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Or Kill Me.
Techmology and Scientism / Science & Religion
May 25, 2009, 03:02:13 PM
The following are some of Albert Einstein's writings on Science & Religion.

Please note:  Some of his writings are what some may consider long.  Although who really gives a flying fuck about short attention spans?  Save your breath.

QuoteA child in the sixth grade in a Sunday School in New York City, with the encouragement of her teacher, wrote to Einstein in Princeton on 19 January I936 asking him whether scientists pray, and if so what they pray for. Einstein replied as follows on 24 January 1936:

I have tried to respond to your question as simply as I could. Here is my answer.

Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being.

However, it must be admitted that our actual knowledge of these laws is only imperfect and fragmentary, so that, actually, the belief in the existence of basic all-embracing laws in Nature also rests on a sort of faith. All the same this faith has been largely justified so far by the success of scientific research.

But, on the other hand, every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe -- a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

It is worth mentioning that this letter was written a decade after the advent of Heisenberg's principle of indeterminacy and the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics with its denial of strict determinism.

QuoteThe next excerpt is a letter written by Einstein in response to a 19-year-old Rutger's University student, who had written to Einstein of his despair at seeing no visible purpose to life and no help from religion.

In responding to this poignant cry for help, Einstein offered no easy solace, and this very fact must have heartened the student and lightened the lonely burden of his doubts. Here is Einstein's response. It was written in English and sent from Princeton on 3 December 1950, within days of receiving the letter:

I was impressed by the earnestness of your struggle to find a purpose for the life of the individual and of mankind as a whole. In my opinion there can be no reasonable answer if the question is put this way. If we speak of the purpose and goal of an action we mean simply the question: which kind of desire should we fulfill by the action or its consequences or which undesired consequences should be prevented? We can, of course, also speak in a clear way of the goal of an action from the standpoint of a community to which the individual belongs. In such cases the goal of the action has also to do at least indirectly with fulfillment of desires of the individuals which constitute a society.

If you ask for the purpose or goal of society as a whole or of an individual taken as a whole the question loses its meaning. This is, of course, even more so if you ask the purpose or meaning of nature in general. For in those cases it seems quite arbitrary if not unreasonable to assume somebody whose desires are connected with the happenings.

Nevertheless we all feel that it is indeed very reasonable and important to ask ourselves how we should try to conduct our lives. The answer is, in my opinion: satisfaction of the desires and needs of all, as far as this can be achieved, and achievement of harmony and beauty in the human relationships. This presupposes a good deal of conscious thought and of self-education. It is undeniable that the enlightened Greeks and the old Oriental sages had achieved a higher level in this all-important field than what is alive in our schools and universities.
Literate Chaotic / Aesop's Fables or Aesopica
May 16, 2009, 01:45:20 PM
Aesop's Fables or Aesopica

Very little is known with certainty about the man called Aesop (6th century BC), but several accounts & many traditions survive from antiquity.  According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Aesop was a slave on the island of Samos.  He gained great fame from his fables, but he somehow met his death at the hands of the people of Delphi.  The later historian Plutarch claims the Delphians hurled the author to his death from a cliff as a punishment for sacrilege.  According to a less reliable source, Aesop was an ugly & misshapen man who charmed & amused people with his stories.  No one knows if Aesop himself wrote down any of his fables, but they circulated widely in ancient Greece & were praised by Plato, Aristotle, & numerous other authors.  His short & witty tales with their incisive morals influenced innumerable later writers.  For two & a half millennia Aesop's fables have maintained constant popularity.

The Fox & the Grapes, 6th century BC

A hungry fox saw some fine bunches of grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis, & did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air.  But it was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying, & walked away with an air of dignity & unconcern, remarking, "I thought those grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour."

-above translation from Literature, An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry & Drama by X.J. Kennedy & Dana Gioia, 2005
QuoteAn ideology is a set of aims and ideas, especially in politics. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare Weltanschauung), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

... Psychological research[5] increasingly suggests that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. Research in 2008[5] proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to understand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships. The authors conclude that such motives may lead disproportionately to the adoption of system-justifying worldviews. Psychologists have generally found that personality traits, individual difference variables, needs, and ideological beliefs seem to have a common thread. For instance, a meta-analysis by Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway in 2003 analyzed 88 studies from 12 countries, with over 22,000 subjects, and found that death anxiety, intolerance of ambiguity, lack of openness to experience, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, need for personal structure, and threat of loss of position or self-esteem all contribute to the degree of one's overall political conservatism.[6] The researchers suggest that these results show that political conservatives stress resistance to change and are motivated by needs that are aimed at reducing threat and uncertainty. According to Robert Altemeyer and other researchers, individuals that are politically conservative tend to rank high on Right-Wing Authoritarianism, as measured by Altemeyer's RWA scale.[7] Psychologist Felicia Pratto and her colleagues have found evidence to support the idea that a high Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is strongly correlated with conservative political views.

