Non-Sequiter

They sat in comfortable chairs across from each other, chatting, snug in the house, listening to fat raindrops outside plop steadily onto tropical leaves .

“Yesterday I struggled to remember the next door neighbor’s name before it finally surfaced in my memory,” she said.

“Huh! Stuff like that’s always been a problem for me, and it’s getting worse now,” he commiserated.

“For years I had a mental block against the word hydrangea before I figured a way to dig it out of my brain. Guess I finally laid down a new neural pathway because now I can remember it just fine.” She said it offhandedly, but recalled what a challenge it had seemed at the time.

How do I respond to that?, he wondered, so he simply nodded and shifted his weight slightly from one hip to another comfortable position as she continued to talk.

“In fact, I’ve decided to name my next protagonist Hydrangea…she’ll be one of five sisters, I think, whose mother named them after flowers.” She pushed a graceful hand out toward him, raising one slender finger at a time, giggling as she said, “Rose, Lily, Iris, Daisy, and Hydrangea!”

That’s funny, he thought, and answered, “Hydrangea will ask her mom why her sisters have such short,easy names, don’t you think? And her mom can say ‘you have a complicated name because yours was a complicated birth’.”

They snickered, living the moment and loving each other, while outside the fat raindrops made music in the tropical foliage.

 

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll wrote about his leading character, Alice, finding herself essentially in an alternate reality when she fell into and through a mirror. Those who are much smarter than I am described Carroll’s entire book as a statement on the politics of his day. Dumb as I may be, I tend to agree. Recently, I remembered the entire “falling through the looking glass” scenario as I watched first a bit of a TV program (Fargo – love it!), then bunches of commercials, then a bit of the program, then bunches of commercials – you get the idea, right?

But that’s not the “looking glass” part, though getting to the meat of a program is like cutting through the fat and gristle on a very overdone and extremely cheap steak. No, I became fascinated with how a couple of items are marketed.

First, let’s take cell phones, for instance: I’ve always understood cell phones to be primarily for the purpose of voice communication, haven’t you? Then, text messaging cropped up, followed by emails. But that’s not at all how today’s generation of cell phones are marketed; in fact, voice, text, and email communication is rarely mentioned. Now the ads are all about camera and video capability, remote access to cars, houses, and security systems. I do get a kick out of watching adolescent 20-year-olds jump moguls, but come on, people. These are PHONES, aren’t they? Well, maybe not any more. Now they’re video cams that incidentally include phones.

Automobiles are another product that is very strangely advertised on TV. (Trucks, too, folks.)  The purpose of cars is for transportation, isn’t it? To get us from here to there and maybe back again? Once more, I must say that I really love the erotic element of many car commercials – who doesn’t like a little bit of romantic whimsy, but even that is fleeting. The primary focus of the ads no longer seems to involve transportation, but rather the Bose sound system, the Cue infotainment center, Pandora and Sirius, etcetera, etc.  All these extraneous extras that will make us more powerful and attractive to others, and more relaxed and comfortable in our moving shell. Sorta makes me scared that drivers will be so relaxed they’ll snooze right off.

So when phones aren’t talked about as phones but as cameras, and cars aren’t talked about as cars but as nearly something else entirely, does that mean I have already fallen through the looking glass, but didn’t even know it?

Help! How do I get away from this nonsensical place and back to the land of reason? Or is it too late………

 

That’s Great – As Far As It Goes, That Is

     Inner Fish, Inner Reptile, etc, etc. Fascinating, right? I’m serious; it is fascinating, especially for those of us who studied geology and fossils back in the good ol’ days BGS (Before Great Strides) were made with the help of PBS and the National Geographic Channel.

     However, these things don’t provide answers to my Inner Confusion. (Okay, I admit I’m Waay too lazy to do any kind of research on the matter – not that I believe I would ever get a definitive answer.) This is the crux of my inner confusion – at what point did some kind of creature develop the capacity to REASON? Do humans know for certain that any other creatures share that capacity? 

     Okay, I know that squirrels can figure out a complicated series of actions to finally vault onto the bird feeder. Does that mean they can reason? Is the cat, ready for a wild midnight foray outside in the neighborhood, using reasoning when he plops onto my slumbering chest in the middle of the night with a loud meow? (THAT’LL get her attention, heh heh heh!)  Are whales reasoning as they communicate with clicks and moans?

     And why did humans learn to invent? Or study? What process, and WHEN, precipitated the ever increasing capacity of the brain to assimilate knowledge? Back in those good ol’ days in grade school we were told modern man’s initial toehold on the future began with the accidental discovery that fire sparked (ha!) a cascade of changes. I can almost see a couple of textbook authors somewhere saying, “Let’s tell THAT to the kids. It’s as good as any other explanation.”

     And does reasoning and consciousness just die out when our bodies expire? Or does the energy of our consciousness and assimilated knowledge remain in some unknown state invisible but undissipated? I’m so ignorant, and will always be confused! 

     

Prognostications and Pigeonholes

What IS it about the United States? It seems as though everyone and his Uncle Tim tries mightily to cram each and every one of us into some kind of category, as though they themselves will not feel comfortable until their little (or big) pigeonholes have ingested another being. Put in conversational terms, it could go like this:

    “That’s right, darlin’, ease in right over there next to that big fella, why don’t ya? I think y’all believe most of what I believe. No, no, I’m sending that guy to another pigeonhole. I can tell he don’t have no idea about what is true or what is real, anyway. I have a SPECIAL place for him and others like him. You know what I mean?”

     “No, I DON’T know what you mean. My personal opinion is that most of what you believe is ca ca poule. Besides, the bottoms of your pigeonholes are slimy with crud-o-la. And I LIKE that other dude. Not only does his intellect challenge mine, his ideas are helping me refine my personal philosophy.”

     “If you refuse to be pigeonholed, then there must be something dangerous and very wrong with you. You have to accept the inevitable or there will be predictable consequences.”

     “And what might those predictable consequences be?”

     “You will be ostracized, criticized, mortified, horrified – called loony, called different, called alien, called an awful person.”

     “Wow!  I’d probably like that.  That would make me pretty special. I wouldn’t have to believe, nor would I have to disbelieve. The atoms and molecules that house my consciousness can do their own thing, and…… Best of all, I could stay out of the slime.

The Cosmos TV show on Fox

The reiteration of Carl Sagan’s original series on the Cosmos has me hooked.  I wait eagerly from one week to the next until the next program airs.  The graphics are stunning, and Neil Tyson, the astrophysicist, is great in his job as the apologist (if you can call him that in this context).

Why am I enjoying this so? For one thing, it is a refresher course of scientific history that hearkens to man’s earliest curiosity about the world(s) we inhabit. The program telescopes the centuries of discovery in a way that allows us to marvel about how a few men’s ideas lead other men to hypothesize about greater ideas and grander theorems.

Much of the program is understandable by nearly everyone, but there are tiny bits that provoke thought in even those who have already scratched the surface of astrophysics.

As I watch and listen, I think of the creationists I know, one of whom insists that Earth and the living organisms on it is no more than 6,000 years old. I doubt any of them bother to watch Cosmos, but if they did, the suppositions would probably horrify them as terrible blasphemy.

What I finally take away with awe from each consecutive airing of the Cosmos is that, regardless of one’s position in regard to the universe and humanity’s position in it, the program reaffirms each person’s beliefs. Yet another paradox for believers and nonbelievers…