Friday, December 13, 2013

Monkeys without artificial intelligence

5 Shocking Ways Monkeys Are Just as Dysfunctional as Us

The above blog show some non-surprising ways "monkeys" are similar to us. And why? Because we are monkeys, the differences are not about sex, power, lying and manipulation, social structure, etc. We are alike because we have a common family tree. The only thing they lack is all this reading, the concepts, the structures of intelligence we have created, replicated and perfected over hundred of thousands of years, using our own brains as repositories, and other things too (like paint, stone, paper or computers).

So, yeah! We're smart because we replicate that smartness, but, guess what, we still have our feet deeply plunged in the savannah environment where our deepest ways of being made perfect sense for survival.

Violence, bullies and happiness

He who is silent and bows his head dies every time he does so. He who speaks aloud and walks with his head held high dies only once.
—Giovanni Falcone

The short version

In my perspective, the main problem with bullying is that our society only effectively punishes sexual violence. Other forms of violence are considered "normal", and form in fact a large part of the devices through which we are "integrated". Perhaps in the future slapping someone will be treated as severely as groping them (unwillingly of course, in both cases,as they are people who'd like something like a fight club, nothing wrong about that, as long as it is consensual). However, for instance, in movies, there are many heroes who are great even though (or even because) they harass people.It's like there were movies where the hero would rape young girls and he would be great nevertheless! They would just have to accept it!! Of course that is completely absurd, but that's what we have regarding bullying. And so much of the advice we get to deal with bullies is not to give it too much importance (wave and smile), or to report it to people who will do nothing about it, or to try and see it lightly, etc. In short: just live with it. I'm sure bullies would love to hear that advice being giving to their victims, sexual predators still have that in some countries and, a few centuries ago, that was the prevailing view: you just had to accept it, especially if it was your husband or some very important person.

In my view, as long as society implicitly accepts (non-consensual) violence, there is only one way to deal with bullies and other forms of violence: we must be ready to die to defend our honor as much as we are ready to die for any other (good) cause. Not only in theory, but in practice too. Not only regarding abusive people, but institutions, habits, addictions, prejudices, ignorance, etc: everything that imprisons us.

It's tough, but it's tougher to live imprisoned in  fear.

So, if you are being bullied, take some karate lessons in a place where you feel at home, and master it. You'll gain much more than physical strength.

For the opposite / complementary perspective: 5 Bad Ideas for Dealing With Bullies You Learned in Movies

The longer version

If you can imagine a society where it would be so absurd to sexually rape someone as calling them bad names, then you are part of a very small percentage of the population. We are a violent species: man prefer fists and weapons, females prefer psychological warfare. Our self-made environment is filled with violence, from the workplace to the streets, shaping politics and the markets. But there are exceptions to that, small exceptions, everywhere. So you find business people that are fair and want to improve happiness around them, you find marriages where people actually want the best for the other, even if that implies leaving them, you find scientists who care not about their career but about the truth, artists who are not interested in selling but in the depth of their creations. Unfortunately, violence tends to win. It's like sex, you can have a community of people living in great love for each other, but if there is this one guy who starts raping every girl, he will spread, not only his genes, but his way of being. Feelings of revolt, of shame, desires of violent responses will be harboured by both the raped and their loved ones. Whoever wins, will win through violence.

You have movies like the Lord of the Rings, where there seems to be a middle ground (giving up the ring), but we fail to translate the metaphor to practice: there are weapons everywhere and how could it be otherwise? In the book you learn about Tom Bombadil, and then there is a poem about him, also written by Tolkien, where Bombadil escapes those that want to hurt him just by showing that he knows them, inside out.
 This vision is also comparable to some Kung Fu stories, like Bruce Lee liked to tell, where the enemy disappears once you understand him/her.

However poetic that image may be it is very difficult to find it a universal application in practice. In some cases that works, in some cases you can even turn your foes into friends. But that depends a lot on the situation. For instance, you might really like beetles, but if you want to feed from your backyard you'll have to fight all the animals that are trying to get to those juicy apples and tender vegetables. And it's not just a friendly "please go eat somewhere else", there might not be somewhere else, and they are simply too many, they will reproduce and they will infest what you are trying to cultivate. You may deal with that by investing in bug predators, or chemical poisons, but the end result is the same, you win they loose, and they will pay with their lives, in the thousands, for the sweet taste in your mouth.

How can Tom Bombadil deal with that? You might find all this a little bit obscure, after all we were speaking about violence among people, not about killing itsy-bitsy insects. We might indeed have to kill billions of insects in order to stay alive. Perhaps if we would kill them all in the first place we wouldn't have to do it again. Our hands would only be blood stained for a time, and, after that, we could be vegetarians with a cleaner soul. "This fruit was made without killing any living being," we could then say, "because they are none left who could feed from it!" What a wonderful solution! (I'm being ironic, of course)

But how does that translate into violence among humans? After all, that is what interests us, right? We are not interested about how many billions cannot live in order for us to feed, if they are insects. Even if they are cows, and pigs, and chickens, why should we give a damn? After all their just "animals" whereas we are the Sons and Daughters of the Almighty God, who has placed the rest of His Creation in our hands, so that we could prosper, right? Or in any case, if you're scientifically minded, they are just stupid, perhaps they are not even conscious, who knows? We are just following the laws of life.

But the translation into human violence is very simple: if you feel entitled to kill just because you want that apple, even if it is just insects, you are applying a principle which states that your life (or your pleasure) is more important than that little guy's life. You may also imagine that he does not have a real life, that he's just like a robot, and you can call the little guy "it" to reinforce the hiatus that separates the value of your two existences. The problem with that is that you can do that same reasoning to anyone, not only insects but to mammals, primates and yes, even those that share the same language with you.

After all, why shouldn't your life be more important that so and so... what objective criteria determines who should live? That would demand knowing the mind of God, or if God exists or not... But all we can really determine with our calibrated instruments, from a scientific perspective, tells nothing about values. We have to decide for ourselves what is valuable and what is not. So you may say that your life is more valuable that your neighbour's. You may say even that your pleasure is more valuable than your neighbour's life. From a logical point of view, it's just a declaration, an axiom, as much unproven as any other value attribution.

The fact that this actually works that way in our actual present-day society, can be seen from the way we do commerce, from pharmaceuticals to oil, to computer systems, etc. We don't sell what people actually need (like the health and happiness that comes from a quiet life of understanding), we create needs, the more the merrier, even if they tend to make people miserable. And then we keep selling them products. That excess accelerates the level of destruction we are producing in our own environment. So, in a couple of centuries, Earth will have much less variety, it will be less pleasant, which may take us into an ever growing spiral of destruction, a dystopia which seems only too likely.

