Philosophy


Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

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Carpenters-song-bmw

My father died on October 25, 2015 at 1:25 a.m. – Age 76 years and 23 days as the calendar counts. My thoughts go back to the death of my mother in 2007, which I wrote about in Exploring Death and Dying. These things still apply, but I don’t know what to say having lost both my mother and father now. He faced his health issues over the last decade or more with courage, but also acceptance of what faced him. In the end he faced death with the same attitude he faced life, as he thought best. Death came quickly for him, advancing in just short time, and he was awake and aware until shortly before he died in the company of his wife for some 35+ years. She told me a story of his brave last hours knowing he was dying, but not suffering. That’s my father, and I would have expected nothing less than going out the way he wanted to. Even going so far as telling the doctors to go away, stop checking, and let him die in peace. That’s my father! The headline image of this blog is a poem I wrote for my father in 2002 about his craftsmanship as a carpenter, and it echoes his passing now too.

Farewell My Father, and if there is an afterlife, may you build in new and interesting ethereal ways… I have some photos of me and my Dad over the years to offer and a video slide show of a particular Baseball reunion with my father and his two sons in 2007. Baseball has played a role in our lives over the years as long lamenting Red Sox fans, but in the recent decade or so have been victorious 3 times over. I’m glad my Dad got to see that in his lifetime and hope in the end he was somewhat proud of his sons, and his daughter too. We are all proud of him in our own way and maybe it can be said that if a man does the best he can, he has achieved all that he can be. That’s something to celebrate and to remember…

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A Family (big brother, father, mother and me) – 1963

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Father & Son – 1965

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Father & Son – 1967

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Father & Son – 1969

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Father & Son (with little sister on the right) – 1980

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Father & Son – 1989

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Father & Son 2002

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Father & Son – 2007

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Father & Son – 2010

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Father & Son (With my daughter Jennifer in between) – 2014

 

Father and Son Reunion at Fenway Park in Boston – A slideshow my brother and I put together a day or two after the event in 2007.

My father and I would sometimes discuss poetry, and the last one we talked about was “Good Hours” by Robert Frost and it’s a good one to end on, or continue on…

Good Hours

I had for my winter evening walk—
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.

~ Robert Frost

Logic-emotionI was listening to a program on NPR called Radio Lab and it was one I had heard before a few years ago, but had forgotten about. It was a program about choices and how logic and reason don’t always figure into the equation. The program itself was called Choice (Season 5, Episode 1) and one story in this program caught my attention again as it did some years before. The story I refer to is called Overcome by Emotion and tells the tale of a man who, after an operation to remove a tumor from his brain, lost all his emotions as a result. One immediately thinks of Mr. Spock and a quick fix to Vulcan rationalism, but apparently the end result was that this man had difficulty making any decisions at all. Turns out, this case was something important in a link that our emotions play a larger part in decision making than previously thought. Our choices, it seems, are guided by emotions, and not just pure reason. They work in tandem (emotion and logic) to give us a basis of what is best in choice. Before you make the conclusion that Humans have it better than Vulcans, remember that Vulcans have emotions too, but suppress them by training their minds. They are not emotionless, but find that suppressing the emotions allows the logic to be a dominant behavior. This got me to wondering, what happens to humans who suppress their emotions? It’s a complicated question I think. I can see that without emotional influence, rational behavior results, but making choices becomes more difficult. Choices, as we all know, often involve an emotional element and are seldom black & white logical.

spock's-brain

If I am never happy or sad, love or hate, content or frustrated, then what basis do I have for what is the right decision in any given circumstance? This is different from Vulcans, who know emotions, but choose (mind over matter) to suppress them. What would the total absence of emotion really  do? Again, I make another Star Trek analogy and mention the Borg. They are mostly a machine mind, though composed of a collective – various species assimilated into a hive mind. The Borg do encounter problems with decisions, and when confronted by something not understood, they spend all their resources to resolve it and neglect everything else in the process no matter how long it takes. This is getting closer to an understanding maybe. Of course Vulcans and the Borg are fictional beings, but ones that we can extrapolate from our own being to understand emotion, logic and reason. Is there an example in nature, something more primal than us, that we can look to. Perhaps the bacteria and virus are biological primal forms that have no emotion or logic. They are pure programming (with some logic) and serve one function.  Through random mutation they survive to live another day. What, then, is in between these primitive forms and animal life (humans included)? I am not sure, but emotions evolved in the higher species for a particular purpose maybe – that being the ability to adapt to an environment without waiting for a mutation, but to do it freelance style, so to speak. How would this be accomplished? The answer must be by incorporating emotion!

