Friday, June 06, 2014

At the Same Time and On Another Level

Yesterday was of course a melancholy day, so sleep was a welcome reprieve. Fell in at 9:30 but awoke at 3:30, and when we say that Ben is in our thoughts, we mean this literally. But one thought provokes another, especially when one is in that half-dreaming state.

Half-dreaming state... Aren't we always more or less in one? And if not, why not? What's wrong with you? No imagination? What's the alternative? Living inside a math book?

Sure, why not? Renowned infertile egghead Richard "Vanilla Thunder" Dawkins sez We Shouldn't Read Fairy Tales to Children, As That Encourages Them to Believe in the Supernatural and Therefore God, and that is a form of straight-up child abuse to nurture a child's imagination.

Now, one of us is way wrong here, but not on the surface. I think we can all agree with Dawk when he makes the brilliant observation that "There's a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog -- it's statistically too improbable."

Except that it's not interesting, it's banal. It's a truth, but a trivial one. It's also a form of naive category error, in that he applies one form of logic to a statement that clearly entails another. Since we all know that frogs do not transform to princes, we need to dig a little deeper to comprehend how the story can be true on another level.

Which reminds me of the title of a book, But at the Same Time and On Another Level. So yes, frogs don't turn into princes, but at the same time and on another level... And terrestrial life may end in biological death, but at the same time and on another level...

Speaking of titles, I often think that if I could only find it, then I could instantly produce the next crockbluster, since it would organize the 3,000 posts contained herein. Candidates are jotted down everywhere. Here's one: Just Wondering. Right? Because that's what it is, just nine years of quietly wondering out loud.

Here's another: Food for Meta-Thought.

Hmm, here's a joke I've never been able to work into a post: "Chas Bono spent his early life abroad." Which reminds me of one from yesterday that I'll probably never use. Did you hear that Michelle Obama wants to run for the Senate? Just a misunderstanding. What she said was she'd love to have Barack's seat. Must we politicize everything? She was talking about anatomy.

Man in the Cosmos and the Cosmos in Man. Learning Through Cosmosis. Pneumatic Trialogues in the Wild Godhead. Slack: Flying on Wings of Leisure. The Encephalization of the Cosmos.

A note to myself: what is the cognitive opposite of discovery? An important question, since the left is so adept at undiscovering settled truths.

An unused pun: the unquantifiable is what counts.

Back to Dawkins for a moment. The problem is, there's no I in science. Literally, since physics, biology, or neurology can in no way account for this mysterious interior stranger. Talk about statistically unlikely! If dead matter can transform into a living I, then I don't see a problem with frogs evolving into princes.

Why is this post so frivolous? As mentioned, I woke up thinking of Ben. My mind went to the only two significant losses in my life, my father in 1984 and my sister-in-law in 2002. I am then reminded that my father was 58. Hey, I'm 58. Patti was 57. Once you hit your 50s, then you should know that death can happen at any time. If the median is 78 or whatever, it means that half will die before that.

My father wasn't in good shape, I am. Yes, I have diabetes, but I'll bet my blood pressure, cholesterol, and even blood sugar are lower than yours. Doesn't matter. They say that for something like a third of the cases, the first symptom of heart disease is sudden death, no matter what we do to try to prevent it. That's what you call sobering.

As I said yesterday, there is ample reason for despair, and seemingly no rational reason for happiness, contentment, and joy. I know that in my case, I've always been preoccupied with death. It started when I was about 13, and it's never been far from my mind.

You'd think this would be a recipe for a morbid personality, but despite living in this vale of tears, I've always been susceptible to episodes of completely unreasonable joy or contentment or mild bliss. It's rare to go a day without these superfluous consolations. And they are wholly vertical, in the sense that they are completely unrelated to horizontal circumstances -- although I should add that I've never been tested in the way Ben is being at this moment. Indeed, it isn't difficult for me to imagine circumstances in which the world would be enveloped in unrelieved darkness, and the joy would be lost forever.

Nevertheless: the light will return precisely because it is unreasonable. It is a divine gift, because there is no earthly reason to have it, especially now. Yes, this qualifies as a banality, but at the same time and on another level...

22 Comments:

Blogger Paul Griffin said...

"There's a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog -- it's statistically too improbable."

He strains at this, but life somehow appearing in a universe full of not-life, that statistical camel he'll swallow?

Isn't evolution, at its most basic, just the story of frogs turning into princes anyway?

6/06/2014 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, but via magic instead of love.

6/06/2014 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

But at the same time, and on another level... the magic of transformation is still grounded in love.

