
through oak thickets and brambles,
through a latticework of layered leaves.
It carries enough driftwood to build
a city. He lives close to the tumbling water,
close to all he knows -- near catfish, bass,
bream and gar.

Always he hears the climbing
ripples slink away like the woman
who brought him crooning to her nest,
the cottage of her fingers, who inhabits
his study of rage and remorse, whose face
he sees blood-red and stamped on the sky
big as a harvest moon.
 
The cloudy night carries him
through desire. It swaddles him
through a tour of every woman
he has known, through torrents
of elegance when he reaches for flesh
and blood but finds only bed sheets,
when he hears only his heartbeat and
the distant howl of a neighbor’s dog.
 
His voice courses through a fever
of starlight, a promenade of echoes.
He is poised on the edge of a mystery
he cannot command, a chorus he cannot escape.
Life is a one-act play that loves to repeat itself.
The river covers the sounds of his prayers,
the rumbles of his body’s ecstasy, the memory
of a summer that curled his torso. The water
swallows every approaching sound. He lives
by its permission.


Joel Fry

(Published in Birmingham Arts Journal.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Free Will (fleshed out)

Free will is entirely possible, even if there is a part of my brain which automatically makes an unconscious decision for me before I make the same conscious decision a moment later. If I choose to to go on a diet without having the desire to lose weight (so that the decision to go on a diet is based on an evaluation that I am fat rather than a desire to lose weight) that decision will produce the expectation that I will forgo eating lunch tomorrow. That expectation will in turn deaden my desire to eat lunch the next day so that when the next day comes I will choose to forgo eating lunch. This is an example of a completely free choice.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Free Will!!!

I can decide to lose weight without having any desire to. This decision can produce an expectation, which in turn can produce a desire or deaden a desire. In this case the choice was completely free.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Forces

No matter how great you are if you don't stop for the train it will kill you just as if you were anyone else. When a man steps into a river he enlarges the river, but the river does not enlarge him.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pain

I know that pain is occurring to me. This limits my pain. But if I were nothing but sense perception (like a slug?) I would not merely feel pain. I would be pain.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Night Sky

If you look up to the night sky on a clear night you will see an image which is all background with no need for foreground to establish perspective.  This is the only image I can think of that does this.  It is immediately perceived, which is why the night sky is so powerful and refreshing.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Poem

Significance

Pain makes me matter.
My blossoming leg muscles ache 
and my mind dances as thunder sweeps
through the face of a storm.  This is the miracle
that miracles won’t stop.
Old sunlight made of memory in cracked
glass makes me move to recent wonder.
One delight leads to another
until joy leads to nothing at all.  The rain falls,
steady as light shedding the weight 
of the world, making the earth consistent
with its burden.  Not even a snail crosses
the path of my suffering.
In the woods I can find the river and follow
it as if I were following the veins
of my wrists, but I cannot find the city,
which reveals neither hide nor hair
of its material existence.
Everyone who seeks starlight looks
for the place in his body
where he is pierced and he finds a hole
leading to the end of his affairs,
the concourse through his common night.


Joel Fry

Published in Eclectica.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Insincerity

The reason so many white people go into shopping malls and shoot 30 people is because they live in a society in which people say, "Hey man, I'll call you," and the call never comes. That kind of insincerity will drive you up the wall. --No, I'm not talking about myself. Life is good.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Biology Question

If a man can lift 200 pounds while he is not sexually aroused how much can he lift while he is sexually aroused and adrenalin is flowing?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Secret of The Buddha

One day the Buddha was walking in the forest with Ananda, his closest disciple, and Ananda said to the Buddha, "Lord, have you told us everything that you have to teach us or are there things which you know which you have not taught." The Buddha held out his hands full of leaves and said,"The leaves which you see in the Blessed One's hands are the things which I teach, and the leaves you see spread on the forest floor are the things I know which I do not teach."