Why do we do this? Why do we sell unhealthy food, anti-depressives when people needed to relax and enjoy life more, TVs when what they need is to be together, leave the house and enjoy nature? We do this for money. Now money is just a convenient illusion to organize work in a society. Having lots and lots of those pieces of paper in general should be seen as an inconvenience, because people will look at you with envy, you might get abducted or, even if you live in a "secured" area, people might interact with you because of your money, and so they won't tell you what you need to know or what they really think about you, unless it doesn't affect their chances of eventually getting some of that. In general you will become more and more alone, surrounded  by people who don't love you, as people will see less and less of you and more and more of your money. So why would anyone want to have a big pile?

Part of the reason comes from violence again: if we were satisfied with our affective, emotional, relations, we would gladly give away a large part of those pieces of paper if we knew we would be seen by what we really are, by our thoughts, feelings, deeds and ideals, we would be happy showing our "true colors", being loved by what we truly are. We would have "togetherness", and who needs piles of money where you can have piles of love, understanding and companionship instead?

But the thing is: some of us simply don't believe in that togetherness, we have never experienced it. Some of us have "learned" that the only respect they will ever have is through the power they have gathered. And so they will search for the closeness they can get through power and money. That's the only way they know to feel close and safe.

As you can see, this may be seen as a direct consequence of the widespread acceptance of violence and competition in our present societies. It is far from being the only cause, however. If it was, we would certainly have records of human societies where violence is absent. But although that appears among many species of animals, it is very rare among primates (the bonobo for instance seem to escape that fight for power, but even then their power is constantly being traded through sex - however, many other species, like most dolphins and elephants, don't fight among themselves).

Our history has shaped us to be violent, it's in our genes. But there are many things in our genes that culture has controlled. Sexual violence is one of them in most western democracies. Today rape, pedophilia, etc, is strictly forbidden in most western countries, not just in principle, but in practice. So why are other forms of violence still able to be accepted, even though they create the same kind of trauma, leading many times to suicide? Why is sexual rape so severely punished whereas psychological abuse and other forms of physical abuse are treated with such leniency?

I suspect that the reason for that is just habit. It's the same reason that has allowed man to rape women for millennia, and that was just, you know, "normal", the thing to do ("one survey found that 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him." (wikipedia)). We still have countries where to marry a woman you just kidnap her and rape her. And then she has (or at least should) marry you. The Bible also has stories of that kind, where the rapist gets as punishment marriage to the one he raped. ( "Marriage gave conjugal rights to a spouse, and marriage could not be revoked except by private Act of Parliament—it therefore seemed to follow that a spouse could not legally revoke consent to sexual intercourse, and if there was consent there was no rape." (idem))

Today these stories seem absurd to the extreme, a well-educated person may feel outraged by how they ever happened among mankind. But they do continue to exist in erotic stories and couples who like to explore a more SM side of their relationship. And what could be wrong with that? I mean if two people consensually desire to explore being tied up, flogging and so on, who are we to say they are wrong?

Rape is not the physical act, it's the fact that the act is being done without consent.

If you are playing with someone and you both agree that you are playing the raping kind of game, then there is nothing wrong with that: you're experimenting with a part of our personalities, long ago engrained in our species, and of which I think we should not be ashamed of. In fact, many couples say that it allows for a deep degree of closeness that they wouldn't be able to achieve in other ways.

In my view the same thing happens with other forms of violence: there is nothing wrong in doing martial arts, going into box fightings or simulating fights in "wrestling" shows. If you like it, and if the other person you're doing it with likes it, then go for it. Smash your face all over, it's your life, do whatever you want with it.

But the fact that consensual violence should be free for everyone who wants it, should never trespass into the lives of those who chose not to live that way. Now that line, which should be as clear as anything, is not at all present in our society. We are taught to suffer the bully, not to give him/her importance. He / She will go away, eventually, hopefully. Now that is sooooo wrong. That is actually the basis of the widespread use of bullying in our society. Because, once you admit that the bully is somewhat entitled to "rape you" (non sexually, of course) the only way we have to defend yourself is well, by entering the game. There is no other way! If a country engages in a fight with some other country, then the response must be of the same kind. In our society this would only be avoided if law enforcement would immediately and effectively repress that kind of unwanted violence, just as it does with rape. This would necessarily mean heavy penalties for the ones involved, prison, etc. As long as that does not happen you'll have to fight for yourself.

Now there are other perspectives on this, one that may seem the opposite is this: 5 Bad Ideas for Dealing With Bullies You Learned in Movies.
In this link you'll find a story of a guy of fighted back and it only got worse. Now, he was not fighting one bully, but a whole region full of them. In that case you're obviously going to die or kill lots of people if you live long enough (the chance that you won't die is almost like the chance of winning the lottery). But even if you don't die, your grades will suffer, because you will be suspend, just like they are, and so your downward spiral toward the violent life that you're trying to elope is going forward and forward. Now he presents his preferred solutions, one of them is to get back in the crowd, don't stand out and you will not be seen by the bully, if this works it is because the bully will "find someone else to pick on". Wow! Great solution, right! But in the case of this guy what made the difference was when their mother understood the seriousness of the situation and they all moved to another city. Now that really can't be a global solution. We can't all run away, and besides, that's stupid. It's them who should run away or accept that their freedom stops when the freedom of the other starts.

So the solution must be to vote on politicians that give this subject enough importance to solve it on a nation-wide scale. That means changing the laws and enforcing them strictly. I'm not saying we should be "pussies", I'm saying use your martial arts where they are needed, in training or if an actual fight to defend your country or your loved ones. Using your martial skills to attack some defenceless one is just a way of showing that you need treatment and/or isolation, just like any other kind of rapist. The problem with this solution is that big politics is usually involved with big money, and big money is usually involved with lots of violence, be it physical, manipulative, etc. So most of the people who are in power are there precisely because they are some sort of bullies to begin with. I'm not sure how to solve that one. Perhaps war after war after war will teach us that there's better ways to solving our problems than trying to step others down. Collaboration might be the key, a hint got by the bees and the flowers a long time ago.

In any case, as long as laws don't protect us, we are on our own, and we must do whatever is necessary to guarantee our honour, our sanity, our peace of mind. And we should feel responsible for maintaining peace for others too, for the bully is like a disease, it's like a cancer, it spreads and even if it starts far away from you, it will eventually get to you, at least in your mind. Because in every moment of your life you'll know that people are suffering unnecessarily, just because they're weak. And that process expands violence everywhere. Violence begets violence, in a never-ending spiral.

Of course, the "vigilante" may himself become a source of more violence. Wasn't that how the mob began? But there is a very clear line between those that only interfere with the freedom of others as a last, hugely undesirable, resource, trying to minimize the amount of destruction they create, and those that attack by pleasure, and simply because they can. But the vigilante is, of course, far from the ideal response. Without society, and in the presence of violent men, we can only resort to the law of the strongest (we are primates after all!), only society could repress rape and other forms of sexual violence. The vigilante solution is always a last case solution, it will never work out in the long run for it is likely yo generate even more violence (the perception of a single error in the application of "justice" is all that it takes for more vigilantes to appear, this time to take care of our vigilante's violence.) Only we, has a society, have the power to stop it.

