The Beauty of Time

Originally version written on December 28th 2005

It feels like it was only yesterday...It seems that there is no escape from the passage of time...time heals all wounds, yet a wound needs time to be born. All things bad will, eventually turn into good...however, all good things come, with time, to an end. Time flows too fast...suddenly you stop seeing the one you'd love to see first in the morning, last at night...When will you see that smile again? No one knows...yet thinking about it brings uneasiness which resonates and amplifies, shaking and rendering you useless...Does time flow to our advantage? It was needed to bring us to this world, yet it pushes us constantly to an inevitable end...Because I exist in time; it brought me up and soon will erode me. We exist in time; it brought us together and someday will break us apart. We are only given instances; can we savour them, love the people with whom we share them ... do good with them, so that we can say we haven't been wasteful?

The Absolute and Personal Value

Please read this first.

If when scrutinized by the absolute, nothing has real value, because it is merely a subset of a more essential structure, then where does that put us, as persons on a ranking of values? Consider the following: we live in a deeply subjective reality, within which we can barely control anything. Even our minds and bodies we have limited control over. Try not going to sleep for a week. Better yet, try not feeling tired while doing it. It could be possible, but the chances are you will not be able to do it. Our minds are bodies are systems partially independent of our will. If you think mind and will are the same, try not thinking anything for a minute or two.

The pertinent question is how important are we then? To resolve this issue, we should take a look at what personal importance. We can readily conceive that 1) we are important to ourselves and 2) that we are important to some other people. Both types of importance are equally flimsy structures. First of all, real value does not lie in the subjective realm, so we can easily eliminate number 2. If the importance other people gave us had any real value (note: value is a characteristic an adequate structure) then we would never be confronted with losing that importance. Besides, how many times people became important for no good reason? Think presidents... Similarly, if our own self-importance was a well constructed structure, then nobody would ever have depressive and/or suicidal thoughts. Besides, both types of importance are imposed on our thinking. Most of us didn't go through any thought process to establish their own importance or that of just comes to be. That's another way of saying that the construct hasn't been made for any real good reason.

We are the center of our own universe, since we are the center of our own perception and thought; fortunately we can at least hope to think beyond ourselves. Our existence is flimsy and temporal, our minds are usually erroneous, we do not actually own our bodies or identities, our importance is given or taken by others, and even when it's given to us, it still lacks value. Compared to the world we are insignificant. When we cease to exist the world will just move on as if we never existed. When we're in pain, there aren't many people who actually care, and similarly, there aren't many people we care for their pain. We, and them, are insignificant. If that wasn't true, then we would be living better lives, but we don't. Our minds are subjective. We are tied to a skewed reality, altered both by our perception systems and the interpretation methods, stuck inside a small, tiny body. If our minds were significant, then we would be objective. If we were actually significant, then we would never hurt or cease to exist. But we aren't and we need to come to terms with that.

In any case, compared to the Absolute, nothing has real value. But the question is where do we stand on a rank of values? We are certainly not the second most important thing after the absolute, but we cannot conceive the second most valuable structure without some subjectivity. This creates a relationship between our own construction and that which ranks second. Personal value can't be the second since there can't be any without a society. If i was the only one in existence, there wouldn't be any reason to think of personal value, nor anybody to give me any importance. Being conditioned by our human nature, the second most important thing should be this: The relationships we form with our fellow humans and environment. At this level we still remain insignificant, but at least we can derive some direction into what we can put effort into. The most important thing we can do is treat ourselves, each other and our hosting environment with respect and dignity.

Architectural Insights - Part 1

It's a very important question: why do we build? While we can come up with a myriad of answers, such as to have a home, or a place to gather, raising the inventory of our property, etc., it still misses the essence to some extent. We build, I think, primarily out of a physical consideration. Bluntly put, main reason for building = shelter. Architecture is necessary because of our physicality, which acts in an environment where it can be threatened by many dangers, and discomforts, from bad weather to wild animals to other humans, therefore we need to create an environment where it is possible to avoid as much as we can the ruining of our own bodies. In this sense architecture is a tool is aimed, or should be, to fulfil the condition of protecting, and somehow caressing, the users. It doesn't take much. However, if that basic condition is not fulfilled in a building, as in the built object does not allow for any level of liveability, as crude as it may be (like a primitive shed), then it cannot be called architecture.

Without its users, architecture is meaningless. This is probably the first thought that should enter a designer's head when drawing the plans for any building. Considerations such as art, economics, style, etc are ultimately less important than the way the users, and their needs, are addressed. From this perspective, ego is the most incompatible characteristic of an architect; their responsibility is to think about the people who will inhabit that building. If someone cannot think further than his ego, cannot have a basic compassion for his fellow humans, and does not care if their building, or part of it, affects the users in a negative matter, but apologises with considerations such as originality, personal style, etc then maybe they should not be professing architecture.

The Absolute. The ranking of Value

Strangely enough, even though we live in a highly subjective reality, where our perceptions are altered first by our standing point within time-space, the nature of our senses, our own internal interpretation of those sense, and lastly by the semantic environment that attaches meaning to each perception, despite all that we can still think of relativity. We intuit it; "It depends". Our existence, as far as we can prove it, is within a four dimensional (at least) objective framework, a unique unmoving and unchanging background that allows for all the variations of our reality. This background is not necessarily "something", but rather a set of rules that create entities and dictate their interaction. We know for a fact how reliable the laws of our universe (the simplified versions which we discovered so far) are very reliable, and this forms only a primitive proof of the existence of an objective background. In fact, without it I imagine there would be only chaos, randomness.