Here is the meaning of this: If you hold a green leaf up to the sunlight you can see that the leaf is made of individual cells. The Buddha would have known this. He could have inferred that the bodies of all living things are made of cells, but he did not teach this because it would have confused people.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Two Models of Truth (unfinished)

The first model of truth is that of a map that allows one to make it through a maze.  In this case the map must match reality exactly.  Truth is made of all true statements that pertain to the objective world.  In the second case truth is a raft one uses to get across a river.  But in this case also, truth is made of all true statements that pertain to subjective needs.  Anything that floats well enough and holds together and is made of true statements that promote my needs is truth.

The map model of truth represents scientific truth.  The raft model represents morality.  Science must accurately model reality as closely as possible.  Morality, on the other hand, must provide a way of weathering the turbulence of reality.  What are rights? What are responsibilities?  These are constructs.  But pain and pleasure are at least real.  Morality maps pain and pleasure.

If I say that I have the right to freedom of speech, that is a true statement, but that is true because someone else has the obligation to let me speak my mind.  Here, however, truth is not a map that must be followed lest I reach a dead end but an allowance that must be granted so that I don't perish beneath the waves.

The disagreement between science and philosophy sometimes comes down to a disagreement as to which model best represents truth.  I have needs that must be met.  Whereas the objective world makes demands that also must be met.  But both must be acknowledged.  To ask whether my needs match the objective reality is wrongheaded.  The two often have nothing to do with one another.

It must never be the case that reliance on one model completely supplants the use of the other model, because if that occurs then most people will fail in the world model that has been destroyed or displaced.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Zen

The moment you say this IS the way it is you are discerning the object in view as having certain features which are discrete from other objects and their features. It is what it is only because that’s what it came to be. All change produces change in the future, and that change produces change in the future, ad infinitum. Change is irreversible. Change is permanent.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Transcendental Trespass

Despite Alister Crowley's statement "Do what thou wilt" it is possible to trespass against the transcendental.  Transcendental trespass is commonly known as blasphemy.  The only reason Crowley's statement has any bearing is that it is ridiculous, feeble, and obviously false.  It attempts to deny that a trespass can be made against the transcendental.  And yet millions of such trespasses are made each day.  Without a violation of the sacred there is nothing sacred, and if nothing is sacred nothing can be profane.  And if nothing is profane nothing is worthwhile.  And if nothing is worthwhile nothing is knowable.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why I Am Not a Buddhist



Think of the history the West Coast, and ask yourself this question: When did the West Coast begin its slide toward radical leftism? The answer is, of course, the 1950s. The catalyst was Buddhism.  

I am a poet, and while I do like some of Allan Ginsburg’s poetry, especially “Howl”—I also realize that the Beatnik Movement, which preceded the Hippy Movement was the decisive moment at which the West Coast began its descent into hell.

Ginsburg was a profoundly devoted Jewish convert to Buddhism. I’ve even heard that at one point he bowed down and worshipped a man in Central Park because he recognized this man as a Bodhisattva. Ginsburg was so devoted that he co-founded Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. You don’t get much more liberal than that.

But what did the Buddha actually teach? When asked whether a human is a self he said this question must be set aside.  He also taught that all phenomena are impermanent. Thus, he said there is merely suffering, but no one to experience suffering. There are deeds but no doer of deeds. There is only movement, but no one in the movement. However, we know that no matter how much we change we can only become ourselves.  No matter how many times I step into the Tennessee River it is always the Tennessee River because of its specific geographical location. Each life has a social context, which lends, or should lend, a kind of permanence to my life. My life consists of sensations and component impressions, but the whole of my life is greater than the sum of its impressions, because, as Aristotle noted, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  No wonder we are taught to believe that a grasshopper is simply a machine, because a machine has no individual awareness and is simply the sum of its parts. And how would someone recognize any part of life as unsatisfactory unless he had some point of satisfaction to compare it with, some ideal that stood apart from the parts?