An ideology can be thought of as a way of looking at things?  Hhhmmm fr'instance I enjoy taking photographs.  In order to accomplish what I set out to do, I frame the picture.  Looking thru the lens & immediately making several decisions.  Horizontal or vertical?  Up close or from a distance?  What do I want to include in the frame?  Speed of the action I want to capture?  Just a few things I consider before ... I click the shutter, freeze that moment in time, never able to return except maybe thru memory or imagination.

Also acknowledging there are so many more things one could say about this simple task.  Right from the start tho, there are certain things I take for granted (an ideology of sorts?).  Big one is, try as I may, I can't duplicate what I see mainly because there are things that exist outside the frame.  Easily seen when I look away from the lens (or frame).  Can't capture the (many) things I see beyond the frame tho.  Admittedly accepting this limitation, I move on & take the picture.  Similarly with other types of frameworks.  It becomes necessary to accept there are things not captured within your carefully controlled frame or vision.  In order to play, you accept the limits.  Some of the nicest visions I've ever had or seen, I'm unable to duplicate & remembrance exists within my mind & maybe nowhere else.  Who can understand these things?  Not me that's for sure.

Tolerance of ambiguity?  Sometimes there seems to be a certain OCD quality to experience, like a "control freak" facet?  People may use an inaccurate or inelegant word for another framework, ideology or system of thought.  Or they may develop rituals or even magical thinking to complete or justify the various frameworks.  All these different frames & not a one capturing the whole or using some sort of universal language to even describe (perhaps the same phenomenon).  There are, after all, so many different ways of seeing.  Sometimes people want to be certain or sure (intolerance of ambiguity?) & therefore never have to even think about these things (shades of thoughtcrime?).  Granted, some of these frames may be comforting especially to a certain type of mind.  & who doesn't want to control at least one tiny aspect of their existence?  Sadly, most times even that is an illusion.  A comforting illusion but an illusion all the same.  "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy ..." or, more succinctly, "Hell is other people."  Or whattabout some kind of unified field of experience?  Nice try but no dice.  The more you notice the structure or organization within the frame, the more you realize everything outside the frame is chaos.  & what's wrong with a little (or a lotta) chaos?  "All we are saying ... is give chaos a chance?"  ah ha ha (shades of hippyspeak)  I enjoy taking photographs.  I also find joy in stepping back into the world of a million frames & appreciating the freedom of uncertainty.  Beauty is in both.

Robert Altemeyer has an interesting theory about Authoritarian Followers.   According to this theory, tolerance of ambiguity is one of the variables measured & seems to be correlated to political conservatism.  He developed a scale to measure if anyone is interested in taking a look.  The scale is included in the first few pages:
The discovery of 2003 UB313 Eris, the 10th planet largest known dwarf planet

"Eris, the largest dwarf planet known, was discovered in an ongoing survey at Palomar Observatory's Samuel Oschin telescope by astronomers Mike Brown (Caltech), Chad Trujillo (Gemini Observatory), and David Rabinowitz (Yale University).  We officially suggested the name on 6 September 2006, and it was accepted and announced on 13 September 2006. In Greek mythology, Eris is the goddess of  warfare and strife. She stirs up jealousy and envy to cause fighting and anger among men. At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the parents of the Greek hero Achilles, all the gods with the exception of Eris were invited, and, enraged at her exclusion, she spitefully caused a quarrel among the goddesses that led to the Trojan war. 

In the astronomical world, Eris stirred up a great deal of trouble among the international astronomical community when the question of its proper designation led to a raucous meeting of the IAU in Prague. At the end of the conference, IAU members voted to demote Pluto and Eris to dwarf-planet status, leaving the solar system with only eight planets."