Logic is good to a point, incorporate emotion in time, and there is reason. All the higher animals function this way. When there is too much logic, or too much emotion, the reasoning goes astray. The balance must be kept in some harmony. Logic and emotion confront to make the best of reason – the best choices in fact. The really difficult aspect of it all is how difficult it is to judge whether another person is too logical or too emotional, because we ourselves are subject to the same conditions under examination. It’s like the brain trying to examine itself in an impartial way – it can not be done! So, what’s the ‘take away’ from all this and what can we learn from it? I may be wrong, and disagree with me if you have a conviction, but the brain is a biological mechanism. Inside that mechanism is a complex network of complexity that affords us a logical and emotional side. If we use one or the other too much we are not using our full capacity to combine them in ways they were meant for – that is, to reason! Perhaps that is the fundamental nature of what is wrong with humanity, why we struggle so with one another in love, war, race, ethnicity, nationality. Maybe humans are a species that came to their prime before their time – or maybe that prime time has yet to come. I won’t see it in my lifetime and maybe it won’t be see in humans for 50 thousand years if man survives that long.

Perhaps we face a Planet of the Apes scenario in the future. Maybe it’s not apes, but another species rising. Or it could be like in the song: “In the Year 2525” (1969) by Zagar & Evans.

Our own emotion, logic and reason will play a role in the ultimate understanding of these 3 things that make us who we are, how they are balanced, and our destination. It’s not politics (yesterday, today, or tomorrow) which is basically meaningless, and it’s not money (yesterday’s gold & silver, or today’s paper & plastic), nor is it science (whatever the current understanding is), and I believe it will be philosophy that ultimately makes the decision – it’s the only thing that makes sense. USA, USSR, OPEC, NATO, Christian, Islam, Buddhist, Black, white, yellow, green or purple – it’s all so divisive it seems! Man must find a philosophy all people can embrace. Maybe then he will make a paradise of this Earth. I’d like to see that day come, but if it’s not meant to be then I don’t lament my own death because it’s a future I don’t necessarily wish to see if there is no hope for change. Emotion, Logic, Reason – humanity’s gift, I hope, is not squandered, ultimately, in the destiny of man.

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

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Loose-endsThe definition of ‘Loose Ends’ is given as: A part of something that has not been completed. In life we all have those things that are or were a part of us, but remain uncompleted. What satisfies understanding at least in the end of such things? In other words, what does it take to feel something is completed and there are no ‘Loose Ends’ left over? If it is a personal issue, I can say that all it takes is some communication. Silence can do a great deal of harm on its own over time, but a silence can be broken for making those ‘Loose Ends’ in life seem to fit together better. This is perhaps a thought of advancing years, when the days of youth are well behind, and there is a desire to feel centered, without the unresolved past to disturb that balance. The nature of a person is to guard the self – never mind the altruistic visions of love and giving yourself to another person. The women I have known in my life, without exception, chose self over love in the end. I don’t blame them – it’s a rational choice to believe in head over heart! This is, however, where ‘Loose Ends’ enter and caused by disparity between head and heart. It can be from a relationship, a job, a social occasion, and any other number of human interaction. My philosophical premise is that ‘Loose Ends’ come from head vs heart in human interaction.

We all have stores to tell, and I will tell some here:

1.) I knew a woman who did not want to leave her family and familiar surroundings to take a chance in life. We had a daughter together, and were divided to what was best. She chose her way and I chose mine. In time all the ‘Loose Ends’ were tied together because we communicated and had our daughter to take care of together, even though separate.

2.) I knew a woman who was in some conflict with her home life. I tried to get to know her, but pushed a bit too much maybe, and she pushed me away. That was lost long ago, but there was resolution to that ‘Loose End’  when she told me the whole story many years later. We communicated and brought our interactions to some understanding.

3.) I knew a woman who did not know whether she wanted to live or die, but took a chance on living. We were together for 10 years and I thought she loved me, but today I do not know if she ever did. I won’t speak on the details, but there were odd happenings at the end, and they were never explained to me. There was no communication to understand.

4.) I knew a woman who had issues with me, and was not afraid to speak of them. I appreciated this initially, but when it went on and on, one thing after another, I kept a distance always between us. We were together, but apart for 5 years. There was misunderstanding and pain in the end. We communicated a few years later and sought clarity with each other, to some success.

Well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, but I should say that #1 was a constant communication, as it involved our daughter. In regards to #2, it didn’t happen until some 20 years later, so better late than never rings true and I am glad for that. She contacted me to discuss it, and that was meaningful. We are friends now. For #3 I am totally baffled. I have not talked to her for 10 years, but reached out to her a couple years ago. There was no response, so with no communication there can never be understanding. In selfish ways, I always felt she owed me an explanation on the odd happenings,  and all I did or tried to do for her in love and devotion. Some people just are not capable of facing the past and prefer to live as if some part of their life never happened. I can not judge and only say there are ‘Loose Ends’ there because there was no communication then or 10 years later now. This brings me to #4, which I have already written extensively about in this blog. I appreciate she reached out to me and wanted to have closure and tie up those ‘Loose Ends’. I think she has anger issues and she thinks I may have Asperger  Syndrome, albeit a mild form, but we can agree to disagree or consider what is inside us that needs to be thought about.