The Buddha taught that the cycle of death and rebirth is without beginning, but he also taught that one should not accept something as truthful unless he sees that it is truthful, never mind that this kind of apprehension can be tricked and that philosophy is more than a matter of “seeing.” He taught that the stream of consciousness is without beginning, never mind that it is impossible to “see” an infinite regress and that, if there is consciousness outside the brain that still hasn’t been conclusively proven. And every stream has a source.

The Buddha says (to paraphrase)—truth is a raft one uses to get to the other side of a river. Once one gets to the other side, he leaves his raft behind. He overextends this metaphor. Truth is, indeed, a raft one uses to get across a river. But this is where the metaphor ends. The central obsession of Buddhism is letting go of attachments. So we are told to let go of truth. But in reality we retain truths in our minds. Letting go is not always the proper response.

The Buddha taught that the cycle of death and rebirth is without beginning, but that which never began to exist cannot cease to exist because it can never reach a point of not existing.

So why is there such a rush on the West Coast to embrace Buddhism. It is because Western white Buddhists believe that because “all component things are impermanent” that morals are also wishy washy. This is strange given that most Buddhists in Japan are usually cultural conservatives. Could it be that Westerners are just jaded? Whatever the case, Aristotle is a much more solid ground for ethics than the Buddha. But so is Confucius, who said, “The archer is a mature person in that when he misses the mark he finds the fault in himself.” China is, first and foremost, a Confucian culture, but so is all of the far east. In Japan, Buddhism is separated from the indigenous religion of Shinto. This is how they have dealt with the influx of Buddhism. The Buddha taught that since a person is simply the sum of his parts, “There is pain but no one to perceive the pain.” But Confucius will not allow the person to escape his personal responsibility by denying the offending self.

Joel Fry



Source: What The Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula.  All the facts pertaining to Buddhism can be verified in this text.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Establishing Reality

Truth is found not merely in the cohesion of two thoughts or in the resolution of a single thought with an external object, but in the cohesion of two thoughts and their joint resolution with an external object or reality. Example: It's a rainy day in February. Rainy days in February are always cold. Then: I walk outside and behold the cold, rainy day. This way of thinking and acting establishes reality. By walking outside I have a kind of epiphany, and when I am struck by the simultaneous collision and resolution of my thoughts and the external reality, I witness truth.

If I am only verifying the correctness of the single thought that it is raining by stepping outside there is no epiphany, only a bland concurrence of reality with my single thought.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Responding to Daniel Dennett

"A brain filled with apps is a human mind." Horse shit. A human being is aware, first, then self-aware. Self-awareness both affirms and denies the existence of different things. All this talk about the human brain and no mention that the brain responds out of a state of awareness, and no mention whatsoever that awareness comes and goes. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A human isn't just a brain. As my doctor told me, if you were just a brain in a vat it would be easier to treat you, but you have a body also. If there is no free will why can't I predict what you are thinking? On a good day I might be able to predict what you will DO, though usually not, but I am at a complete loss as to what you are thinking. Shouldn't I be able to predict what you are thinking as well as I can predict what you do? If human responses are inevitable there is no such thing as right and wrong, because nothing that is inevitable is immoral. Rain isn't immoral, neither is the explosion of a volcano no matter how many people it kills. And yet the very fact that we have morality means that we acknowledge right and wrong. If some process does not take the path of least resistance then some other variable must have interfered with the process. And yet in theory I can quit smoking even though my brain still wants to smoke! I had considered reading Dennett's book on consciousness, but it would obviously be a waste of time. (And how is it that my brain can distinguish between something that is obvious and something that isn't? Is that a function of intelligence or a function of awareness?) Dumbasses.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Virtue of Acting in The Extreme

Martin Luther King Jr. was successful by the means he chose to be successful. Gandhi was successful by the means he chose. The jest is to be extremely good. I may collect license plates on the side, and that would be considered soft-headed, but if I collect them carefully and obsessively enough, devoting all my free time to expanding my collection, I will be considered wise and admirable--because I am acting in the extreme.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Regress in the Trump

There's an regress in the trump: Donald Trump's doctor as magician; his magician as handyman; his handyman as plumber; his plumber as diagnostician; his diagnostician as bringer-of-bad-news; his bringer-of-bad-news as bringer-of-good-news; his bringer-of-good-news as public informant; his public informant as ontologist; his ontologist as proctologist; his proctologist as confidant; his confidant as doctor, etc.