(You guys probably know all about this but I just came across this site & thought it was interesting - also has some pix & a bit of the story & timeline behind.  Reads a little like modern day mythology I thought what with yet another snub & the demotion.  Mike Brown is the guy from Caltech credited with the find.)
Posted elsewhere here:
Quote from: Antonymous on December 27, 2008, 09:11:15 PM
What?  Morality is "programming."  (though we shouldn't stretch that metaphor of the brain as a computer too thin)

Also note the difference between immorality and amorality.

This made me go back to the book, Lila, An Inquiry into Morals by Robert Pirsig (also the author of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).  In the beginning of the book he quotes John Von Neumann, "who said, "the single thing that makes a computer so powerful is that the program IS data & can be treated like any other data."  That seemed a little obscure when Phaedrus had read it but now it was making sense."

He then goes on throughout the book, & interspersed with various story lines and back & forth to come up with his Metaphysics of Quality:

Quote"Phaedrus had once called metaphysics "the high country of the mind" – an analogy to the "high country" of mountain climbing.  It takes a lot of effort to get there & more effort when you arrive, but unless you can make the journey you are confined to one valley of thought all your life.  This high country passage through the Metaphysics of Quality allowed entry to another valley of thought in which the facts of life get a much richer interpretation.  The valley spreads out into a huge fertile plain of understanding. 

In this plain of understanding static patterns of value are divided into 4 systems:  inorganic patterns, biological patterns, social patterns & intellectual patterns.  They are exhaustive.  That's all there are.  If you construct an encyclopedia of 4 topics – Inorganic, Biological, Social & Intellectual – nothing is left out.  No "thing," that is.  Only Dynamic Quality, which cannot be described in any encyclopedia, is absent.

But although the 4 systems are exhaustive they are not exclusive.  They all operate at the same time & in ways that are almost independent of each other.

This classification of patterns is not very original, but the Metaphysics of Quality allows an assertion about them that is unusual.  It says they are not continuous.  They are discrete.  They have little to do with one another.  Although each higher level is built on a lower one it is not an extension of that lower level.  Quite the contrary.  The higher level can often be seen to be in opposition to the lower level, dominating it, controlling it where possible for its own purposes. 

This observation is impossible in a substance-dominated metaphysics where everything has to be an extension of matter.  But now atoms & molecules are just 1 of 4 levels of static patterns of quality & there is no intellectual requirement that any level dominate the other 3.

An excellent analogy to the independence of the levels, Phaedrus thought, is the relation of hardware to software in a computer.  ...

He makes an excellent analogy here about hardware vs. software but I'm getting tired of typing.  & some get a wee bit annoyed by metaphysics.  (also makes other analogies throughout the book that work for me too like the platypus & other stuff about carbon based life)  Ah well.

"do you like my hat?"
"no I do not like your hat.  Goodbye."
-Dr. Seuss
The Books of Bokonon

Edited by Eugene Wallingford
Editor's Introduction

In Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., created a new religion, Bokononism. The holy scripture of Bokononism was the ever-growing "Books of Bokonon", written by Bokonon -- a British Episcopalian Negro from the island of Tobago whose real name was Lionel Boyd Johnson [ 48 ] -- as a way to distract the people of San Lorenzo from their pitiful lives. What is sacred to Bokononists? Not God; just one thing: man. [ 94 ]

All material contained below was written by Kurt Vonnegut and scattered throughout Cat's Cradle wherever it best suited the novel. I have merely tabulated -- as best I could -- his snippets into an order that one might find in a real copy of the Books of Bokonon. I have also tried to cross-reference these snippets to the numbered sections of the novel, where you may read of scripture in the context of Vonnegut's story.
Index to The Books of Bokonon

* The Books
o The First Book
o The Sixth Book
o The Seventh Book
o The Fourteenth Book

* The Calypsos
* The Autobiographical Section
* Unreferenced Verses and Stories
* The Final Sentence of The Books of Bokonon

* Dictionary of Terms
* Also by Bokonon

The First Book

Warning from title page: Don't be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!
[ 118 ]

Verse 1: All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies. [ 4 ]

Verses 2-4 (?): In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away. [ 118 ]

Verse 5: Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy. [ frontispiece ]

The Sixth Book

[ This book "is devoted to pain, in particular to tortures inflicted by men on men". [ 118 ] ]

If I am ever put to death on the hook, expect a very human performance.

In any case, there's bound to be much crying.
But the oubliette alone will let you think while dying.

The Seventh Book: Bokonon's Republic

[ "...a whole book about Utopias". [ 126 ] ]

The hand that stocks the drug stores rules the world.

Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores, a chain of grocery stores, a chain of gas chambers, and a national game. After that we can write our Constitution.

The Fourteenth Book

[ A short book with a long title. [ 110 ] ]

Title: What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?

Only verse: Nothing.

The Calypsos

On Dynamic Tension [ 47 ]

"Papa" Monzano, he's so very bad
But without bad "Papa" I would be so sad;
Because without "Papa's" badness,
Tell me, if you would,
How could wicked old Bokonon
Ever, ever look good?

On the Natives of San Lorenzo: [ 56 ]

Oh, a very sorry people, yes,
Did I find here.
Oh, they had no music,
And they had no beer.
And, oh, everywhere
Where they tried to perch
Belonged to Castle Sugar, Incorporated,
Or the Catholic church.

On the creation of Bokononism: [ 58 ]

I wanted all things
To seem to make some sense,
So we could all be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
So that they all fit nice,
And I made this sad world
A par-a-dise.

On the end of the world: [ 119 ]

Someday, someday, this crazy world will have to end,
And our God will take things back that He to us did lend.
And if, on that sad day, you want to scold our God,
Why just go ahead and scold Him. He'll just smile and nod.

The Boko-maru Calypso [ 72 ]

We will touch our feet, yes,
Yes, for all we're worth,
And we will love each other, yes,
Yes, like we love our Mother Earth.

The Fourteenth Calypso [ 48 ]

When I was young
I was so gay and mean,
And I drank and chased the girls
Just like young St. Augustine.
Saint Augustine,
He got to be a saint.
So, if I get to be one, also,
Please. Mama, don't you faint.

The Fifty-third Calypso [ 2 ]

Oh, a sleeping drunkard
Up in Central Park,
And a lion-hunter
In the jungle dark,
And a Chinese dentist,
And a British queen--
All fit together
In the same machine.
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice--
So many different people
In the same device.

The Hundred-and-nineteenth Calypso [ 102 ]

"Where's my good old gang done gone?"
I heard a man say.
I whispered in that sad man's ear,
"Your gang's done gone away."

From the Autobiographical Section

A parable on the folly of pretending to discover, to understand [ 3 ]

I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.

And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things."

"Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand."

She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.

She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he can see what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].

Unreferenced Verses and Stories

Referring to one's karass:

Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass. [ 2 ]

If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons that person may be a member of your karass. [ 2 ]

Likes and dislikes have nothing to do with it. [ 9 ]

Referring to inevitability:

As it was meant to happen... [ 10 ]

Referring to the wampeter:

No karass is without a wampeter, just as no wheel is without a hub. [ 24 ]

Around and around and around we spin,
with feet of lead and wings of tin... [ 24 ]

Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god. [ 31 ]

Referring to a duprass:

A true duprass can't be invaded, not even by children born of such a union. [ 41 ]

Referring to a granfalloon:

If you wish to study a granfalloon,
Just remove the skin of a toy balloon. [ 42 ]

Regarding Jesus' "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's.":

"Pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn't have the slightest idea what's really going on." [ 46 ]

On his own re-birth

A fish pitched up
By the angry sea,
I gasped on land,
And I became me.

Be like a baby,
The Bible say,
So I stay like a baby
To this very day. [ 49 ]

On Mona Aamons Monzano:

Mona has the simplicity of the all. [ 64 ]

A poem on pretending to understand:

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand. [ 81 ]

On cosmology: [ 85 ]

"... wherein Borasisi, the sun, held Pabu, the moon, in his arms, and hoped that Pabu would bear him a fiery child.

But poor Pabu gave birth to children that were cold, that did not burn; and Borasisi threw them away in disgust. These were the planets, who circled their terrible father at a safe distance.

Then poor Pabu herself was cast away, and she went to live with her favorite child, which was Earth. Earth was Pabu's favorite because it had people on it; and the people looked up at her and loved her and sympathized.

Bokonon's opinion of his cosmology: [ 85 ]

Foma! Lies! A pack of foma!

On maturity: [ 88 ]

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.

On Mona's fate: [ 88 ]

Mona Aamons Monzano will marry the next President of San Lorenzo [after Papa Monzano].

On parting: [ 102 ]

It is never a mistake to say good-bye.

On love: [ 104 ]

A lover's a liar,
To himself he lies,
The truthful are loveless,
Like oysters their eyes!