Vote! Vote for people who will end this nightmare.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The news presenter

It is easy to see the news presenter as a disposable element when we see the tv news. After all we're interested in the news, the presenter is just presenting them, it's the agreeable in-between in what we really want to see. But just imagine what it would be like to see the news without the accompanying presenter... First of all it is extremely rare to find such a news report, but if you could find it, how would it be like. Suppose it would show the hungry faces of some African kids, the desperate faces of refugees fleeing from war zones in a farway place, your town-team that just won or lost its game.

Now, in direct, uninterpreted, connection in all of that, you might feel tempted to think for a long time on those African kids, on those refugees, you might even cry thinking about them, feel indignation, ignited even, to protest, to change your vote. But looking at the face of the news pivot, you see how one well-behaved, illustrious member of your own society, should react to such news. It's subtle, very subtle, but the reaction is there. Important events, like the team winning the championship, will invoke many interviews, commentaries, even a sign of deep (but hidden) commotion from the presenter. And you'll know this is important, by all those subtle signs. Now the kids in Africa will be discussed with the usual unconcern, and the "in other news" will be just around the corner...

The pivot is not just an accessory: he is the main character in all the news report, in a subtle way (unconsciously) he is telling us how to react, how to interpret, how to feel, how not to feel, about this and that... he is truly modeling and helping to maintain some stability on society.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Adam and Eve


They just took their clothes off...

it took what, how many years??

Ñow it's time for the rest of us! "Take off your clothes Adam and Eve" it's time to see the starlight, to enjoy the world, everything, leave the boundaries, the clothes, the concepts, the wars and frontiers, the lies, the corruption, the hierarchies, the fame and fashion, all the false pictures of you that enslave you!!

We can do what we want !! Just enjoy life! Don't suffer it. It's a gift!

It's Paradise, just take it!

PS - ok, these guys were probably stoned...  :((( I think they don't really get it. I mean they do get it while they're stoned, rich and excited, but not if they were to loose it all; I don't think they would understand the deep, cosmic meaning of being free inside the beauty of the cosmos, whoever you are, even if you're poor and alone and all you have is the starry night. However, the music's idea is entirely correct: it's Paradise, just take it! Without the aids / drugs, take the Real thing! Love, Awareness, Freedom, the mystery and adventure of Existing without fear, loosing the concept of sin: it's a gift.

Ecstasy isn't what you have or who you're with: it's understanding what this is, our life, our existence, the existence of the cosmos and the beauty of everything taken together. The opportunity of seeing and the inevitability of being part of this infinite beauty.

If you have that, you feel the ecstasy just by partially understanding who you are and where you are, you certainly don't need drugs. You consciousness is the best source of ecstasy.

Man! That was disappointing. Back to Chopin. Not Paradise, but at least sane.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I searched for the truth and found only Beauty...

One of the truths I didn't find, although I searched it a lot, was to know if Beauty was real or just a "figment of my imagination".

If Beauty is a real connection to reality, then perhaps though beauty I am achieving what I searched for with truth: connecting with what's real.

In any case Beauty and Truth seem to go hand in hand. Why beauty needs truth is easy to see, for only truth is immutable. Beauty based on illusions will decay. On the other hand it's much harder to explain why ugly truths also tend to be dispelled by much more beautiful truths. The first pictures we imagined of our world were indeed quite ugly, with terrible gods and vengeance and fear, a small world governed by petty interests. As look farther and farther into the horizon we see a world full of galaxies and worlds without end. The music of the stars, that people like Vangelis have been able to materialize, show a little of that larger world, of that larger horizon, much more beautiful then our slaughterhouse where the good/obedient will be rewarded and the bad will be punished.

But this is just one example. For instance, it may seems that our body is ugly, if we look at its internal organs, but when we look at them closer and closer to the cellular level, and begin to understand its complexity we can no longer see it as something ugly. By the contrary, it appears almost unbelievable that such a thing might exist at all, and it is in our hands, it is our hands ^_^.

That truth itself tends towards beautifulness seems to me an impenetrable mystery, could be taken as a sign that things are even more beautiful than we are able to imagine them to be.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The sacred place where we meet

Who we are and...
who we are.

When I give you my hand, there is so much going on...

There is the movement of billions of cells entangling each other, protected by soft skin, there is the me and you that will never meet, separated by who we are: different embodiments of histories and memories, brains and perspectives, hormones and directions... we'll never meet, but we communicate: through words, through touching hands and curious eyes...

But we do meet: when I see your beauty, I can't really understand it, grasp it, explain it, even to myself. But I see it nevertheless, not with the eyes of the body, but with what Plato called the eyes of the soul. I "see" you, and I meet you, in a place far beyond what I can sense and explain. In a place where I am, where I am you, and we are part of everything.

In that place there are no frontiers, just beauty, marvelment, togetherness. I don't know how to explain it. It seems to be a place beyond words, beyond the powers of the mind and language. A place that we cannot point to, because it's not a particular thing in space and time. It's not outside and does not reveal itself in any particular behavior.

But when we're there, everything seems one: we are part of everything and everything is part of us. And that is the only time I know of, when we're together as one.

So, when I give you my hand,
there is so much going on: there is the physical us, the situated us, holding hands, and they will never truly mingle. And then there is a much more subtle us, where you and I disappear, into a bowl of love.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Polyamory and an Exposé of Polygamy

Fanny Stenhouse became very well known in the late 1870's for denouncing the unhappiness that Polygamy in the Mormon community at the time made her and other suffer.  Her 1972 book Exposée of Polygamy, was recently reedited by Linda DeSimone, Utah State University Press, in 2008.

She describes how a husband would shine in the ballroom while his previous wives would stand waiting like "wallflowers".

The power difference between man and woman was absolute: the man was seen as the head and the woman had to obey in everything (although the man supposedly decided in function of what was best for the wife, family and, above all, "God").  Coincidently, only men were allowed to have more than one wife, the contrary was deemed absurd, although there could be "proxy husbands" to generate sons for a defunct husband, and divorces were easily conceded on the wife's request.

The marriage was therefore not so much based in communication and sharing of everything but mostly on one directing and the other obeying.

From everything I've read it would seem that the resemblance between the polyamorous relations of today and the polygamous relations of the early Latter Day Saints (LDS) is shallow at best. They both are involved in official non-monogamous sexual relationships and in both cases partners had to deal with "jealousy", but, beyond that, there seems to be little or no similarities.

The Mormon polygamy was endured like a cross in this life in order to obtain "glory" in the next and to fulfil our love and devotion towards the "Heavenly Father". It was not supposed to give pleasure, the main end was to create offspring that would in turn populate other worlds like our worlds were populated by our Heavenly Father and Mother.