Friday, February 3, 2017

After Trump's Speech

I haven't read what Trump actually said. For me there's a lot of conflict. We have Trump in office on the right with their goons and masses on the left who are ready and willing to riot and go to great collective lengths to stomp out freedom of speech. Clearly there is sanity, but those of us who are sane--in the middle--aren't caustic enough to get any air time. And the pendulum swings longer and wider.

Dr. King said, "The arc of history is long but it bends toward Justice." --And since the Christianization of Rome that has been the case, with some terrifying hitches. The church stopped the mass crucifixions and the gladiator games. Then, unfortunately, slavery became widespread in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. Then it was outlawed in Europe first, then here then in the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Then there were women's rights and the rights of minorities. Then we defeated the Nazis. Then came the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Then gay rights. And since WWII wartime deaths have been on the decline. So the Great Movement of history has been Justice. But you can notice the huge backlashes in history--slavery and the activity of the Axis Powers, each of which were convinced they were superior races.

When a nation is built on a constant struggle for Justice and Justice is actually achieved people become restless. Enter the "Social Justice" movement, which is nothing if not an outright effort to silent dissent. These people are Miniver Chevys. So we get what we have today--a decadent nation that cannot see beyond its borders, a nation that hasn't got the fortitude to tolerate any of the founding principles. The blind elect their kind as President. The choice was between postured and unpostured blindness. There is nothing more to protest but our own downfall.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Ontological Problem

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  A cow is not just a collection of atoms, but a whole, conscious being.  How much more is this true of a human?  And yet a computer is not conscious and is therefore simply the sum of its parts.

Another aspect of this ontological problem lies in the fact that something cannot be dead unless it was once alive.  A machine isn't even dead.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Poem

Then and Now

If I could hear the water running through
the rocks and the stones under my
feet rumbling, I could behold your voice
again and feel my surprise wherever I go. 
You crack a smile somewhere far away. 
I confer the warmth of a kiss
onto the most solitary star in the night sky. 
Coming here has always been my wish, and now
it is my reason.  From pulp to legal tender,
the truest reason is made from wishing,
and the first sign of spring is that which awakens
within me rather than what I awaken to. 
My first intention is an impulse budding,
not sunned by any need I know. 
I have another day on my mind I must overcome
to forget.  Old hurdle, I have jumped it
a million different ways.  I had a place in mind before
I came to this breezy garden, a maze full of yellow
roses and ivy.  How can I break this unending
splendor to myself, this actual solace of Japanese
maples in the first fog, that so exceeds the flowers
I had thought I would find?  The world I listen to
is the private enterprise of learning. 
I grow older in what I hear than in who I am. 
The years that approach me come to me
in the strictest silence and the starkest light,
and your voice is the clean break I make
with indifference, when you tell me how your father
cannot find himself among his many
waking hours.  There is no alarm for us. 
I keep what you said when you stood
behind me at the party last winter. 
I part my lips to receive your breath.


Joel Fry


Published in Poem.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why Poetry Must Become More Philosophical

The following essay (sans poem) was published in Eclectica.  The poem was published in Stirring in the summer of 2000.


Why Poetry Must Become More Philosophical

Since the 2006 publication of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins there has been a massively renewed interest in whether God exists, whether humans have free will, whether there is an afterlife, and whether artificial intelligence is attainable any time soon.  This influx of interest, this sudden fire of controversy, has meant a staggering success for Youtube as well as an onslaught of atheist / theist debates.  It has made people rich and has created a kind of thinking republic of the world.  One would think that poetry has cashed in on this, but little seems to have changed.