On God: [ 107 ]

God never wrote a good play in his life.

On man's troubles: [ 110 ]

Sometimes the pool-pah exceeds the power of humans to comment.

On man's power to control: [ 111 ]

Any man can call time out, but no man can say how long the time out will be.

Also on man's power to control: [ ? ]

It is not possible to make a mistake.

[ Mona says this to John, and it is described as a "customary greeting given by all Bokononists when meeting a shy person." ]

On history: [ 113 ]

History! Read it and weep!

On religion: [ 118 ]

Of course it's trash!

On man's destiny: [ 119 ]

Today I will be a Bulgarian Minister of Education. Tomorrow I will be Helen of Troy.

We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.

On the ignorance of learned men: [ 124 ]

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

On "the heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality,
and the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it: [ 125 ]

Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and winks,
For he knows a man's as big as what he hopes and thinks!

The Final Sentence

If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who. [ 127 ]

Dictionary of Terms from The Books of Bokonon

* The boko-maru is a Bokononist ritual for "the mingling of awarenesses". [ 72 ] It consists in two people extending their legs, thrusting their arms behind them for support, and putting their bare feet together. [ 91 ]

* Busy, busy, busy is what a Bokononist whispers "whenever [he] thinks about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is." [ 32 ]

* Duffle is "the destiny of thousands upon thousands of persons when placed in the hands of a stuppa. [ 89 ]

* A duprass is "a karass composed of only two persons". The members of a duprass die within a week of each other. [ 41 ] A duprass "is a valuable instrument for gaining and developing, in the privacy of an interminable love affair, insights that are queer but true." It "is also a sweetly conceited establishment." [ 55 ]

* Foma are "lies" [ 118 ]; "harmless untruths" [ frontispiece ]; "a useful and harmless sort of horseshit". [ ?? ]

* A granfalloon is "a false karass, [...] a seeming team that [is] meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done." Examples of granfalloons are "the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows -- and any nation, anytime, anywhere. [ 42 ]

* A kan-kan is the instrument which brings one into his or her karass. [ 1 ]

* A karass is a "team [of people] that do[es] God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing". [ 1 ] Humanity is organized into many such teams. One can try to discover "the limits of [one's] karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do ... but such investigations are bound to be incomplete." [ 2 ]

* Pool-pah is translated both as "shit storm" and "wrath of God". [ 110 ]

* To saroon is "to acquiese to the seeming demands of [one's] vin-dit." [ 90 ]

* A sin-wat is "a man who wants all of somebody's love. That's very bad." [ 93 ]

* sinookas are "the tendrils of [one's] life". [ 4 ]

* A stuppa is "a fogbound child". [ 89 ]

* A vin-dit is "a sudden, very personal shove in the direction of Bokononism". [ 34 ]

* A wampeter is "the pivot of a karass, around which the souls of the members of the karass revolve." A karass has two wampeters at any time, one waxing and one waning.
[ 24 ]

* A wrang-wrang is "a person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity. [ 36 ]

* Zah-mah-ki-bo is "fate -- inevitable destiny". [ 82 ]

Also by Bokonon

The San Lorenzan National Anthem [ 63 ]
(Sung to the melody of 'Home on the Range'.)

Oh, ours is a land
Where the living is grand,
And the men are as fearless as sharks;
The women are pure,
And we always sure
That our children will all toe their marks.
San, San Lo-ren-zo!
What a rich, lucky island are we!
Our enemies quail,
For they know they will fail
Against people so reverent and free.

A Poem on the Creation of Bokononism [ 78 ]

So I said good-bye to government,
And I gave my reason:
That a really good religion
Is a form of treason.

The Last Rites of the Bokononism [ 99 ]
(Each line is said once by the person giving the rites and then repeated by the dying person.)

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait...
To find out for certain what my wampeter was...
And who was in my karass...
And all the good things our karass did for you.

On a Boulder near the Post-Ice Nine Mass Suicide [ 120 ]

To whom it may concern: These people around you are almost all of the survivors on San Lorenzo of the winds that followed the freezing of the sea. These people made a captive of the spurious holy man named Bokonon. They brought him here, placed him at their center, and commanded him to tell them exactly what God Almighty was up to and what they should now do. The mountebank told them that God was surely trying to kill them, possibly because he was through with them, and that they should have the good manners to die. This, as you can see, they did.