This is only a glimpse into the nature of Absolute, which I define as a non-relational, non-shifting concept, towards which everything can be refrenced but cannot be referenced to anything. This of course, only a much abbreviated definition, but for clarity and simplicity, we don't need to elaborate further. If the existence of this Absolute is true, then it follows that everything is constructed upon it, meaning the Absolute has ultimate value, since it is the essence of all other things. If we take a deeply essentialist approach, we might say that the Absolute has ultimate value, and no other things have value, which is on its own not a very useful concept. However, once we start playing with degrees of scrutiny, the essentialist approach allows for a ranking of values.


Life’s moods a sinuous wave.

It's quite odd how we shift from one mood to the other, sometimes instantaneously, some other over a larger period of time. Perhaps even more intriguing are the triggers, the said reasons, of that mood shift, which we don't always realise they have been acting on us, or that they have been gathering into a swarm to for a good reason for the shift. It is always much easier to be neither sad nor happy, in a somewhat a neutral state with a tiny bit of flavour of either, since it requires the least amount of concentration and emotional self-evaluation. Yet that state I find to be rather fragile, and easily overturned, often without much power of protest, into either sadness or happiness. Note that here I use happiness and sadness as categories of emotions.

Personally, I believe there is no real value to emotions, with value understood as a characteristic of an adequately constructed entity, on solid foundations and for good reasons, since they are merely the psycho-physical manifestation of subjectivity. The reasons for our sadness or happiness could be a largely misinterpreted situation, a semantic error, or just a surge of a certain kind of neurotransmitter, which do gives us real experiences, but the nature of that experience lies in the space of our own imagination, without any real concrete existence, thus implying that we are making ourselves, even if involuntarily, feel a certain way, but without a adequate reason. This goes to say that emotions are not either based on solid foundations, nor are constructed for good reasons, therefore they have no real value.

This gives way to the sinuous nature of the shift of moods, from one extreme to the other, first because the previous mood was not adequately constructed, thus flimsy, and second because we do not construct the replacement with much scrutiny. For example, someone is being sad because they broke up with their lover, and while following the news sees how people in another country struggling with some sort of disease or disaster, and suddenly feels lucky to be alive and not in that country at this time, and thinks that it's not worth being sad, because life is too short. Two hours later that person would be sad again thinking of their misfortune with regards to their lover.

I won't argue that there is no use to emotions; clearly they are probably the sole reason the world is spinning.

Pre-Logical Evaluation

Ideas come and go, but when you focus on one you start linking it to other bits of info and concepts, thus constructing a complex entity of interrelations; the idea itself becomes the system of relations between other ideas. Evaluating such a construct is not always easy, and usually the complexity of the evaluation process is of a higher order than that of the idea. While I do not want to go into detail about the nature of the evaluation process, I wish to forward a type of evaluating criteria: introspection. 

Not all ideas, or arguments, can be scrutinized through the rules of logic; there will always be that very human step over the calculable dimension of “if then”. What I’m talking about is the mind’s unique ability to understand and comprehend, a process resulting in a sum that is larger than its parts. There will always be a line of reasoning, but sometimes how you get from one step to the other is not always clear. Until this day we do not know exactly how the mind works. But you can introspect into the workings of your own mind. 

Whatever conscious process you use to arrive at a conclusion, or construct an idea, it is possible to trace it, and get a feeling of your own system of reasoning. Of course, the system is not always stable; if at all, only relatively. But when you get somewhat of a good grasp of it, you can then scrutinize and evaluate it. The underlying idea is that if you detect an error in the way your mind works to reason out something, then you can assume that your conclusion might be wrong. It is not always easy to do the above, but it’s possible, and can prove to be an invaluable tool. I personally prefer to use this sort of approach pre logical evaluation, by that I mean before I start using formal logical tools, the ifs and thens, to evaluate the structure of an argument. 

Why blog?

There is always something ephemeral about our thoughts. Our brains seem to work through a system of neural interconnections, and that system is highly vulnerable; drugs, alcohol and like substances alter the way our brain works by impairment, which only goes to show how deeply unreliable our thought process, and mind is. However, the mind is one great tool and has helped us overcome many obstacles, to achieve goals, good or bad, and for that reason, despite its inherent flaws, is worth cherishing.

I suppose a blog could be a sort of tribute to the history of a mental process, something to remind us of what we used to think at a certain point in time; also an introspective analytical tool, allowing us to rediscover ourselves after we forgot how we were, and create a sort of chain-understanding of our own ephemerality. This blog is about recording glimpses of a mental reality that I construct and destroy each day, a process starting when I revitalize after a dream until I succumb to the next, in other words, the result of my own self-awareness, consciousness and knowledge.

While it is implausible to record each thought that occurs throughout the day, it is possible to assign a rank of importance to each, even if it’s a relative ranking. By only focusing on those thoughts of higher importance, this record should become a collection of “wisdom nuggets”, an abbreviated summary of my own knowledge and reality. It is important to have a record of oneself, especially if this record is aimed at the composition of a complex chain of interrelated, internalised thoughts, for the purpose of later introspection, analysis and simplicity of retrieval. 

Secondly, using this format, I am exposing my inner thoughts to scrutiny by others, which has a few merits, most important of which is the evaluation of the structure, coherence and validity of those thoughts, and escaping the dangers of getting trapped in a rigid introverted vortex of circular thinking. 

Thirdly, if there are any merits to my thoughts, their exposure would at least be an attempt to diffuse those merits into the wider public; nothing is more eternal than a good idea, and if by any chance this mind of mine can come across one such idea, then its diffusion and embracement by the others secures its usefulness beyond the time boundary of my mind and, indeed, body. 

This is only a limited list of how I find a blog rather useful, and I have decided to mention these because I feel it is the upper most part on the importance ranking. Of course, it’s a personal belief. Please feel free to add your main arguments for the usefulness of a Blog.