While it is true that isolated poems like John Hennessy’s “Convenience Store Aquinas,” as published in the March 2015 issue of Poetry Magazine, have begun to address concerns over whether the business of living is an accident, a happy coincidence, a mistake, an emergent property of God, or something there is no word for, I have yet to read more than one or two contemporary poems of vital significance that comment on what any of this existence forebodes.  Yes, all poems are about just that, but few of them tackle the issue in a way that directly confronts the kinds of dialogues that are playing out all over the world.  None of them debates the issue relentlessly and exactly enough.  None contends for more than consolation, at least not to my satisfaction.  Is Richard Dawkins right to suggest  that the universe ultimately has only blind, pitiless indifference to offer us?  What I find to be most curious is that *$200,000,000.00 can’t make a difference.  It has finally been proven that all the money in the world can’t make poetry relevant.  What does this say about human nature?  About poetry?

I’m not suggesting that poetry which moves me to weeping or laughing is anything less than divine.  I’m not implying that consolation is not great in its own terms.  I’m saying that lyric poetry is bigger than any of those things.  In my poem “Such a Bright Future” I begin by saying, “If freedom means anything / it means one thing.  Be free from want / then do what you want.”  Those lines are mere attempts.  Lyric poetry is more than just emotion.  Narrative poetry is more than just story.  I want to see more eternal poems like “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” but I also want to see more poems like “The Man With The Blue Guitar.”  

Thinking for its own sake is thinking for the sake of the world as well.  One promising paradigm might be Metamodernism (http://www.metamodernism.org/).  Though I’m not sure terms need to be defined that neatly.  Whatever the terms and conditions of poetry they need not imitate nature.  There is no need to believe that poetry is subject to entropy.  There is no need to see gravity as the opposite of levity, for that matter.  Some of the best poetry is that in which sanity is called into question: either the sanity of the poet, the sanity of the reader, or the very idea of sanity altogether.  Reconciling opposites—which is one of the major themes of Metamodernism—is important.  So is drawing a fine line between two related things.  Poetry is a kind of logic.  I’ll write my story / so deep in myself / no one will hear it / in my voice.

The end of thinking may be either tragedy or joy.  One may realize in his thinking a zenith or a nadir—but at least he will know where he stands.  This is usually the case.  Thinking clarifies one’s life, but it can only be done within a context.  It can only be managed within a need.  If there is no need there is no need to think.  Poets must bring to mind the need that never alters its course, the star which all the other planets revolve around.  How do I know what I need?  If I’m hungry I need food.  If I’m thirsty I need water.  Poetry cannot live without the one desire we all have in our natural state, which neither dissipates nor dissolves.  Remind the reader of that, but do it in a way that accesses the soul by means of the brain, just as Emily Dickinson did.

I will close by including a poem of mine which was published in Stirring (as “Down Here in Alabama”) 

Late Alabama
An abandoned car
sits on the side of the road
in 1957.  It's Walter's,
but he listens to the moon ascend
showers in India.

The late drum begins its beating.
Cities, shanties, dirt lots,
miles of corn in Elkmont
depart as sand under the foot
of the stratosphere.

Headlights bead
around twilight every day.
They come down from the Cumberlands
with pine in their bulbs.

And tomorrow,
this land will be turned by rust,
by a machine that hitches its own mule,
pinning him between cattle prods.

It will be too late to sow seed then.
The sky will have stopped.

This is the estimated amount of money the Poetry Foundation has acquired and accrued after the Ruth Lily bequest. (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/02/19/the-moneyed-muse)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Comprehension, continued

What is the qualitative difference between comprehending a moral truth and comprehending an empirical fact?  Is there a quantitative difference between the two forms of comprehension?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poem

Signal

I flash a distress signal, my body alert 
and dancing beneath the sky.  I bring strangers
into the fold of my attention.  Long walks
in the woods carry the world—the sad, receding
claim of sight born without intention.
All the trees take root in the rocks.  The only thing
left to love is myself, and I have all night to grow
warm by that fire.  The worry of other evenings
sparkles and shines through my eyes.  Gratitude
gives me over to the new light, the new way
of seeing, where every branch and stump radiates
rain-slicked luster.  The whole world is sick with visions.
I move through its fever, to the caw of a crow.
My black lashes bat.  The hay fields come into focus
and settle everything seen.  I am not the one working
for this dream.  More and more remains to be heard
when I walk through the pasture that was once
a village and a place to come home to.


