Friday, April 30, 2004

This may be esoteric or pointless but I got stuck in a trail of thought one night and ended up with an obvious but personally inspiring conclusion. This is long but writing it help settle a bit of silt in my mind. It is writing for me, not necessarily for anyone passing though. A new purpose for my swampy bogspot!

There is a line of thinking that says that there is such a thing as fate. That is, that there are quite strong elements of pre-determination in life, if not total pre-determination. For example, any decision you make is due to the experiences you have had and the circumstances beyond you. Are you not just doing what all the pre-conditions say you will do? You were always going to have the experiences you had because of the situations that preceded it. Even when you feel like you are making a random choice, the number might just be the number that your brain would choose if it had to. Last night, I did try to think of a random number and suddenly thought "132"... which after a moments thought realised was just a number that was raised earlier that night.

Why am I yapping on about this?

I just read in a book of apparent fiction:

"These people (Australian Aborigines) believe everything exists on this planet for a reason. Everything has a purpose. There are no freaks, misfits, or accidents. There are only misunderstandings and mysteries not yet revealed to mortal man."

I thought this was rather interesting and wanted to think about it but it was late and I was in need of sleep. When I tried to sleep, my mind returned to this discussion.

The section of the book contrasted with something James said to me in an e-mail:

"If everything is predetermined, then it gives me an empty feeling about life and existence. How meaningful is anything you do, if you were predestined to do it anyway?"

Pre-determination hits upon all sorts of raw nerves. “Judge, I was always going to steal that car, circumstances meant that it was always ever going to be my only reasonable choice with respect to my state of mind, my past experiences, the air temperature and an a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil”

So, it damages faith in real freedom, meaning and other issues, as illuminated above, like justice.

The statement about aboriginal views of everything having a purpose and reason stirred me a little though. And is still stirring me a little.
For me, I don't have a belief that everything has a purpose, in a fixed way i.e. this book was NOT always meant to be read by me personally, so that I will have a revelation that will lead me down the track to change the world. Sure, there was a purpose to the book, but it was not specific anyone except perhaps the author but not in a “fate” sense for me. It however can be used for “a” purpose. Recreation, enlightenment, paperweight etc. But “the” purpose is undefined.

“Everything happens for a reason.” This sentence could be taken in two ways. The aboriginal way is in the “fate” sense. This is to say, a meaning akin to “The Lord works in mysterious ways”, that all events are part of a master plan. There are some times when life does appear to be doing that. On my birthday 2002, I had a birthday party where I selected the girl to feed me my birthday cake out of a bag at random. There were the names of about 20 girls in that bag and I drew the name Xin, who was to become my girlfriend.

But then you could say that there could be an element of causation there. Did feeding me my birthday cake become a precondition for us becoming close? But soon as we suggest a master plan, there would be implication on something greater considering our getting together to be a “superior” outcome (Or else why?) Having no affiliation with a deistic religion, I can say that I can lay this argument to one side till I have one.

Everything has a reason. The less fate-based interpretation of this sentence is much easier on the brain. It is easy to see that any occurrence has a reason for happening because we already know what the occurrence is.

Everything has a reason. Any accident, intentional or does have a reason for occurring. When I crashed my car into the side of a Morris Minor, while attempting a U-turn on Khyber Pass, I was influenced by tiredness, distraction and the desire to take a suggestion of a friend to go back up the road the other way. The Morris Minor was logically there because the driver needed to go there, maybe circumstances. Two sets of circumstances added up to the collision of motor vehicles. It was no accident (in the sense of being something that shouldn't have happened), although quite unintentional. Accidents are often seen as aberrations. They do not seem to be if we have perfect knowledge.

So is this pre-determination? Was it always going to happen?

A few years ago I had the argument against fate as follows:

“The perspective of fate relies on a perspective that is all-knowing, and that is beyond time. You can only consider the future fixed if you have these two capacities. That is, to be a god. Only those who believe in God/ a god need to worry themselves about the implications of fate (I would suggest to Christian believers that the omniscience of God, if it is not just popular belief that he is, threatens the idea of salvation and damnation). The rest of us have no need to be concerned as it occupies a perspective that is impossible and irrelevant to our existence. Like worrying how we look to a fly. Our equal lack of knowledge is makes us equally ignorant of what all the implications of current actions are so fate is irrelevant to our human lives.”

That was a nice “fend-off” in my agnostic times. A lot of my arguments usually lead to the implication that I didn’t have to think about anything.

But as I said, something jumped into my mind. Our personal agency as one of my lecturers would name it. It is true that every event has reasons that led to it, although the mystery might be what the reasons are exactly. So all one can do is see how their own actions and processes lead to any particular action. We do actively participate in most of the things that affect us.

