Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Thought 470: Puritans as Self-Loathers?

I wonder sometimes if those who engage in and identify with puritanical tables of evaluation - e.g. people who accuse others of self-indulgence, laziness, joblessness - are not, to a degree, self-loathing. 

It is quite likely that modern day puritanism, this sense that life is only worthy if constantly striving, producing and seeking to prove itself in conventional terms, is in fact rooted in self-loathing, i.e. in a sense of inadequacy for who or what one is by nature, without such socially recognised tokens of excellence and acceptability as being employed, having a degree or even just lots of money. 

For it has been said,
"Many of the faults you see in others, dear reader, are your own nature reflected in them."
And as I have said before, the majority of the casual reproaches we make of others are often implicitly asking them to be free of flaws or contradiction - in other words, to rise above their humanity. 

Is this reasonable? Or is it not based on a blinding and blind discontent with the crookedness and fallibility of human action and understanding?

For should you choose to judge others, expect to be judged yourself, whether for your person or the fruits, ripe or rotten, you have brought forth into the world. 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Thought 469: Who are Leaders?

It could be argued that true leaders encourage their followers to become their own leaders - if not in word, then by example.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Thought 468: Having Thoughts and Verbalising Them

What marks me out from other thoughtful human beings is that I choose to verbalise my thoughts and share them. Others choose not to. 

The fact I choose to verbalise them may give off the impression I have a superiority complex.

Of course people are entitled to their interpretations, however hostile. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Thought 467: Meaning of Tough Love (Short Version)

"Tough love": allowing consequentialist laws governing behavioural choices teach the lesson rather than verbal advice.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Thought 464: Focus & Sensibility

Your focus determines your reality.

But what determines your focus?

Your sensibility. 

(For more elaboration, see post Knowledge and Sensibility)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Thought 463: Power Over Others (Short Version)

The desire and need for power over others as rooted in a polarity of fear, i.e. weakness.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Thought 462: Showing People the Way

As a messenger journeying up the Mountain of Enlightenment you can only show people the way, not carry them all the way.

This expresses a similar insight to
"You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink."

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Thought 461: Basic Instinct (Short Version)

The basic instinct may indeed be survival.

But that does not mean it is the highest instinct.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Thought 460: Nietzsche's Error

What Nietzsche failed to grasp is that immorality is based in fear, i.e. weakness, not in the strength of love. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Thought 458: Free Will as Acquired (Short Version)

Free will = as I think, so I feel and so I act.

Free will is acquired by aligning our thoughts with our emotions and actions.

It is not innate. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Thought 457: How Others Perceive You

It is always interesting to consider how others perceive you even if their view of you differs from the view you have of yourself. 

As French novelist Marcel Proust noted
"Notre personnalité sociale est une création de la pensée des autres."
(Our social personality is a creation formed by the thoughts others have of us.)

While it could be argued that each is the expert on him or herself, others may perceive our blind spots, i.e. elements of our being we are not consciously aware of.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Thought 456: Cerebral Person

I think it's fair to say I'm a pretty cerebral and introverted person.

Like all personality traits, this has advantages and disadvantages.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Thought 455: Fart Joke

Is silence golden or deadly?

As ever, it depends on context.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Thought 454: Stress & Threat

In fight or flight/stress mode, one interprets threats everywhere.

Prolonged stress is therefore unhealthy. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Thought 451: Reproaching Others

Maybe the majority of the reproaches we make of people are really asking them not to be flawed and contradictory - in other words, not human. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Thought 450: Legitimate and Illegitimate Authority

Legitimate authority is based in consent.

Illegitimate authority is based on coercion. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Thought 449: Mother and Father in Politics

Left-wing - nurturing mother - Welfare State
Right-wing - disciplinarian father - Police State

Monday, 6 February 2017

Thought 448: Lazy and Uninspired

Maybe feeling lazy and uninspired is a way for the subconscious mind to recharge itself.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Thought 447: Intelligence as Good or Bad?

Is intelligence, the ability to understand, overrated or underrated and by whom?

Maybe it's just one of those things that pops up here and there, whether for good or for ill. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Thought 446: Hatred

It has been said that
"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you aren't."
Yet life sometimes presents a third scenario according to which one is hated for who or what one isn't, e.g. through caricatural character assassinations and inaccurate judgements and jibes at one's person based in the self-loathing of the fearful ignorant. 

And indeed a fourth scenario presents itself in being loved for who/what one is, which is of course the most pleasant outcome of the four and the ideal basis for friendship and romantic union. 

Friday, 3 February 2017

Thought 445: The More You Know the Less You Think You Know

If my experience is anything to go by, I would say that the more you know, the less you think you know. 

Put differently, as one gains in knowledge, and therefore in a variety of angles on topics, one finds that competing interpretations cancel each other out, that opinions, however informed, will likely be overcome in time or even proved wrong, that definite knowledge on many matters, especially of a historical, philosophical or esoteric nature, is impossible to acquire for certain, that the acquisition of knowledge itself depends on linguistic, intellectual and symbolic representations which themselves are prey to the limitations of reason and are by nature a handy simplification, not to say falsification, of reality. 

Socrates was wisest among the Greeks for the simple reason, as he himself claimed, that he did not think he knew when he did not know, i.e. that in openly admitting he knew nothing he was wiser than those 'experts' who thought they knew something, when in fact their knowledge did not bear deep scrutiny, revealing itself to be flimsy and incoherent. 

Of course this is not to say that knowledge does not exist at all, for information that is critically evaluated, and not information itself, is how knowledge comes about but this still does not tell us what knowledge is. 