Joel Fry

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Shame, etc.

I feel shame.  Do you feel pride?

The Good

How does the good change depending on who enjoys it or how it is enjoyed?  How do notions of goodness alter us as we grow?  If we are the origin of goodness how is it that goodness has an objective existence?  Is the external nature of goodness our internal nature?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Comprehension

If I comprehend the mystery is the mystery what I comprehend?  How does comprehension form?  Are there different degrees of comprehension?

How close is the ability to grasp an object to the mental act of comprehending a moral truth?  How exact is that metaphor?

The Good

What is the qualitative difference between the good that is done, the good that is experienced, and the good that is observed?  What is the quantitative difference?

Is the thing that measures the good he who measures it (for he is measured)?

Is this door the right way out but the wrong way in?  Is it the wrong way in but the right way out?  Is it the right way in and the right way out?  Is it the wrong way out and the wrong way in?

At which point does up become down?

Does the good change because it is known?  Can the good change without being known?

Once a good is known how does it alter the knower?  Is this an existential or an ontological question?

Is the way in which knowledge is known altered with the knower?

Tentative refutation of mind-dependent reality

The basis for reality must be something that is self-existent.  Something self-existent must be absolutely simple (not made of component parts)(see "Reincarnation" below).  It must not have, in its original state, been the product of something else.  This is essence (spirit), not consciousness, since consciousness is (originally at least) the product of the brain and is not absolutely simple.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Africa

The Nigerian economy is definitely on the upswing.  The U.S. should seriously consider making an investment in the nation or in another up-and-coming African nation.  Africa is talking about uniting.  This would be huge.  The way in which the United States treats Africa will determine how Africa treats us in the future.

http://www.pmnewsnigeria.com/2017/01/11/china-investing-40-billion-in-nigerian-economy/

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Haunted

The ghost is the dream that picks itself out from among your thoughts and sways to its own rhythm.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Poem


What They Say About Me

A nest egg of dumbasses, a family tree of buffoons,
a melting pot of morons, a swath of crackpots,
a body politic of imbeciles, a cabinet of incurables,
a dark night of peons, a tidal wave of ninnies—

I am the foghorn of a piecemeal mind,
the full parliament of self-deception, the provincial
nomenclature for “hootenanny,” depending
on the day.  I rock myself to sleep with the guinea
fowl.  I scratch my balls incompetently. 
Even my friends don’t want to know.  With only a vestige
of myself thinking, a curl of my hair catching sight,
a generous truism measuring my breath, and a cloud
of smog petrifying the distance, I stand. 
All the forces of the world specialize here.
All the fat men find themselves famished
for a thought of me.  The women fall asleep.
Doctors make specimens of my amusement,
breaking down the doors of selective breeding
to catch a glimpse of something like me.
I have two perfectly good hands.  I am wide-faced
and broad-brimmed, bounding through my brain’s
careful climate.  No one knows a hide-and-seek
spot denser than mine.  My contemplation
is paper thin.  I get nose bleeds sitting still.
If only a warm hand would calm me.  If only
I knew how genius feels to be alone.

Joel Fry

Attachments

I try to transcend my attachments rather than "letting them go."

