I hope you’ve been enjoying the first ninety-nine brief posts on my small blog. I’ve enjoyed bringing them to you, and will return in January. Do have a browse through some of the posts you might have missed. Have a peaceful Christmas!
Oppositional vocabulary is attractive, powerful, often necessary. But focusing on conflict “limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.” Wars on poverty, drugs, terror? None has been won. Can you wage war on a predicament?Continue reading “msb ~099 A war on simplicity?”
Some stories bear repeating. This one’s a nightmarish scenario worthy of the direst Sci-Fi blockbuster: a planet’s species controlled from birth in machine technologies, enduring rapid growth beyond natural limits, shunted to mass-engineered death for meat harvesting. Flash forward to a distant future: the hidden enslavers have gone; only countless bones, in vast graves scattered across the planet, tell that the enslaved creatures were ever there. Fantasy? Maybe not so much — if you’re one of the 23 billion chickens alive at this moment. ‘Dominant species’ might be a stretch, but maybe in the eyes of the mythical alien archaeologists – landing on Earth after humans have gone, shaking tentacled heads at the wonders in the rocks – chicken bones will dominate their reconstructions of what ‘on Earth’ went on here.Continue reading “msb ~097 Reading the bones”
One aspect of ‘reality’ where the mind’s eye leads us astray is quantum worldviews. Quantum physics describes subatomic particles, but it’s contentious whether it goes much larger: microbes, cats, quantum physicists? People often look for analogies that seem to encompass consciousness, ecology and non-Western worldviews. I’ve found these attractive ever since reading Gary Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Masters, though my physics degree then cautioned me to think inside the box. Part of the appeal? The quantum language — ‘duality’, ‘entanglement’, ‘many-worlds’, ‘non-locality’ — and the science’s radical forms of uncertainty appeal to the abstract mind and visual imagination: the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat-in-the-box, alive-and-dead-at-the-same-time (‘superposition’, not superstition), until the instant the curious observer opens its box and the cat becomes one-or-the-other. But visual imagination cannot go there, and the words don’t mean what they do in everyday talk.Continue reading “msb ~093 Quantum worldviews”
I’ve been listening to the Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes podcasts. It’s refreshing to get these short empathy bursts: insights into others’ lives, in their own words. Katie Hodgkins’s podcast introduced an experience that maybe seems unimaginable. Katie herself couldn’t imagine it if she weren’t experiencing it. As she says, “I have something called aphantasia. It means I’ve got no imagination, and there’s no pictures in my mind … So I struggle with putting myself in other people’s positions, and I don’t have a very good memory because of it … I need to see something to remember.” As she says, “It’s really amazing that people have full-on images in their heads!”
Tom Baskeyfield asks questions about stone that “focus on relationship to place and the stuff of place” and contemplation of “the slow and the local.” In Dark Mountain’s TERRA, he considers both the stones in his hometown, Macclesfield – “a cobble protruding through tarmac .. drystone walls hidden between newer brick buildings .. weathered surfaces of paving slabs underfoot” – and the town’s Welsh slate roofs. The local stone also migrated, in this case from a hillside quarry. Hillside and town were familiar to each other; “like a trickling stream, it is not hard to imagine the flow of stone from this hill shaping the footpaths and roads on its meandering descent, and pooling in the medieval streets in the valley below.”Continue reading “msb ~091 Shaped by stone”