vineri, 17 septembrie 2010


Imagined by Thomas More as a place situated on the southen hemisphere, this Utopia(Not-place) is a model of a republic conducted by people for the service of community. Surely such an administrative organization could have only be put on a far away realm, for the action and time of More's writing of Utopia is in the XVI-th century (1516). Especially if one's to think that England in which he lived was confronted with a tyranny, and most of the people faced poverty and starvation.

A character arrives from far away, called Raphael Nonsenso,with the knowledge of this system of organization that offers a relief for poverty and manages to include every member of society to work for the community, thus ensuring that all have something to do, a trade, and that everybody gets his/her share of food and whatever things they found necessary. This republic doens't care much for individual interest, money have no intrinsic value, they're kept only to be used in time of war-to hire mercenaries from other countries. The social life seems one to encourage intellectual growth and continuous learning. But if one's to look deeper it will find that all this learning and growing isn't done for the individual, because the individual is merely an instrument of society. Although there is a community which seem to act as a regulator for behavior, ensuring that everyone behaves properly, it seem that in their world too this proper behavior is dictated by the King, Mayor, District controller, House responsible and so on, until everybody is fitted into the mould of a good Utopian.

It seems no place in which women are regarded as equal to men, or in which they regard the ill or mentally deficient more humanly(for they amuse themselves at their behavior). There's no place for individuality, for private thought, private time, everything has to be done with the purpose of making some good to the community. They have a justice system that seems to be efficient: if one does any wrong it is sent to slavery and has to put up with the toughest jobs and if that person shows signs of repent he/she can be granted a pardon and receive their freedom back. Although a freedom is used to express a stat in which you are free to do any good from which the community might benefit, it isn't actually a freedom of action as we might consider it, it is merely a way in which the person fits the mould.

An idea of happiness is used there that encompass a state of health, psychological well being and a continuous use for one's intelligence. The community might seem willing to take care of everyone, but when people get old or they are very ill, the priest offers them an alternative- euthanasia- to relieve their suffering. If one chooses this alternative that person is viewed with great esteem by others, because he/she knew when to part with this world. Considering that all behavior is done under the eye of everyone else, I think that this practice might have been a common norm rather than an actual choice.

Although this imaginary republic might have solved many problems which seem unsolvable-like poverty, starvation, unemployment- the sense of no private life compels me to think it might not be the perfect society for me, or one in which I'd feel happy or free. In a way even in Utopia important issue are taken care of by a handful of people, just like in our days. It might appear at a first glance that there might be more transparency there than here, because the leaders can't retain fortunes for their private interest, I'm well too aware that even if fortune might seem a good incentive to loose morality in order to obtain it, when you can dictate a way of behavior for an entire society- that to me seems to surpass the power fortune might give- you have the incentive to propagate a certain code which cannot be attacked because everyone presumes it's for the good of community.

The ideas which can be debated are numerous, and I might make some mistakes trying to put them out here without a proper consideration, but they do need to be discussed. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that.

miercuri, 15 septembrie 2010

"Intoarcerea din rai"/The return from heaven

There must be indeed some law, a great attractor which pulls all the information towards the user. Or so it seems for me, judging by the books I read.

Mircea Eliade's novel is just a piece of the information my strange attractor brings me(according to my view of the chaos theory).

A society in change is usually a theme meant to reiterate itself, always new and yet in a different light. That's the way I perceived the society presented in the book. The intellectuals of the 1933-1934 period in Romania. The problems might be different, the communist riots were on the verge of breaking out(and one did happen) and now after almost 80 years we are struggling to change communist mentalities and to bring back a new sense of morality and perhaps to renew some lost values. The characters present their philosophical interrogations regarding their life purpose, and even if the social context might be change, the question still remain.

What is one's goal, ideal for his/her life? Is there a superior way in which to live, create, work? All these are themes that are present in every character's mind. The way the monologues are written reveal this pursuit of a meaning to life throughout the book.

One might think that these intellectuals are all selfish, each and everyone trying to realize goals of their one,trying to make a new start disregarding their families, their roots, only to discover in the end that you cannot live life on an intellectual realm, that you must transcend to life by embracing some concrete responsibilities. Each character becomes entrapped in a mesh of everyday problems and change occurs with or without them noticing. They change their ideals, seeing things more nuanced.

Only one character Paul Anicet chooses to suicide being thorn between a love for two women, realizing that he could not make himself be free, in the sense of freedom of thought and action that he wants. It's an selfish act, and one that betrays an pursuit for a unity that he thinks can only be found in death.

All in all it is a book about the meaning on creating a life, an pursuit for superior ideals, and the confront with the reality. It is indeed a book that can be found relevant for everyone who wants to create a path of development and growth that could best construct an individual's purpose, meaning to all it's actions.

Perhaps if there is a meaning which can be used to justify one's actions a sense of congruence is achieved(a congruence with one's goal, purpose).

vineri, 10 septembrie 2010

Fire in the Mind- Science, Faith and the Search for Order

George Johnson provides a stimulating book that has given me some stimulating ideas to think of. A complex and intelligible way in which theories from physics, computational theory, biology and evolution are mixed together to form a part of something that is a trademark for the scientist working in the 90's.

It was a great way for me to finally get a hold of some concepts from string theory in physics and quantum mechanics. Hoping that my understanding got deeper than before it did shift my perception of what I knew about the world around me. Theories evolve and develop themselves through the work of scientist, and scientist are in a way form by the theories they work with so it might seem hard to try to shift the view the theory gives you just to try to make better sense of things using a different "looking glass". But this is exactly what the book is all about(as it seemed to my Iguse- information gatherer and using system).

The try to make sense and predict the events happening is a endeavor that has kept our human minds busy since the dawn of consciousness. Maybe it's only an artifact of human culture and the anthropic environment in which humans engulf themselves, but it's obvious from the work in fields like anthropology,history and psychology, that the drive for knowledge and a sense of meaning to the world is what defines our species. In order to make sense we construct laws which help explain most of the events, and we try to make predictions using the knowledge we gain through using these laws. But events often seem random and sense if given to subjective state, or random condition so the meaning is in a way superstitious, attributed to things or behaviors particular to every individual.

What happens when somebody doesn't seem to see through this intricate web of everyday events? An answer is that that certain person might choose to use system of navigating through the mesh of events designed by other. Some of the most basic forms of ensuring an order is by using superstitious rituals, and afterwards using some more elaborate rituals, like those performed at religious gatherings. But whatever the form in which these systems are used they too represent compressions of the knowledge of the world.

And so it appears that there are more ways in which compressions about the world can be made and the understanding of the events can be achieved. The part in which science as a system of beliefs is superior to religion is that it always try to improve it's theories, testing them using instruments, whereas religion, as a system of beliefs works more on personal revelations alongside with those of other more illustrious people.

My favorite quote of the book is actually an reiteration of Murray Gell-Mann's words about compressions of the world around us: "when you don't see compressions that are there, that is denial; when you see compressions that don't exist, that is superstition." I strive to achieve understanding of the theories regarding life so that my personal area of compression that don't exist and are perceived by me is narrowed.

Then again, who knows what is the definition of existence? It's up to the community of scientists to define a standard of what can be seen as a part of the realm of existence and what is not.

Let's hope that we don't just invent machines that measure what are intent to measure and we will be able to shift the perspective every so often as it is needed to expand the knowledge and not to disregard things and events which might actually be happening but outside the reach of our designed instruments of perception and recording.