In the car crash, I know tiredness and distraction led to it. I can see exactly where I went wrong. But there were some things that I did that played an active role in causing it. My choices, attitudes and my subsequent actions, with the background of uncontrolled circumstances, led to the collision.

Between circumstances and fate, we should look at it from the perspective that we are active agents in fate. For any occurrence, we can see our responsibility for them, and if we consider the occurrence adversive, we can do something about it. To take ownership of all things that happen because of us.

It is quite an empowering conclusion, but obvious conclusion.

This loops into my existing values, of responsibility. And late at night where the relevance of any particular issue is hard to see, it was a nice revelation.

I also love the line: “There are no freaks, misfits, or accidents. There are only misunderstandings and mysteries not yet revealed to mortal man." That’s all. You can imagine that sleeping with that in mind, waiting idly to be forgotten is something of a sleep-inhibitor. Thanks for reading, if you are.

P.S. This almost item equals the word count in my recent essay which I struggled to write.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

I am a person who easily slips into comfortable routine.

But in that way, I also find joy when I find the switch that puts me into activity (different from the normal).
I wonder what would happen if I had always been switched on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I'm back only moments after my dream post to say:

I will be having Rooibus tea when I next go to the best tea cafe in Auckland. I have drunk it before, and unusually I also drank it in Singapore (served to me by a ethnically Chinese friend whom I had many interesting discussions). It is a South African tea with a 'different' taste. I didn't think of much of it when I first drank it but in Singapore it was a divine taste. Now, I hear it is apparently one of the healthiest teas around. I want to see what it tastes like loose leaf and of high quality.
With my blog spot still in diapers, I suddenly find myself with ideas for posts seeping from my eyes and ears. Two nights ago, an idea or revelation kept me up. I wanted to write about it but found myself too tired. "Tomorrow!" And off to sleep I went. Yesterday came and while walking to pub quiz, I was again struck with a compelling daydream idea. "That would be a great post!", two to write about now. Regrettably time did not allow me to write either so I just scraped together notes on the Uni computers. Bussing to Xin's house, I suddenly remembered parts of my dreams. For now, that is what I will blog, "Fate" and "Leadership" will come later.

I dreamt last night about being in a boat. A shark, Jaws perhaps, burst headfirst from beneath the deck. The boat was damaged badly, some went into the water and pushed the boat, kicking in the water. There was no fear in that part of the dream. Later on, we got to an island, suddenly I found myself in a cave passage, and both the entrance and exit were guarded by snakes. I had no exit. I awoke.

I dream of vicious animals a lot. I can remember numerous dreams with sharks in them. Dream interpretation is not a hobby of mine. I just checked now, apparently sharks can mean "unpleasant emotions or difficult and painful materials coming up from the unconscious" or "dishonest friends" or "financial difficulties". None of those things seem a part of my life right now. Water is meant to indicate "subconsciousness". Maybe I should consider my own thought as to what "sharks" mean in my dreams. I am interested because I can't remember there being fear with such vicious animals in my dreams.
My negative thought for the day:

The birth of the mass media signalled the baby boom of the mass passive audience.

Monday, April 26, 2004

My first post on BlogSpot.

Surrealism is an interesting concept.

Surrealism n. A 20th-century literary and artistic movement that attempts to express the workings of the subconscious and is characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.

Here was my surrealistic day~

Life has no gravity, horizontal.. vertical.. horizontal... vertical. Day after day.
Spinning through space time. Rotating.

So it was on this morning, my spine became perpendicular again (by most mathematical measures).
The erection of my body from the depths of my sack of sheets was a laborious effort.
Then it was down the chute. My head followed the same old watercourse, no control, none needed.
I washed up at school. No splash. Just a stagger to my seat.

We learned of the blood and bones of language today. The dissecting of tongues and the discovery of the little bones in the ear sent some to bathroom in an awful hurry. Schwa. Schwa. We could see the sinews and tendons of the lecturer's words, not really listening to the meaning of his lesson.

He was just a pile of blood and bones anyway.

Higher I rose, climbing the walls. My company was stagnant, humming quitely. I talked endlessly.
He was filled with my silly ideas, taking note of my every point. A soulless friend.
Higher again I rose. Till I came to a crossroads. A fairy danced up right next to me and took me by the hand. We talked of tales, till food came to our heads. Night came and I was whisked away by time.

I went down, and down, till there was only darkness, guided by a bright light. I went far away, and saw in the cosmos, a mad world had caught a small girl (5). Of milk, a man would drink yet still take. Of water, there seemed so much in a land so baked. Yet it was all the same. The curtain of night fell even further, and the girl was cloaked in the gloom. That was the last I saw of her.

Flying home in my seat. I could reflect on a day near complete. My body yearned for another turn, to meet with my mattrice in another horizontal slumber.