Eugene Wallingford ===== February 14, 2003

Dictionary of Terms from The Books of Bokonon

•   The boko-maru is a Bokononist ritual for "the mingling of awarenesses". It consists in two people extending their legs, thrusting their arms behind them for support, and putting their bare feet together.
•   Busy, busy, busy is what a Bokononist whispers "whenever [he] thinks about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is."
•   Duffle is "the destiny of thousands upon thousands of persons when placed in the hands of a stuppa."
•   A duprass is "a karass composed of only two persons". The members of a duprass die within a week of each other. A duprass "is a valuable instrument for gaining and developing, in the privacy of an interminable love affair, insights that are queer but true." It "is also a sweetly conceited establishment."
•   Foma are "lies"; "harmless untruths" [ frontispiece ]; "a useful and harmless sort of horseshit".
•   A granfalloon is "a false karass, [...] a seeming team that [is] meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done." Examples of granfalloons are "the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows -- and any nation, anytime, anywhere.
•   A kan-kan is the instrument which brings one into his or her karass.
•   A karass is a "team [of people] that do[es] God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing". Humanity is organized into many such teams. One can try to discover "the limits of [one's] karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do ... but such investigations are bound to be incomplete."
•   Pool-pah is translated both as "shit storm" and "wrath of God".
•   To saroon is "to acquiese to the seeming demands of [one's] vin-dit."
•   A sin-wat is "a man who wants all of somebody's love. That's very bad."
•   sinookas are "the tendrils of [one's] life".
•   A stuppa is "a fogbound child".
•   A vin-dit is "a sudden, very personal shove in the direction of Bokononism".
•   A wampeter is "the pivot of a karass, around which the souls of the members of the karass revolve." A karass has two wampeters at any time, one waxing and one waning.
•   A wrang-wrang is "a person who steers people away from a line of speculation by reducing that line, with the example of the wrang-wrang's own life, to an absurdity.
•   Zah-mah-ki-bo is "fate -- inevitable destiny".
Quote"...  Anyone who was anyone in the ancient mythological world had to do a tour of duty in the Underworld.  Inanna is the Sumerian queen of heaven who tricked her father into giving her the Tablets of Destiny, which contained the arts of astrology & other systems of divine navigation.  Out of compassion, she gave them to humanity.  ("Take 2 tablets, & call me after the millennium.")

Some versions of her story say that, compelled by her own intrepid curiosity, she decided to descend from the sky to the Underworld.  Other versions say that she was tricked by an invitation from Eriskegal, Queen of the Underworld.  Either way, before leaving she tells her friends that if she does not return within 60 days, they should 1st mourn her, then come rescue her.

As Inanna descends, at each of the 7 gates of the Underworld she is stripped of 1 of her attributes:  her crown, her jewelry, her robes, her pride, her self-esteem – everything but her sense of humor.  Finally she stands naked before Eriskegal, who fixes her with a stone-cold stare.  Under this frigid gaze, all life leaves Inanna's body & she is hung as a corpse in the land of the dead.

60 days pass.  In the above-world, all of creation goes into mourning except for Inanna's consort, Dumozi, the god of vegetation, who really whoops it up.  Her concerned friends & father descend & negotiate a hostage release with Ersikegal.  They finally broker a deal in which Inanna can return to the upper world as long as she sends down a replacement.  Inanna says, "Hhhhmmm . . . I wonder who that will be?  How about my charming husband who didn't shed a tear for me?"

Dumuzi the vegetative god had become a vegetable, a party vegetable, a veritable couch potato in need of an initiatory descent.  So he is sent down as her replacement.  In turn, Inanna negotiates his release for half the year, during which time the desert blooms.

In a similar tale from Greek mythology, Persephone descends to the Plutonian Underworld a young girl bust ascends a queen & a woman.   ... "

- Making the Gods Work For You, The Astrological Language of the Psyche by Caroline W. Casey

Just curious if anyone has ever heard of Eriskegal?
Or Kill Me / Struggle for Existence
September 01, 2008, 07:17:21 PM
QuoteWe will now discuss in a little more detail the Struggle for Existence.
-Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

The Law of Requisite Variety was developed by a pioneer Cybernetician, Ross Ashby.  Originally used in Cybernetics and Stochastic Systems:

