Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014.11.14 — Dropped Staples, Casey Kasem Decays and Trivial Fushigis*

To write this or not, that is the question. At what point does the nature of a fushigi degenerate into the silliest of silly things? I don’t know. I have come to the realization that capital ‘L’ Life has a wicked and very funny sense of humour. And yes, capital ‘L’ life has a personality. Not a definable one, perhaps, but humour cannot exist without some kind of personhood. Or can it?… I digress.

Where was I? Right. So, does that mean that silly fushigis are the ones closest to the heart of life? I mean capital ‘L’ Life? Are play and imagination the true measures of the magical nature of being alive? Who knows. Who knows?! I wonder who ‘Who’ is and if s/he gives a whoot? (LOL! Sorry. Silly joke.)

But I had a very funny thing happen in the office Thursday. It began with the trite if not innocuous act of removing staples from a file folder that had five of them holding two pieces of paper to it. I was purging old work to make room for current. Anyway, I dropped the first staple onto the carpeted floor, which surprised me as I am very careful to not drop staples.
And oddly enough this was a continuation of a dropsy pattern that had began earlier in the morning with me having dropped my car keys, and before that, my breakfast utensils and the lid of a vitamin supplement jar. All mildly annoying, but dropping staples I find egregious because I take my shoes off in the office and because removing staples from the carpet is often an arduous task for the cleaning people. For these reasons I don’t remember the last time I have done that and so this dropped staple brought from me a mild oath. Then I got down on my knees to find the staple by feel because the carpet has a pattern that makes it almost impossible to see the staple.

It took a surprisingly long time to find it, but found it I did just before giving up. I put it into the trash, and then proceeded to drop the next staple onto the floor! After I found that one, I managed to miss the garbage and then had to re-find it! I began thinking to myself, ‘WTF is going on!?’ So I very carefully took out the last staple and it made it to the floor as well.

Before the demands of work began to fill my time, I mentally scratched my head and laughed at myself and at life. And I wondered what was going on within my Self that i was so distracted that I’d drop not just one but three staples. And I confess to being a little frustrated that my daily yoga practice seemed to not be helping me be centred and grounded enough to keep me from dropping staples, keys, lids, utensils.

All this was quickly forgotten for about an hour until I turned my chair in an unusual way and from the corner of my eye spotted a small piece of crumpled blue sticky note paper on the floor against my filing cabinet / table. Not that I am an overly anal neat freak, but maybe my earlier floor forays had conditioned me to bend over to pick it up and trash it. I was stunned to see that it was resting on top of a staple. I blinked my eyes, before smiling at this. And then I wondered how it was that that piece of paper got there, because it wasn’t mine: it was blue and my current and recent sticky’s are yellow. And so I uncrumpled it, to find that it was most certainly not mine and that it was just a torn corner of someone else’s note.

And tonight, as I was getting ready to write this fushig blog, I could hear through my head phones, without actively attending it, a story my wife was listening to on the TV show TMZ about how the body of the DJ Casey Kasem’s was being allowed to decay in Norway by his wife so as to keep from being discovered whether or not he had suffered abuse at her hands before he died. (See Casey Kasem Rotting In Norway.)

I was started to hear from my head phones a song with the lyrics

”I’ll be asleep and I’ll drown my body will never be found…”
The song was playing on CBC-R2’s The Signal and from the play list I found it to be ‘The State of the Union Address’ by The Olympic Symphonium.

And the last small fushigi for the night. I received a Goodreads email from a new GR friend. He had replied to my having greeted him upon his friend request. In my greeting I had commented about ideas because of his name,
and he replied in kind. And with his reply another small fushigi created itself.

Here is the correspondence, including my comment in my reply about the fushigi:
Guy: Hello 1000ideas. Nice to meet you. I remember when I thought I had a thousand ideas too. Or, I think I used to think that I did. Now I'm not so sure. ;-)

1000ideas: Hello Guy… I’m sure you still do have a thousand ideas either big or small, yet we as humans forget things we don't need. Yet thanks to the power of writing we can remember all the thoughts we had.

Guy: Hello 1000ideas. Your comment about the power of writing being able to provide remembrance brought out from my mind a couple of cautionary tales about this so-called word power. Of course they are written down, and so are inherently ironical, which makes me smile. Anyway, here are some words to ponder:
In Plato's Phaedrus Socrates reports a conversation between The Egyptian god Thoth, the inventor of letters, and the god Amon.

Amon says:
This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be bearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Socrates continues:
I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence, and the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer.

Plato. Phaedrus. Toronto: Penguin, 1973,p. 84. Cited in Mass Communication in Canada, 3rd Ed. by Lorimer and McNulty, Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 20.

B) [Written] Language as a Prison

The Philippines did have a written language before the Spanish colonists arrived, contrary to what many of those colonists subsequently claimed. However, it was a language that some theorists believe was mainly used as a mnemonic device for epic poems. There was simply no need for a European-style written language in a decentralized land of small seaside fishing villages that were largely self-sufficient.

One theory regarding language is that it is primarily a useful tool born out of a need for control. In this theory written language was needed once top-down administration of small towns and villages came into being. Once there were bosses there arose a need for written language. The rise of the great metropolises of Ur and Babylon made a common written language an absolute necessity — but it was only a tool for the administrators. Administrators and rulers needed to keep records and know names — who had rented which plot of land, how many crops did they sell, how many fish did they catch, how many children do they have, how many water buffalo? More important, how much do they owe me? In this account of the rise of written language, naming and accounting seem to be language's primary "civilizing" function. Language and number are also handy for keeping track of the movement of heavenly bodies, crop yields, and flood cycles. Naturally, a version of local oral languages was eventually translated into symbols as well, and non-administrative words, the words of epic oral poets, sort of went along for the ride, according to this version.

What's amazing to me is that if we accept this idea, then what may have begun as an instrument of social and economic control has now been internalized by us as a mark of being civilized. As if being controlled were, by inference, seen as a good thing, and to proudly wear the badge of this agent of control — to be able to read and write — makes us better, superior, more advanced. We have turned an object of our own oppression into something we now think of as virtuous. Perfect! We accept written language as something so essential to how we live and get along in the world that we feel and recognize its presence as an exclusively positive thing, a sign of enlightenment. We've come to love the chains that bind us, that control us, for we believe that they are us (161-2).
David Byrne from his excellent book Bicycle Diaries.

And now for an odd fushigi of the day. Fushigi is my adopted word for small odd synchronicity.

Earlier tonight, but after I'd read your reply, I stumbled into an old pdf book on my computer while looking for a video I'd transferred from tape into digital format. It seems to have gone missing since upgrading my OS. Anyway, instead of finding the video with the title 'Wisdom of the Dream' I found Who Knows?: A Study of Religious Consciousness by Raymond M. Smullyan. And I began to read it, and just after the introduction I read:
Martin Gardner has left us a host of thought-provoking thoughts on religion (as well as other topics) in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, and I would like to share some of my own thoughts that his have provoked.
Sorry about the verbosity. I don't know why your short comment would prompt me to respond in this way except maybe to provide you with a few more ideas to think about.

Be well,...

And so I had an interestingly trivial and trivially interesting fushigi day. What of that? Who knows?! LOL!