In contrast, polyamory relationships are not specifically connected with any particular faith. They result from the simple acceptance that the heart, or at least the human heart, loves beauty wherever it is. Forcing it to love person A while, at the same time, being indifferent to person B, when A and B are similar in very important aspects, is like asking it to lie. And even if the heart lies, it is just a lie. In truth, if it loves, let's say "Amélie", it will love all the "Amélies" in the whole wide world, and the same for Johns and Peters everywhere.

So, polyamory might just be seen as the desire to see the other as he/she really is, without denying hers/his most profound feelings, without creating a fissure between what one feels and what one expresses or, worse, between what one truly feels and what allows himself/herself, to feel.

So, in a very true sense, they are opposite experiences: polyamory attempts to free the inner emotions, to allow for what is considered "sinful" to be perceived, understood, dealt with in a loving way. Whereas the XIX century polygamic experience of the LDS practitioners was not so much centered on augmenting individual expression, but on being absolutely obedient, to the point of almost disappearance, to a divine law.

Notice that these two avenues may perhaps be experimented by the same person, perhaps, in some cases, at the same time (like in BDSM where people freely experiment in the annihilation of their will). But they go, nevertheless, in opposite experiences, although each will bear some kind of fruit.

Other differences came from the asymmetry between the roles of men and women in the relation. We can't help but notice that, although just a coincidence, all the "revelations" of the LDS came from men, and curiously, they gave men the supreme power in their relationship with women. They also established an hierarchy that gave power to the people that had the revelations. But all this is common to most religions and other systems that imply social  organization. Order, social order, is easier to maintain when power is not distributed, although, in the long term, it leads to more rebellion as it seems seems to imply a great deal of suffering.

We must also notice that divorces were (and are) easy to obtain among the LDS, also, it is very easy to apostatize the religion, so no one seems forced to continue. If LDS religion seems a prison to some outside eyes, it is a prison with a very open door. All you have to do is cross it, and you're out. That means marriage and religion. Of course, not all religions are like that, some societies simply kill people who attempt to leave their religions. A practice sometimes associated with some Muslim societies (and countries). But in the case of the LDS, even at the time, all you had to do was just to catch a train or somehow just leave the place and do some other thing.

In any case, even with all that "freedom to leave", you really had to understand a few things in order to leave. Even if the door was open, it demanded the "feet of criticism" to walk it through. And to find those feet is far from easy, as Fanny Stenhouse remarked:
"There is, indeed, a dread in the soul of every good Mormon of entertaining any doubts about their leaders, or criticising in any way whatever they might think proper to do or say. Brigham Young, in one of his sermons, says, “In the days of Joseph, the first thing manifested in the case of apostasy was the idea that Joseph was liable to be mistaken; and when a man admits that in his feelings, and sets it down as a fact, it is a step toward apostasy; and he only needs to take one step more, and he is cut off from the church.” It is this kind of teaching that binds every man in Mormonism. I was, fortunately, not a man; and as women will sometimes persist in thinking for themselves, I kept on thinking and admitting that Joseph Smith was liable to be mistaken, and that Brigham Young even excelled him in this particular. In fact, he was not only “liable,” but I knew that he had been mistaken many times.
The strength of Mormonism consists in the “blind obedience” of its disciples. Let them once question what they hear from the Prophet, and they are gone! The quotation I have already given from Brigham’s sermon illustrates this. He knew what he spoke. Instead of rebelling against Polygamy, had I only read the revelation carefully, and doubted its divine origin, I would have been saved a life of misery. It was only when I came to the conclusion that Joseph Smith never had this revelation from God that I was delivered from my former faith, and became once more happy.
When I saw Mr. S. looking upon Brigham Young and his teachings and actions as he looked upon other men, I knew instinctively that he would finally conclude that Brigham was not only fallible, but even very liable to make mistakes.
Mr. S. had been so long engaged in the defence of Mormonism, that it was deeply grounded in him. Its teachings and observances seemed to him beyond a doubt, and were strongly riveted in his mind. Its weak and doubtful points fled before his faith. When I heard him with others bringing up some of the  questionable teachings of the church, criticising Brigham’s “counsellings,” and doubting some of his measures, and speaking of him as they would of any other of the brethren, I was satisfied that he could not long remain such as he once had been. Long years of submission, and the receiving, without question, a prophet’s teaching as divine inspiration, necessarily benumbs the soul and withers its life, till unconsciously the victim becomes an abject slave — a mere automaton."
What Fanny fails to consider, however, is that, even more difficult to criticize the Prophets, is to have a critical eye on our own personal experience. Because every true believer, whatever the religion, has a testimony that, undoubtedly, X is correct, because he/she has seen it with the eyes of the soul, or has confirmed it by some mystical experience of simply by some physical event. All over the world you find these evidences of the most diverse (and sometimes very strange - to the outsider) beliefs. If it's difficult to critice a Prophet, it is a hundred times more difficult to realize that we have a very developed ability to deceive ourselves for the sake of social integration and pleasure. Only a thorough study of human psychology, of how that deceiving happens in others and in other cultures and circumstances, may help see it working in ourselves.

But, even if we have this power of criticism, which is quite rare in the homo sapiens!, you would still have to muster a great amount of courage to leave, because, being a LDS, you were taught that apostasy was a great sin, that you would be destroyed and many bad things would occur to you, even worse that the ones that were already occurring. The worse part is that LDS' suffering had a purpose, you were going to be rewarded, whereas Gentile suffering (or at least having a "not so good" life) would just go on and on, even after death, for all eternity. Even if that didn't happen you would be criticized by the ones you loved most, all your family and your deepest friends. For instance, when Ann-Eliza Young apostatized  she received a letter from her mother that started:
"My dear child: You can never know how dear you are to your grief-stricken mother. Your death would be far preferable to the course you are taking. How gladly would I laid you in your grave, had I known what was in your heart. I now pray that you may be spared for repentance and atonement; for, as sure as you are living, a day of repentance will come; a day of reckoning and of sorrow, such as you have never imagined." (source, ch. 36)
This is the kind of response you might expect from those that are dear, notice however, that LDS are so faithful that death is usually not felt as such a bad thing, because it means nothing but a passage to a better life. You may miss the other person, but, generally, you are happy for her: she is again with her heavenly family and away from all these earthly trials.

And the union of these preconditions, of critical thinking and courage, seem to demand a third, and the most important: a desire for truth. Not a mere desire among others, but that the desire for truth is bigger than any other, including life itself, all forms of pleasure and social company. If a person values truth among anything else, sooner or later, she will be frustrated with the shallow views of any particular group. She/He will eventually have to accept that man knows very little, and it is in this ignorance that lies mankind's greatest adventure in the direction of the unknown Cosmos.