(1) the amount of appropriate selection that can be performed is limited by the amount of information available. (2) for appropriate regulation the variety in the regulator must be equal to or greater than the variety in the system being regulated. Or, the greater the variety within a system, the greater its ability to reduce variety in its environment through regulation. Only variety (in the regulator) can destroy variety (in the system being regulated). The law was formulated by Ross Ashby. (Umpleby)

Its two interpretations are: (1) The amount of appropriate selection that can be performed is limited by the amount of information available. More information might be wasted but less information results in arbitrary decisions (see chance). (2) To confine the variety in system with input, the regulator (see regulation) of that system must have at least as much variety available as the variety disturbing the system through its inputs. "Only variety (in the regulator) can destroy variety (in the system being regulated)" (Ashby). The LAW OF REQuired model-regulator identity is a more general version of the law of requisite variety. (Krippendorff)

The Law of Requisite Variety has been used in other disciplines, Communication Theory, Systems Theory & Neurolinguistic Programming to name a few (maybe also Mike Reed's Flame Warriors system too?)

In Communication Theory it is thought that in interactions between 2 or more individuals, the one who demonstrates the most flexibility will end up controlling the outcome.

QuoteIn Neurolinguistic Programming: "the Law of Requisite Variety in a given physical systems, is that part of the system with the greatest flexibility of behavior will control the system."

In Systems Theory, complex systems look different depending on perspective & most variety is thought to be absorbed through relationships with other systems.  Complex systems (like fr'instance geographical systems we call countries, states, communities, etc.) create unbelievable amounts of variety or diversity.  An objective or goal in most systems is to promote stability or equilibrium for that system, so that that system will continue to exist.  A complex system, like the United States of America, for example, uses laws, customs, cultures, religion, etc. to encourage stability. 

The United States, from the beginning, encouraged the influx of "new blood."  As a result, the people of the United States came to, & are still coming from, various other Countries.  This "melting pot" very often, in actual practice, consisted of various groups vying for prime territory.  In Manhattan, & in other parts of this Country, you can still see vestiges of these attempts by various groups of people, the Chinatowns or the Little Italys or the Germantowns, etc.  (imho these are usually the most interesting parts of any City - best food too  :) )  More often than not the peoples branch out & try to find their own "American Dream." 

Quote"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it".
George Carlin (1937 – 2008)

The real hilarity ensues when certain groups or individuals in a culture (or in a system, society or Country, etc.) find (sometimes it's the second or third generation, & sometimes the first) that the playing fields seems to be stacked against them.  The Cosa Nostra, the Russian, German, or Jewish Mafia, etc. form when these groups find it difficult or impossible to express their variety through the regular avenues and group together or re-group or whatever? to seek out the "dream" for themselves. 

I have witnessed the ongoing "rubbing out" of 2 of these groups in my lifetime alone (& yes I am old as sin haha).  Growing up on Long Island, NY I've observed the mansions, estates, etc. of the Old Guard (mostly the WASP NY Four Hundred Families) dismantled & either bought by the New Guard (sometimes Cosa Nostra folk or Middle East Oil money or just plain ole nouveau riche) or subdivided into a bunch of new homes for so-called middle class folk (& at a million dollars or more a pop, I wonder where that places moi on that spectrum?).  The demise of this group began with the crash of 1929 & continues its slow death to this day.  Well, that was the first group.  The second group was the Cosa Nostra.  The RICO laws, the new groups coming in competing for control of territory, mano a mano, & well, mostly the RICO laws.     

I digress.  Enuff of my little world.  On a larger scale tho I see much of the same sorta stuff?  US foreign policy?  We're running out of room here (greed) & the need? to spread out to new territories & the Empire continues?  Propping up dictators in other Countries & hoping they do or don't get stabbed in the back?  Making deals?  Mano a mano.  Witness Protection programs?  They did that here in NY with the old Mafia dons.  The government went after them & then let them out on bail, & then the hysteria, mayhem & murder madness, & especially stirring up the paranoia so that the next wannabees in line would do their work for them.  The government & the lawyers get most of the old don's money (through tax evasion gambits as opposed to the legal tax avoidance scams?) & the crime organizations get passed on to different groups.  War on Drugs?  War on Terror?  Who's on First?  War on ...       

To conclude my little rant, "Peoples are Peoples."  Capisce?  The greatest strength this Country (US) has is its diversity or the variations in its Peoples.  More flexibility (Law of Requisite Variety) & we need new blood! (oh & to stop being such greedy fucks too?).  We also need to Wake the Fuck Up!  WTFU!

Any thoughts on this?