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Poem

Those Men

I envy in high resolution those men
walking ahead of me in their broad swagger
nursing headaches of insight.  They bear
within themselves the woven wealth of nations,
the braids and the seams of their tireless fingers.  
Lights rest on their foreheads when they go wherever
their goodness leads.  I share their courage
and borrow their strength.  The sun rises
across the world, meeting every need, warming
every wish, illuminating the hope we all
carry within us, that the day will fill our 
minds with its twiggy splendor.  The buddhas 
of the highways and the airports explain
how we should live, as if good enough isn’t.
The men and women of wandering 
forbearance, mostly gone from the mass of us,
still see through our eyes, understanding
our sadness and the long drive to work.
Whatever makes us calls us all to our own 
good sense.  We encourage the part of us
that falls for our greatest desire.


Joel Fry

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Running Amok

The reason so many white people go into shopping malls and shoot 30 people is because they live in a society in which people say, "Hey man, I'll call you," and the call never comes. That kind of insincerity will drive you up the wall. --No, I'm not talking about myself. Life is good.

Seeing, Looking

It is not seeing the world as it is that sickens me but looking for something that isn't there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

For Jorie Graham

I've made myself palpable with my gorgeous swelling before and no one noticed. I made the cliche "no mistake" before and no one cared. If I start to feel hunger I want to return to it. Nope, existence. Did I mention the leaves, so green and golden like a bald-blonde trump of a woman's writs. The world wasn't made for us, you should know. It was made for you and your kind. That's why I listen. That's why I speak. So listen. There are fallen leaves in the clabbered milk. They don't dissolve.

Sye Ten

I'm really into Youtube.  I'm not an atheist, but this is funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No6H30Lvqm4

😧

Revelation

"he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."--Revelation 14:10

This verse kept me alive for two years.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Love

Love is a pleasure that remains a wish. As the longing for love is satisfied the wish for love increases. Love liberates us to grow at times and at times it is a burden, but true love is not a fetter.

Recognition and Artificial Intelligence

Recognition and Artificial Intelligence

Recently Donald D. Hoffman, a cognitive scientist, says he has found evidence that humans do not perceive reality as it is.  He claims that due to evolutionary pressure humans perceive objects and phenomena not as they are in reality but as we have come to see them, in a way that offers us an advantage for survival.  One wonders then—if I see a rock and that rock appears a certain way to me, then I take a picture of the rock, and the image in the photo matches the image of the rock I see with my naked sight, whether I am indeed misperceiving the rock with my own eyes.  Could it be that the same misperception which we use to evaluate three dimensional objects applies in the same way to flat surfaces with images of those same three dimensional images?  (A dog will recognize his ball, but he may not recognize a picture of his ball.)  How does that same misperception apply to paintings, and why is recognition of the objects represented in paintings so often instantaneous? 

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there are two selves: one which finds similarities in the faces of people I meet and one which finds dissimilarities in those faces.  This is, actually, not how the human mind works, but it could be how an artificial mind could work.  In a poem I wrote many years ago I said, “We look for ourselves in a crowd and avoid ourselves in a mirror.”  Perhaps one self finds itself in others and another self finds others within itself.  The discovery of similarities could be my desire, but the discovery of dissimilarities could be another distinct desire.  The similarities and dissimilarities could form a recognition.  Internal harmony could be established or mastered depending on a need for either harmony or disharmony.

How would this be programed into a computer?  If we perceive the world not as it is but as we need it to appear would an artificial intelligence do the same?  And would that intelligence seek similarity or dissimilarity with other intelligent beings?  For that matter it might be better if the evolution of artificial intelligence were not on the same evolutionary trajectory with human evolution, but it seems to me that we are bound to create it in our own image.  This image could be driven either by need or by…what?  What could shape our designing agency other than our own need?

If I’m hungry I need food.  If I’m thirsty I need water.  The rudder of the human ship has become desire rather than environment. Once the need to survive has been satisfied we move on to optimal living, which includes a desire for a high sugar and high fat diet.  If evolution is driving this vehicle it is steering it toward the most basic rewards, or so it would seem.  If I find certain qualities in a person that are agreeable to me I may seek a symbiotic resonance with him and his people to procure what I want.  I seek an escape from myself and a way to further discover myself.  How could these desires be programed into a computer without making the computer a mirror image of ourselves?   


Joel Fry