In any case, in this and many other cases of societies and religions, the door was truly open and it is kind of difficult to criticize any religion or society in which people may freely leave, however cruel and senseless are the burdens that it imposes on its followers.

Polyamory, of course, removes all of this burden and baggage. Whatever you do, you do because you want it to, you do because you are free to do it, and you can change over time, at any time. You only need to respect the others and yourself, all the rest is adventure. In fact, polyamory may be seen as that natural state for those that leave the yield of society's dogmas. For I know of no rational explanation that obliges everyone to have just monogamous relationships. Notice also that someone who accepts polyamory may just do it in recognition that in fact the heart is infinite. He/She does not need to actually go into a complex relationship with many people. In fact, it is easy to understand that such relationships would demand a huge amount of time, effort, commitment. So only a very few people that accept that the heart should know no bounds, would in fact be available to engage themselves in actual deep relationships with several persons at the same time. Just like it is one think to say: I would love to do many sports, play many musical instruments, read many books, travel to many places, and so on... another, completely different thing, is to actually engage in all those things. In fact:

"Love is infinite but time and energy are not."

For me, the important thing in Polyamory is not to actually have deep relations with many people at the same time (I'm kind of autistic - so, for me, that would be hell), but to recognize that we do in fact love many people at the same time, and it would be impossible not be so. My main idea, which renders polyamory so credible is the following:

If each person has a little of everything, if he/she reflects a little bit of everything there is, then to love that person entirely, I would have to love the whole universe, and reciprocally: I can only fully love a single person if I also love the entire universe. Of course, this idea entails polyamory whereas the contrary does not happen. I think this idea is true because everything seems to reflect everything. That is, even a single photon reflects the whole universe, for its particular existence in that particular context is only possible being the universe the way it is, including it's history. So, if that includes atoms and galaxies, it also includes everything else, including human beings.

It is important to stress that understanding that our heart is unbounded as little to do with engaging in relationships with multiple partners. It's very difficult to have a monogamous relation, so either we dedicate huge amounts of time to more complex relations or they become more shallow, which, to me, doesn't seem interesting.

However, although the experience of polygamy and polyamory may be quite opposite in all these respects, that are still some parallels which are interesting to reflect on. I will focus on two: the first is that couples in polyamory relations may establish rules. These rules have no special authority except that the people involved decide that they should follow them. For instance, for me, honesty is absolutely necessary. Although I know that lying is as natural to mankind as any other thing, I have trouble dealing with it. I'm not good at detecting lies and they confuse me a lot. Besides they destroy intimacy and the goal of a relationship which, in my view, is to share everything of importance. A person that lies to me, I have difficulty in considering her/him a friend, much less a deep friend.

Rules are important because, once you decide to strike way that obligation of monogamy, it seems everything else was stricken out too, but other rules may be vastly more important than monogamy.
"Poly relationships often involve negotiating agreements, and establishing specific boundaries, or "ground rules"; such agreements vary widely and may change over time, but could include, for example: consultation about new relationships; devising schedules that work for everyone; limits on physical displays of affection in public or among mixed company; and budgeting the amount of money a partner can spend on additional partners." (source)

The existence of these rules means that the concept of fidelity is also present in the relationship:

"fidelity not as sexual exclusivity, but as faithfulness to the promises and agreements made about a relationship. A secret sexual relationship that violates those accords would be seen as a breach of fidelity. Polyamorists generally base definitions of commitment on considerations other than sexual exclusivity, e.g. "trust and honesty" or "growing old together".(idem)

Here there are similarities with the LDS' experience, although the agreement in polyamory is only human, unique and negotiable. But the similarity, in fact, exists regarding all kinds of "contracts" between people, marital or not, monogamous or not. The fact is: a relationship, with one or many people, seems to involve a set of expectations of what is going to occur. And some of these expectations are so important that, to fail them, is to be infidel, that is, to destroy the very basis of the relation. For me, that would mean someone lying on an important subject. In polyamory as in other kinds of relations breaching of very important rules could put at risk the relation, specially if there was a prospect of it happening again.

But the most interesting point to focus on, for me at least, is the experience that we might call of "jealousy". This is something that is felt by many (but not all) engaged in love relationships either they are monogamous, polygamous, polyamorous, etc. And what determines this feeling is not at all clear.

Fanny Stenhouse equates jealousy with love, for her, if the wife had feelings for the husband, if she loved him, she would feel utterly destroyed, her heart would break, each time he would take another wife. She recalls her own very hurtful experience. From her husband proposing and courting another lady, to the approach of the wedding day, and the fact that the new wife was also "Mrs. Stenhouse", all this was hugely hurtful. More than that, all that hurt had to be disguised, secretly guarded, for it's exposure would only bring unnecessary strife to the household and even more explicit estrangement regarding the husband. Fanny recalls one of her first contacts with a Polygamic family:
"Soon after my arrival in Salt Lake City, I visited a family where there were five wives, three of whom I met on my first visit. They were all three intelligent women; but it pained me very much to see the sorrow depicted on the face of the first wife. [...] She told me of her sorrows. She thought it was very wicked of her to feel as she did, but she could not help it; and she told me that when she saw her husband so happy with the other wives, it was then that she felt most miserable, and could not hide her feelings from him. At those times, he would “sulk” with her, coming in and out of the house for days together without noticing her, and showing more than ever his fondness for the other one. She said, “I bear it as long as I can, and then I beg of him not to treat me so, as I can not live without his love.” I asked her how she could continue to love him when he treated her so? “O Mrs. Stenhouse!” she said, “when he treats me at all kindly, I am satisfied. When he smiles on me, I am only too happy. When I cease to love him, then I must be dead; and even then,” she added, “I think I should love him still!”"
Now, of course, the "sulking" of the husband completely breaks the communicating basis of every relationship, and we might attribute to that sulking the profound sorrow of this first wife, for it render her estranged from her husband, unable to share with him her most deep feelings, and therefore, although the problem might have been initiated by "jealousy", it probably was aggravated by loneliness. Once again the power differences between husband and wife permitted something that, even from the point of the LDS faith is undesirable, for the husband should absolutely respect and thoroughly listen to his wife. But, of course, practice and theory are difficult to reconcile when there is so much of a power difference and everyone that has power in the community is a man. Theoretically, for instance, it was not possible for a man to take another wife without the full knowledge and consent of his first wife, but it seems likely that not even Joseph Smith was up to that promise!

In any case, we can also assume that, even if the husband did fully hear and talked with his wife on all these matters, the suffering might not be diminished. In fact that is exactly Fanny's belief, that you cannot love and share at the same time!

