Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who You Left Behind

I can’t do this thing alone. If there is anything I have learned in sixty four years on the planet it is that. I simply cannot subscribe to a philosophy that tells me to revere individualism, rugged or otherwise. If I wander in my own mind alone, I have entered a bad neighborhood, so I have relied through the years on trusted guides, whether in books or in classrooms, at homes or in gatherings.

I really resist advice. I doubt that people have enough wisdom to lead me directly. I also doubt, have learned to doubt my own direct vision…it is too full of my own prejudice. This is like scientists who know that what they call objective vision relies on a set of specific procedures, tools, and on peer review, which includes agreement through repeated results. I get a result. Then you repeat and get the same result. In this agreement we begin to trust the result. That is why when they say certain things scientists have credibility. They should be trusted. The procedures are reliable, time tested. I too can appeal to the procedures. But not when they say other things.

So I resist advice, but I do not resist certain procedures I have tested for myself and put in my life.

Here is one. I open. I ask of my world in openness. I become alert. I don the garb of the hunter in a certain sense of patience. I make certain gestures, knowing that while sincere, they are inadequate, ill framed, of themselves not useful. I also know that they change things and that in the changes there will appear situations or items that are useful. This is like the hunter flushing game. Then I trust this as true and turn into the skid at that moment, follow what rose up.

This procedure has held me in good stead. I got sober this way. It led to 12 steps and eventually a way to take all 12 steps. I got a career this way, a wife this way, Oregon this way. I started blogging like this. Now I have searched for healing like this, keeping the gestures in place (this must be, because I gestured in good faith and integrity demands follow through), but mainly following the path that has risen before me.

In this way, I am not alone but in dialogue with my world.

If I were alone on the path I could not run for long. If I were alone on the path, if I had to stop, I would wither. Sometimes on the path I do have to stop and watch the pacesetter disappear in the distance. Then the wolves nearby had better be my friends. Otherwise I am lost.

Who You Left Behind

Running the long path,
you outpace me, the others
who also race on.

I call for you, Wait,
I call, but you are steady
with a graceful lope.

Winded, the wolves halt,
turn yellow eyes to question
me as I stop too.

February 26, 2009 9:08 PM


  1. Nice post!

    I'm not a big fan of positivist/scientific maxims myself. I wonder how many stop to ask about themselves when they aspire to objectivity. Was there not a human body, with its own biases and particularity relation to time, space, and others present when the experiment took place? I have a post you might like on this from about a year ago:

    Also, liked your poem a lot. I thought it took up the narrative that preceded and then embodied it. Nicely done...

  2. Ooooh.

    I relate very much to this.

    I can feel the yellow eyes on my back at the moment and am just seeing where living in my head can take me. Somewhere where the wolves say they are my friends, and I believe them.

    Time to Step up I think.

    Enlightening stuff.....frightening too.


  3. Exactly, Jon. Some scientists take the rules of the game of scientific objectivity and overstep when they say if the scientific method is so superbly effective then it must be absolutely true such that anything that does not fit within the rules of the game either does not exist, is absurd, or is inconsequential.

    There is already one degree of proof (Godel's Theorem) that any system strong enough that it tends to completeness is already proved incomplete because there are statements of self reference that can be made but not proved in the system. In other words, when science tries to say it is complete this completeness cannot be proved inside science.

    In short all systems of sufficient power are finite in this and other unknown ways and cannot completely describe an indeterminate plenum with certainty. This does not prove that the positivists are wrong. It says they overstep their bounds trying to say they have described the whole of the cosmos, which includes science.

    Unfortunately, this also holds for all religious systems and for language itself insofar it is descriptive of the world. They may or may not be right. They are necessarily incomplete and thus not provable as right because some possibilities are necessarily framed outside the systems.

    This may be over all your heads. It is, however, one keystone of my thought. If you want to learn about this and how important it is, I refer you to a wonderful book, Godel, Escher, Bach, An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.

  4. Hi again Christopher,

    I like the comment you left on the hermeneutics post and the point you make about provisionality. It's all provisional, no?

    And about Hofstadter... I would recommend his book, Metamagical Themas, as well. He's got some amazing articles in there on self-referential sentences, poetry, mathematics, and music (weird mix, I know). But I would drop the caution that Hofstadter is also a structuralist, and also seeks an underlying code or logos, is also a bit positivistic. You might want to bump into Derrida or Kristeva to get a taste of the criticisms of structuralist beliefs... though as you pointed out in the post on hermeneutics, maybe then we'd have to throw away the computers!


  5. Jon, my point is as most scientist in the trenches know very well, that science works perfectly fine without philosophy and we only get into this trouble if we insist on taking a procedure and turning it into a philosophy. I stand where I do as a technician in engineering where I know quite a lot about application and hardly ever need to philosophize. The same is true in most labs, even those like the lab at CERN.

    I have no trouble calling positivistic shitheads exactly that. They overstep. That is why they are shitheads.

  6. Ha! Good point... that takes the cake. But I do think that you philosophize quite well. And I'd imagine that it would make you a better engineer.

    Take care friend. I'll catch up with you again soon.

  7. Jon, actually I am considered tiresome. I can't help myself. I philosophize at the drop of a hat, took a degree in Phil/Psych. What happens, philosophy takes time that is time wasted in terms of the work. As a mech. designer I am good at what I do, but I do it too slow because I have to think too much to do my job. Philosophy gets in the way quite as much in egineering as I am making the point about science. If you want to do science, philosophy may get in the way. That is the consensus opinion in science actually.

    Just as in politics, there is a vocal scientific minority that take the positivist position. There are also scientists like Fritjof Capra and Wheeler and Toben and many others who take a spiritual position of one kind or another. There are scientists who are practicing Christians. Why would you whitewash the community with the loudmouthed minority?

    I know people who believe most scientists are outspoken positivists. I believe that most scientists are not strong positivists. It is certainly true in engineering. I know fundamentalist Christian engineers.

  8. i always like to seek the absolute knowledge of the thing-in-itself as if i wasn't there. it keeps me busy.

  9. Michelle, you are my cupcake,
    My only cupcake, you make me happy
    When skys are gray.
    I only know dear, how much I love you.
    Oh please don't take my cupcake awayyyy. *sung to the old American cowboy tune, You are my Sunshine*

    I don't know. What you said reminded me of our discussion of a few days ago. Colton H. Bryant. It specifically came from when you wrote, "Time to Step up." Cowboy up, cupcake. :)

    Ghost, The Ding An Sich is notorious for keeping one busy as if not there. Kant went to heroic lengths and I know you are no slouch in the hero deportment, especially when you are not there, of pure ectoplasmic essence, as it were, truly wraithful, remotely heated, glowing faintly neon green in the philological limits as if detouched but not debauched, 99.8% danse contradictorio y maroon, 0.2%in the magus key.

    I am Asia without you.

    I knew a guy once, wore a ball cap, read across the front, "Rat Poison". It was disconcreting. I let him faint my car. Believe me, I love you, my fiend.

    How'm I doing? I hope I passed the audition. - after John "Ringo" Lemon, famed schlock starr.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!