And anyway, if frogs never turn into princes, I can't help wondering how the species could possibly be propagated. At least, not to the extent that makes civilization possible...

6/06/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Same Time, Different Channel. If only Dawkins had a Holy Ghost DVR.

6/06/2014 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

GLAAD won't be happy to hear that Dawkins hates fairy tales.

6/06/2014 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Alternative alternative title:
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...

6/06/2014 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I'm sure the lords of scientism regret that burning heretics at the stake is no longer quite de rigueur.

6/06/2014 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This outstanding book I'm reading about the Six Day War, The Lion's Gate, is heartening precisely because it shows such extraordinary courage in the face of the direst adversity. Highly raccoomended.

6/06/2014 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Speaking of imagination,
it was unreasonable to expect today's post would be better than yesterday's.
Yet, here it is.

6/06/2014 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

"Nevertheless: the light will return precisely because it is unreasonable. It is a divine gift, because there is no earthly reason to have it."

I think depression is the default position. In a recent episode this seemed all too true.
Which just makes me ever so grateful for the periods of joy. No matter how brief they are, they stand out immensely.

6/06/2014 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Bob, thank you for taking care of yourself.
That goes for the rest of you, mugs.

6/06/2014 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

A person like Dawkins is akin to someone who responds to a request to "Call me a cab" by replying, "Ok, you're a cab." Except he means it. He insists that is all those words can possibly mean, and to infer other meanings or intents, including a (not especially) funny one, is to chase fairy-tales and meanings that simply don't exist. (Whether fairy tales are worth chasing never really comes up, but that's a bit beside the point...)

Kinda like a dog, in that he can't (or doesn't want to) distinguish between "Hey, look at that!" and "Hey, smell my finger!"

Frankly, if frogs can't turn into princes, I don't know what hope any of us has. And don't call me Shirley.

6/06/2014 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Hi everyone,

As already noted, many of us would like to be able to do more for Ben than offer prayers and caring words, even knowing the words do give comfort. With that in mind, we are in the process of setting up a memorial fund in Patti's name, to help Ben and his daughters to get through the difficult days ahead. As soon as it's available, a link to a youcaring page for making donations will be listed here, at my blog, on Ben's, and anywhere else folks might like to post them. (And fwiw, this was in no way Ben's idea, though we do now have his permission to get this all set up.)

Alternatively, if you'd like to contribute, but don't feel comfortable donating online or with a credit card, send me an email and I can give you Ben's address, and you can simply mail him a check. Or even just a card, or a jar of kimchee. Maybe some treats for his dog, Skully. You get the picture.

Thanks in advance - I know it will be deeply appreciated.

6/06/2014 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(I guess I should give my email:
juliecork ~at~ prodigy.net)

6/06/2014 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Julie.

6/06/2014 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Ok, you guys know how I am about the internet.

I'll ping for snail mail.

6/06/2014 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

Here is the link Julie mentioned. You can use a credit card or paypal to make a donation to the fund to honor Patti Conrad, Ben's late wife.

You can contribute anonymously, so your name won't appear on the website. But Ben will see the emails when you contribute, just so you know.

Please email me if any problems or questions re. the site so I can fix any issues.
https://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/honoring-patti-conrad-devoted-wife-and-loving-mother-/188081

6/06/2014 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thank you Julie and Leslie for setting this up.
You gals are saints!

6/06/2014 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BTW, if anyone wants to send me beer that's cool too.
Jest sayin'.

6/06/2014 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Just kidding about the beer. The strongest drink I've had this week is sweet tea.

6/07/2014 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Brazentide said...

A note to myself: what is the cognitive opposite of discovery? An important question, since the left is so adept at undiscovering settled truths.

Undiscovery..

Though the left might call it the 're-discovery' of things foolishly rendered taboo by the unenlightened and primitive people of the past.

Like 'social necromancers', they bestow undeath on those demons of history once thought vanquished and buried forever.


Mushroom: I'm sure the lords of scientism regret that burning heretics at the stake is no longer quite de rigueur.

But wait!

Look what Prof. Richard "death penalty for AGW deniers" Parncutt has just unearthed!

6/07/2014 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"A note to myself: what is the cognitive opposite of discovery? An important question, since the left is so adept at undiscovering settled truths.

An unused pun: the unquantifiable is what counts."

Wouldn't the opposite of Discovery be Evasion? Purposefully pretending that what is there to be discovered... isn't really there?

That and its cousin, pretending what doesn't exist, does, because you really want it to - those pretty much make up the Pro-Regressive left's worldview.

6/07/2014 12:20:00 PM  

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