"A gentleman of my acquaintance who has lived many years in Polygamy, a good, kind husband and father, recently said to me that one of his wives suffered terribly from Polygamy. He always avoided any mention of the word in her presence. He told me that he had often seen her happy and gay, with everything pleasant and agreeable around her, when, by some unforeseen fatality, some one present would allude to Polygamy. In an instant a deep gloom would come over her face; and, strive as he might to drive it away, it was impossible. It would haunt her even for days.
Such men as these lose no opportunity of showing their wives every kind attention. If they are affluent and keep a carriage, they may be seen driving out with one of the wives on every occasion. Their sleighs are the first out in the season. They are to be seen at nearly every public amusement. They attend all the balls, and dance only with their wives and other married ladies, except when compelled to do otherwise with their intimate acquaintances.
All this they do to try to make their wives happy and divert their thoughts from their secret sorrow. These poor men do not know that the very means which they take to destroy that feeling only excites it the more. A woman, as she receives these kindnesses, only loves her husband the better and wishes that she had all his love.
There is no possible happiness in Polygamy, even with such men. There can be none! And, therefore, the less love there is, the better are women able to bear it. Brigham knew it when he said in the Bowery some years ago that there should be no love; it was only a weakness. He understood the case perfectly."
This, it seems, was Fanny Stenhouse's firmest belief, and here there is a true divergence from both polyamory's creed (that "jealousy" can be overcome) and from other reports. Fanny acknowledges, for instance, that some Polygamous marriages were happy like, for instance:
"Many such cases of the sisters choosing husbands have occurred, and sometimes with very satisfactory results. When it is really a case of affection on the lady’s part, and the selected husband is a liberally disposed man, the affair goes off as well as any marriage of his own choosing; but when the arrangement is not an “affinity” affair, the lady receives very little attention, and often lives to repent of her choice."
Once again, it seems that at least one of the reasons for so much frustration was the great power difference between man and female.

On the other hand, when Ann-Eliza Young (idem, ch.31) pictures many of Brigham Young's wives their sorrow is sometimes a consequence of material conditions (slave work, lack of space for offspring, etc), other times neglect (Young had time mostly for his at-the-moment-favorite wife, so all the others were visited only very occasionally, is ever), other times jealousy. But jealousy doesn't seem to take the main part of the story, for instance:
"Eliza Burgess, though not the first, and never a favorite wife, used to be terribly exercised whenever Brigham added another to the family. She would go about, crying bitterly, for days, and would sometimes shut herself up in her room, refusing to see anyone. Her sorrow was the joke of the family, since no member of it could see what reason she had for indulging in it."
The unimportance of jealousy in Ann-Eliza depiction might, nevertheless, corroborate Fanny's view, because the most loving wife, the favorite, was in another house, and showed huge contempt for the other wives, and the first wife also lived in another house and seemed to had long ago abandoned all hope of loving or being loved by her husband.

So, in both cases, we can equate the intensity of love with the intensity of jealousness. Also, the existence of such strife between wifes of the same man seem to have existed in many other cases in history (see Daniel Ogden, Polygamy Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties). But, nevertheless, there is something peculiar and strikingly strange about jealousy. Let's take up again Fanny's insight that:
"A woman, as she receives these kindnesses, only loves her husband the better and wishes that she had all his love. [so increasing her secret sorrow]"
So, what we are saying is that the more love a woman feels toward a man, the more it will hurt her to know that he is also being equally kind and loving towards other women.

Now let's suppose we apply this same idea to children and their parents: so if my mother or father is very nice to me, they will be increasing my secret sorrow because I would wish to have all their love. Now this, for most people at least, would seem a case of unwarranted jealousy, and the same would happen if instead of siblings and their parents we would merely be talking about jealousy about friends. And the some could occur if a spouse would be jealous of the other spouse spending time with family or friends. It may happen, it does happen, but, in such cases we don't approve of such jealousy, why should marriage be different?

For instance, in the many cases of "sibling rivalry", if we do a search on the net, we will information on how to "How to Deal with and Stop Sibling Rivalry in your Home" with tips that would also make sense to a marriage with multiple partners. The advice goes in three directions:
  1. divide time and energy as fairly as possible
  2. avoid comparisons between them
  3. be "enchanted" / "in love" on a one-to-one basis
The first point is simple to understand, but the other two go more into the mysteries of love. What makes love so beautiful and rewarding? Sometimes we are loved as if we are the very center of the whole Universe for the other person. Everything we do is carefully watched, deeply felt and leaves an indelible mark in the person that loves us. We are the most important thing for that person, she might die for us, more importantly, she is probably living for me. And so I "dance" in her eyes, I shine, I laugh and talk and cry and everything I do is the most important thing to her. This, at least, was my experience with my mother, what I felt. It makes us feel safe, meaningful, wholesome. Whatever else may happen in life, this love alone is far sufficient to give my life meaning, and much more than that, radiance, happiness, joy beyond what words can express. Her smile and attention becomes more important than anything else in the world.

But what if someone else enters and becomes the focus of this "beam of love and beauty"?
"Remember those early days of parenting, where things were still somewhat foreign, and yet nothing could bring greater surprise than how insightful, curious, and investigative your child could be? It's not easy to give the same adoration to his or her uniqueness with the new division of time in your life. But even when it seems every second of your day is wrapped up in caring for your newest, try to remain a patron of your child's shared curiosity and inquisitiveness. Be sensitive to their feelings when they are excited to show you or tell you something. Engage them - share in their innocent wonder. It is a difficult balance, but an achievable one." (source)
The problem here is not just a division of time, it is more a question of the "looks" involved, the way the loved one sees me. If I'm not the center anymore, it's a fall, a big fall. And, "to remain a patron" is not the same thing as "adoration to his or her uniqueness".

To understand this better we must go into more detail into what a love relation is. First of all there must be some kind of reciprocity. If I am the center of attention of someone which I dislike, this will be embarrassing or worse for me. So this provides a first explanation: my mother watched everything I do and everything I do touches her deeply, so, if I love her back, I have a simple way, a power, to make her happy. I gain a goal in life (because I love her, I want to make her happy) and, at the same time, I have the power to achieve it (since my actions alone, it seems, have the power to make her smile and be happy).

However, even if love is necessary, it is not sufficient, because, if I loved someone else (a sibling, my father, etc), then I would just have to make that person happy to make her happy, but that's not at all what's typical in ceasing to be the center of attention. By the contrary, one feels neglect, abandonment. Why is that? Well, one of the reasons is that the other serves as a "mirror" to me, my mother's love tells me who I am, if I'm good, or bad, or marvelous or contemptible. In her representation of me I see myself "accurately" printed, I trust her judgment, I believe I am whatever she sees in me, I am what she sees in me (or so it seems at the time). Once that main mirror is directed somewhere else I don't know who I am anymore. Are my actions, my "dances", my creativity, my decisions and choices, going in the right or wrong direction? I'm lost, I don't anymore. Like in a foggy sea I can't see if I'm going nearer or closer to anything, I don't even know where I am anymore.