As ever, pet if controversial philosopher of mine, Martin Heidegger, was perhaps onto something when he stated in his Introduction to Metaphysics that to know is the ability to learn, or rather, to know is to be of such a resolute and disciplined mindset as to be able to learn on a sustained and repeated basis. 

Knowledge in this case would seem to amount to lifetime learning and learning always involves an element of unlearning false beliefs and misinformation. From a more conspiratorial angle, one could argue that to know is to unlearn mind control in the form of, among others, institutionalised belief systems that are artificial, inauthentic and contrary to natural law.  

These points bring me back to a concept I devised in my first blog post on ScruffyOwlet's Tree: conscience. Taken literally and morphologically 'con' (the Latin prefix meaning 'with') and 'science' (from the Latin verb scio, sciere, to know) amount to 'with knowledge' and by liberal extension 'the knowledge of your knowledge'. 

It is through the exercise of one's con-science, one's knowledge of knowledge, usefully systematised in the science of epistemology, that one finds the truth in the proposition that the more one knows, the less one thinks one's knows and therefore the less one seeks to impose beliefs, i.e. things one holds to be true, onto others. 

Much rather than convincing others of certain beliefs, the aim of enlightened teachers should be to help their students raise their consciousness - and therefore their conscience - so as to be able to better discern truth from falsehood and therefore more effectively avoid negative consequences for themselves and others. For thoughts, emotions and actions based in and induced by falsehood, not to say inner division and duality, can and usually do lead to pain and suffering. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Thought 444: The Superficiality of Normality

Three of my big bug bears in life are the trio of
  • conformity
  • norm-ality
  • superficiality
The word convention comes from the Latin cum venire meaning 'to come together'. In other words where there is a coming together of human beings conventions will arise. 

It would be superficial to take issue with convention for its own sake, it being obviously necessary for human society to function on a basic level, but I do have an aversion to the ethos of conformity, which entails making oneself fit the shapes of social convention arising from quarters other than oneself. 

The main reason I am an anti-conformist by temperament is the extent to which I resent the superficiality of conventional/normal preference, its lack of reflection or critical thinking, its mimicking what others choose to do, its safe and predictable judgements on the worthiness of individuals as measured in terms of financial and hierarchical success, its invariable lack of taste and, most of all, its lack of imagination.

All these aspects of conformity can be gleaned 24/7 from that most conformist of mind control paraphernalia: mainstream television. 

Mark Passio from whatonearthishappening.com is an anti-conformist seeing the majority of social normative practices as so many instances of what he calls mass mind control including the trappings of the monetary system. 

For my part I have often wondered whether the most potent divide within the human population is not one between professional conformists, i.e. people who identify with and seek to realise themselves within the confines of normative social practice and belief, and vocational misfits, i.e. those who, whether by choice or not, realise themselves outside preferred conventional routes and means of evaluation. 

Great authors like Balzac and Dickens shed a critical literary eye on the inanity, cruelty and ruthlessness of conventional social functioning, both on a nationwide level as well as on the micro-scale of, say, an aristocratic social gathering. 

In any case my preferred pastures are those at the margins of the overgrazed fields of the οἱ πολλοί, particularly those of the moneyed, superficial and unimaginative so-called upper echelons of society, as well reflected in the characters of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Review 10: Ivo Pogorelich Plays Chopin's Preludes

Chopin in Arresting Definition - A review of Frédéric Chopin's Preludes as performed and recorded by Ivo Pogorelich

Prior to purchasing this album I had some familiarity with Pollini and Argerich's established takes as well as that of Rafal Blechacz available in the Deutsche Grammophon Complete Chopin Edition. 

I looked to new pastures for the simple reason that I was unhappy with these three performances. The Pollini recording's main fault is that the volume is too low and the sound quality in my opinion leaves something to be desired. 

I never enjoyed Argerich's Preludes as I found the tempi too quick and that, partly as a result, the playing lacked definition and clarity of intent.

Rafal Blechacz's interpretation is solid and faithful but lacks transcendental value, being of a prosaic nature. 

So having searched for the Chopin Preludes on Amazon I came across this album and I was convinced this was my set the moment I sampled the sheer originality and pianistic definition of the first prelude in C major (my favourite).

And from there on out the album never lets up. The most adequate adjective to describe this cycle is that it is arresting, i.e., attention catching. 

This underrated quality is partly due to the high pianistic definition of each prelude obtained through minimal use of the pedal, extremely dexterous finger work and tempi that for me do each prelude aural justice.

Moreover, this is the first time that I've enjoyed listening to op.28 as a whole rather than as a collection of disparate pieces, rather like Gould's 1981 take of Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Again, as so often, I part company with the fogeys chez Gramophone who claim that the tempi in the more ponderous preludes are too slow, e.g. in the case of 'Raindrop'.

They also make the case that Pogorelich is trying to be original for its own sake, betraying Chopin in the process.

What nonsense! It is precisely the originality and deliberate tempi that made this work op.28 in its entirely finally grab my full attention and musical imagination whereas prior to this set I just could not get into the whole 24 piece work as a whole and as a unit. 

Now it may be true that Pogo, as he is sometimes called, did not always succeed in his interpretations in other recordings but in the case of these Preludes he nails them with commanding artistic and technical authority. 

I never thought there'd be a day I'd enjoy Chopin as much as this, being more persuaded by Baroque and Classical composers like Bach, Scarlatti and Haydn. 

I was wrong. Chopin has come to reveal his greatness at long last, after years of trying but failing, thanks to Pogorelich's arresting interpretative performance.

I cannot praise this recording more than that.