My examples and explanation here all deal with my relationships with women. In my life I have much of what I want or desired, not through any random luck, some with perseverance and belief in my abilities. In the ways of love & relationships I am perhaps a failure and it is the focal point for my ‘Loose Ends’ to tie them up. I have done so for the most part and feel happy for that. One is missing (#3) and I guess I just wish I knew the odd happenings that led to the end. The last time I saw her,  I hardly recognized her, and that memory stays with me to this day. Sometime the ‘Loose Ends’ have very long threads indeed. As I said, I have 3 out of 4 and that should be enough, but I was hoping for 4 out of 4 to say:

But thanks
For your time
Then you can thank me for mine
And after that’s said
Forget it!
If there was a word
But Magic’s absurd
I’d make one dream come true
It didn’t work out
But don’t ever doubt
How I felt about you

It a total perspective, the ‘Loose Ends’ in life do affect us in time and over time, and with communication they can become threads in the tapestry of life to make a story of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. I might maintain that some ‘Loose Ends’ may be good for us in the short term because they provoke thought, but in the long term, provoke a manifestly profound alteration of ones psyche. There is this quote usually attributed to Anain Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe that’s what ‘Loose Ends’ tell us, more about the way we are than the way things are..

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La Rose (Dream) – Salvador Dali

Dreams – they are the kind you can have when sleeping, but also the kind you have in life at looking to the future. It can be difficult to differentiate them sometimes as they spill over into each other, and I won’t limit the discussion here to one or the other, but favor the later. I always feel I have two lives, one lived in sleep and the other while awake, but they are intertwined in ways that make them mutually complimentary. On the whole, I think dreams are a good thing to have in life because they provide some positive outlook and a glimpse of the possible future ahead. They are, in essence, parts of ourselves yet undiscovered or unrealized. One of my favorite books in the bible is Ecclesiastes, as it is a philosophical chapter, and often invokes one to think a great deal about life. I also find it a source of great wisdom, religious aspects aside. Anyway, in there it says, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words” ~ (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

As most biblical verses, such things are generally about behavior towards God, but I see it also as reflection on achieving dreams. A dream does not come of itself usually, but requires effort to achieve. Simply speaking about it will not cause it to be, and is just the voice of a fool to think so. Just like in life, however, we don’t always get what we want or wish for, and dreams don’t always come true, or at least in the way we envisioned them. This is part of the reality of life. Oftentimes it may not be for lack of effort to achieve a dream, but a sequence of events that come together at the right time, sometimes even involving luck, that brings a dream to fruition. This is my feeling and it may be true that, “Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849).

Just some food for thought here. Of course, the solitary dream mostly reflects our inner self, but when dreams are shared they have the power to transmit a vision outwardly to others. I end with an inspiration from Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist of the 20th century:

The_Right_to_Dream

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Xietong – Great Wall at Juyongguan

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Xietong – Anlan Bridge at Dujiangyan


“Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.” 
~ Homer

I have a  fiancé in China and her name is Xietong (or Tong Xie in English). The circumstances of how Tong and I met are as follows: My good friend of many years in the USA (Gang Lei) had a good friend of many years in China (Ping Li) who had a friend (Ning Zhu) that knew Tong. So, we were introduced to each other and communicated in email for a couple of years until I finally came to China to visit Tong in her home city of Chengdu, but also visited Beijing together in travel ways. It was a splendid trip, and she definitely was the person I got to know in email, and then some… In sharing the time in person together, we made that bond a reality. Returning home to the USA, I didn’t wait long before before suggesting she come to the USA on a fiancé visa. Well, engaged in email maybe, but no sense waiting. We are right for each other I think and I’m ‘All In’ so to speak. I’ve come to believe two years is about all it should take to make a plan for a future together in Looking Forward with someone.

I remember sharing a song with Tong before we met called “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard & Marja Tuhkanen from the film “Once” (2006). When I visited Tong in China she told me she listened to it every night before bed. That is very sweet, and maybe is Our Song now, something in shared experience and sentiment towards each other for the meaning it has for us. We have some work ahead in Looking Forward, and some forms to fill in government bureaucracy in achieving a visa for Tong to come to the USA with me, but together we will see it through and find some happiness together. It’s a learning process for me in discovering all the ways a government can complicate two people just wanting to be together. Well, governments are mostly paranoid institutions and spy on each while making other nefarious and/or covert plans to gain political advantage in some pointless power struggle. So, they complicate life for everyone in this way. Most people just want basic things like shelter, family, love, rewarding work, and to enjoy life. This is my discovery in traveling the world, but one has to swim this sea of government silliness to secure any satisfaction. I don’t want to get started on this topic…

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Xietong and Me in Chengdu

So this is part of my life at present and I think I found a ‘Real Love’. It is just a matter of time now and there will be good developments for 2014 in Looking Forward for Tong and me. The opening lyrics of the Bob Seger song “The Real Love” says it all:

I think I’ve found The Real Love
Genuine and true
I think it’s really come my way today babe
I think it’s really you

I remember moments looking in your eyes
Could have sworn I saw the spark of love babe
Flickering inside

I’ve been around and round this track
And the only thing I lack
Is The Real Love

I found the only thing I lack now, The Real Love, and it’s just a matter of government boundaries I suppose and swimming the red tape sea. That’s the way of the world and government institutions. Eventually people become free to be people…

Travel blog link: China – Beijing, Chengdu & Beyond (Nov 10-22, 2013)

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” ~ Steve Jobs

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