Although this experience might be typical of children who gain a sibling, it is not so typical of anyone who has very strong references, in our analogy, who has a strong main mirror from another source. That may be the case with religious people, but also with many other people who took their references from friends, politics, etc. For those people, in fact, the redirecting of attention from a loved one might be not so serious.

If we go back to Fanny Stonehouse's experience we may speculate that, had she a strong "testimony" of the LDS' faith, she may have seen the changes in her husband's affections in a much more dispassionate light, perhaps that's what "less love" meant for her and Brigham Young (in the passage above - love as weakness). On the other hand, it is immensely clear by her book that here is a woman with amazing confidence in values that, although they may transcend the LDS faith, are nevertheless strong enough to have guide her safely throughout her difficult life.

In fact, even through our own experience, it seems that there are other motives for jealousy that makes it appear even if someone has strong "references". In my view, just like I never found a good reason for sadism except the one derived from evolutionary theory (source), so I can only see "explanations" for many of feelings if we resort to our evolutionary past. In fact, it seems quite trivial that if a particular feeling of an individual, however absurd, created more of his/her offspring, than that feeling / "trait" would become more prevalent as the offspring that carried that feeling would expand over the ones that did not have it.

So, if we see human history, not just in terms of what happened in the last decade, century or few millennia, but instead look for hundreds of thousands of years, or even, if we can conceive it, to millions of years, it is fairly easy to see how jealousy might have arisen (like violence) since it is a feeling that gives its possessor a certain advantage in terms of number of offspring.

In fact, a non-jealous wife, for instance, will probably share the scarce resources of her family with all the other wives, whereas a jealous wife will try to kick out the other. In the cases where the jealous companion is successful she will be able to have more children and to give them more chances of getting them to reproduce more (by having more resources and, therefore, living longer and healthier). The same with violence and jealousy in men. And, beyond access to resources, a single wife may "control" a physically strong but permeable husband leading him to defend her interests and of her offspring, in fact, the ability of a female to control the mind and heart of a male may be very profitable for increasing the number of offspring.

Note that, just because something was selected to be in our genes it doesn't automatically mean that it is a "good" thing, we might see like a sort of a virus: something that, once it enters into the genes, will likely expand, although it creates misery and sorrow everywhere. And I think we're safe to assume that, although violence and jealousy do have a positive role in enhancing their possessors' number of offspring, they create a worse society, a society in which none of us would prefer to live, if we had the chance. I assume they are like "virus traits", they do expand, but they create worse conditions for everyone.

If this perspective is correct, then jealousy, like rage, anger, envy, etc, are traits that may have been useful in the past context where humankind evolved. But, today, with the emergence of a civilization where the patterns of evolution are based on culture and not on number of offspring (memes, not genes, are the center of evolution of a cultural species like man - they evolve much faster and with much bigger consequences) they are more an encumbrance than an advantage.

On the other hand, if this perspective is indeed correct, it means that, at least for many of us, there is no easy way out of jealousy: we are "hard-wired" into it, just like we're hard wired into violence, having frontiers, liking sex, creating hierarchies, having fears and insecto-phobia, loving to eat fat and sugar in huge quantities and many other things that were great in the past but not so good today.

So, how can we deal with jealousy? Well, first of all we have to want to deal with it. To want that we must be sure we are in healthy relationship where we are truly cared about, unconditionally loved, where there is honesty and respect, equality and so on. Only in that context can we really healthily relinquish jealousy. In other contexts we may be simply trampled upon. And no one likes to suffer and be destroyed, or, if they do, they might be better ways to accomplish that, without the neglect that comes from abandonment.

So, once we are in that healthy relationship a new world comes from, a world where even new words appear:
"Dr Barker, from London's South Bank University, conducted a study of the language of polyamory which she presented at the British Psychological Society's annual conference at the University of Manchester.
"If you're not following the standard way of having relationships you have to make up new words," she said. "We have emotional states that cannot be described using normal language."
For example, "metamor" describes the relationship one has with one's partner's other partner. Then there is the concept of "new relationship energy" (NRE) - the "honeymoon period". This is especially important for polyamorists who have to overcome natural feelings of jealousy.
"Your partner might be wild about a new relationship, and it's not particularly easy to handle, but because it's got a name, NRE, it's easier to deal with," said Dr Barker.
Polyamorists also have a word for low-key jealousy - "wibble".
"It's a kind of jealousy that doesn't represent a massive sexual threat; it's a smaller version of jealousy," said Dr Barker. "You can say 'I'm wibbly' - I'm really OK but a bit shaky, and I need some reassurance."
Another is "frubbly", which describes the positive feeling of seeing your partner with another lover. "It's the opposite of jealousy," Dr Barker said." (source)
To embark on this new trip one may need more than readings. In my case, even these kinds of readings take me more time and energy than I have available, and in any case society is changing. A book, which I didn't read yet, but which is helping that change is The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy.

However we may live, in what kinds of relationships, it is essential that we feel the freedom to express ourselves, both within and to others, along with the ability to listen attentively to others and understand them, ourselves and the world we live in. Due to our finite character and the infinite complexity and sheer size of the world we live in, we will certainly never achieve a perfect understanding, but the world is so full of wonderful dazzlement, (including ourselves and others) that it is simply amazing to look further and further, to see each new detail in the vast, unimaginable picture, that the whole universe is.

The polygamy practiced by the LDS in that early period had the same defect that in most other cultures (source) : it was based on oppression. The secret of happiness, in my view, is not how we live but how truthfully we live, express ourselves, accept what we know, what we feel, and what we don't know but are willing to try and find out, and engage ourselves in the fulfillment of our deepest dreams. Whenever there is truth and love in a relation, the journey seems worth it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ways of watching sport

"Sport sets up artificial, pointless contests, making the competitors push themselves to their limits. But doing so leads to the instantiation of aesthetic value: human bodies fully-extended, graceful style, intricate tactics, and real drama." (Stephen Mumford: source)

There is a certain intuitive appeal in seeing life the same way, perhaps we're all just works of art in the making!

Sometimes not giving up is loosing

First of all we have to know what is essential, and what is not.

Then we have to be able to be able to focus and pursuit the essential.

And that already takes a whole life.

Of course, we need some distractions too, to have fun, to meet people, to laugh and sing and make absurd things, and to remember that everything is a bit absurd. At least in the perspective of one who knows nothing.

But even so there is a kind of step of magic that allows us to distinguish between what's essential and not. It's different for each one of us. It's what makes us feel fulfilled, flowering, growing.

In sum, it is putting our will outside. Fulfilling it and see what happens, how reality responds.

But many times, like a fish caught in a net, we "want" something. We feel bad if we don't have it. And so we go after it and we can go for the longest time.

Meanwhile, our heart is beating somewhere else, or perhaps completely asleep, dreaming dreams far away from our consciousness, but that, nevertheless, are part of our most inner being.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Communion / Communication

To be here as a light from beyond

(a possible way to live)

I only have questions

Life is complicated.

So much so that it seems nobody has ever got it completely. We do understand part of what's going on, but we don't really know the measure of what escape us.

And in the midst of all this ignorance, we have to go about making choices. For instance, to destroy in order to create. To destroy an apple, an illusion, a white page, in order to create some more red cells, a conjecture, music.

If I had to decide being born, would I?

Knowing that so much would be destroyed in order for me to exist?

But I am just another rolling grain of sand living in a much bigger grain of sand in the vastness of the world (universe). I am just another part of life, a speck, just like the specks being destroyed in order for me to continue. I'm not sure of what's good or bad, of who I am or even if I am anything at all. Perhaps Budhists are right and the I is nothing but illusion, we are perhaps, truly, "nothingness" as they say. But I would be very surprised that any person has unravelled the mysteries of the universe. In fact, budhists, in their behavior, seem just like ordinary man, perhaps with different abilities (meditation, etc) just like a musician or anyone else.

In the vastness of this cosmic soup it doesn't seem terribly important if it's me or the tiger that survives. But for me it is. It is, in fact, in my perspective, one of the most important questions in existence. And I don't know the answer to that. In fact, I only have questions.

The only thing I know for sure is that there are things which I don't know. And it seems to me that these things are huge, both in quantity, complexity and meaning.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I will never be found

I have never been found.
Some people believe that I am just a set of nerve cells, or some other bodily set of things.
Other people believe that we have souls.
Still other might believe that I am dream in their imagination.
But no one can pin point my exact location.
They can know which part of me is necessary for me to speak, to perceive visual objects.  If they take away certain of my brain I will not be able to do certain things.
Animals have been experimented, widely, and we know all sorts of things about brain functioning. If it were not for the Nazis loosing the war I'm sure they'd be plenty of subhumans to make even more experiments. As it is, we restricted the set of conscious beings to which we are prepared to inflict unimaginable suffering.

Humanity... oh well...

Other people say it is possible to find me. It is like finding the "court" in the physical building. It's a mix-up they say. One thing is the building, another is the logical entity. It cannot be found in the building for it is an entirely different thing.

However, these people are speaking about the person Pedro. Whereas I'm speaking about the consciousness Pedro. The person Pedro, who has plenty of attributes, could eventually be re-enacted in some other point and time in the universe. Perhaps someone who had studied me very well could make an indistinguishable replica of me. So the person Pedro can be cloned, replicated, destroyed in many ways, rebuilt in many ways, combined and recombined an innumerable amount of times.

But I am aware, I am conscious, and that eye of the mind, the I of the mind, does not seem to change much through my personality changes. The act of will, the freedom I feel inside, may be annihilated by strong impulses, desires or simple "hormonal unbalances". But whenever it exists it is kind of a "light", an inner light, so much spoke of in less knowledgeable kinds of literature. And this does not seem to change.

Where does creativity come from? Where do thoughts come from? Where does love come from? And that immense sense of beauty when we look at the universe around us?

Of course, there are billions of well-thought out explanations about the mechanisms that brought us to what we are. But I am not speaking about that.

I am speaking about consciousness itself, which, as far as I know, no one was able to properly define (quite contrary to England's courts).

Perhaps it is here. Perhaps it is somewhere in my brain. Perhaps.

Syd Barret once wrote

"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here 
And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear 
That I'm not here"

Well, I never got to that point. I don't know if "I'm here" or not. I'm not even sure about what that would mean. Perhaps it means we are free to travel anywhere, as long as we don't feel trapped, an indissociable part, in this world. Perhaps it is just a metaphor for "don't believe and you will see the immense abilities of the psychedelic mind".

Whatever it means, however, I would like to add to it a further piece of gibberish: Perhaps I don't belong here, but, since I am, in fact, here, perhaps I am really somewhere between nowhere and everywhere, and, "therefore" (had this made any sense) I AM also here.

Power over nothing

Power... the eternal struggle of the monkey (especially the male).

We see all through those glasses: we see all life as a struggle to power.

Look at all the species, the better are the stronger, the best predator, grass, trees, snails... oh! so immensely powerful. How wish to be the apex predator.

Obviously, apex predators are far from being very successful in the story of our planet. If we look around what we see is cooperation and differentiation. Cells gave rise to sets of cells, which gave rise to all sorts of organisms, some with different organs, etc. Plants are one of the most successful kind of organisms, they are not "powerful" in the sense of the growling monkey with lots of females and submissive allies. They don't have even the concept of territory, they don't go to war.

How many species, successful species, have frontiers, go to war, mistreat even the females?

We long for power, that's where we came from, that is our inheritance. Had we come more from bonobos we would have a whole different kind of civilization.

But we are martial. We crave for power...

And although we can easily understand why (because gestation times are very prolonged, so if a male fights for the control of many females his genes will be more spread out in the long run, which leads to a preponderance on that kind of violent disposition) it is also very easy to see that such a disposition can never lead to very technologically advanced societies.

If you get a bunch of animals all trying to enhance their frontiers, they will tend to use their assassin powers on "the enemy". As technology evolves so does the means of mass murder. So it is simply a matter of time between we destroy a large part of what is now humanity.

The good news is: there's still at least a thousand more million years before Earth becomes to hot for life (our sun is getting brighter). In that time, just as life as previously developed photosynthesis, through all forms of organisms, so life will develop increasingly more expanded minds. We discovered symbolic language. We were able to speak it, then to write it, now to digitize it.

We have created many images of Gods. We are very slowly on a path to become like those that we describe.

So, even if our killing instincts use our technology to destroy ourselves, in the long run, those genes will be less frequent. Precisely for the same reasons that they were selected before: there are others better equipped to survive in the long run.

Beauty, cooperation, integration, sharing, love... are other qualities that will work much better now.  The more advanced the technology, the more advanced must the "heart" be, so that we can direct ourselves to the goals that truly bring us happiness and ecstasy.

Of course, many of us think that power is the best way for ecstasy and pleasure.

But what do you control really? If you have a slave, who is your slave? What dreams, aspirations, creativity, everything that makes one beautiful... what does he / she have? In the measure he / she is a slave, there will be nothing of that, just a willingness to obey every order, to fulfill every one of your desires.

By creating slaves you surround yourself with misery, with hollow specters, with adulators and parasites. You will become alone.

You have power over nothing really...

The world, out there, is much more beautiful, even the simple waves and the sea, have a music that escapes you, surrounded, as you are, in the prison of your own crusade for glory.

Loose yourself, understand that there is nothing over which you are powerful. You can die at any moment, you don't even know why you live, or what life is. You have control over nothing really, not even your self. You are a perfect unknown.

Look at the world outside...
it's full of mysteries... no one really understands it...

come... let's explore it, together, among all things of which we are part...

like brothers, like parts of a gigantic whole which we are just beginning to understand...

let's LIVE