Monday, September 20, 2010

What Does it Mean to be Human?

Interstate 15

Blurring, brilliant, alluring red
lights streaking lipstick through the soot
black night with halogen dreams and rouge
screams parting misty gray curtains,
fading into fast lanes, moments of clarity:
exposing truth until the dream takes over again;
the trance, reactionary and separated from reality
by mental astigmatism.

I have always been interested in how the capacity for thought distinguishes humans from animals, and how humans can regress into primal mindsets when presented with certain situations. The "fight or flight" mechanism is a good example of this. Reasoning is shut down to a large degree and the urge to GTFO or to bear ones fisticuffs turns on, adrenaline gives one a sense of urgency like no other. Emotion and instinct take over and we become more like trapped mice than humans.

I also find it interesting who we find "inhuman;" Drug lords killing anyone who gets in their way, hit men, rapists etc. we find these people inhuman because they act inhumane, and therefore do not have the right to live free. When one loses the ability to empathize or even sympathize they become inhuman. Yet there are many genetic disorders that include an inability to sympathize or grasp the idea of emotion. Autism is one of these "disorders." People with autism often are extremely intelligent but they lack empathy for those around them. In this respect they are more like logic machines than humans.

In other words our idea of "humanity" is both distinctively rational and emotional, when one lacks either of these attributes it allows them to do the inhuman, the inhumane.

However I am most interested in how our idea of humanity comes into perspective when one is in mentally compromising situations. When one is drunk they become more irrational, when one is exhausted they are unable to emotionally connect, when one watches someone die for the first time, they lose the ability to reason and emotion takes over. Are we less human in these situations? do we become animals or computers?

Or is there really no such thing as "inhuman." It reminds me of "I <3 Huckabees:" at one point one of the characters wonders aloud, "How am I not myself?" How can a being with human DNA be inhuman? Have all these exceptions to the idea of the "humanity" become the rule? The ideal of "humanity" being noble and empathizing and rational just is not the reality. Each of us displays differing displays of intellect and emotion based on variables as fundamental as DNA and as fickle as what we ate for lunch. The truth is we are all humanity, we cannot distance ourselves from the exceptions by saying they are inhuman, they are just as human as we are, just different, and in some cases, destructive.

This allows us to implement the same set of laws to all, we are all human and can be held to the same standard, no matter how demented they are they cannot plead that they are "inhuman" and cannot be held to the same standard, regardless of culture (thought they might plead insanity, which is as close to being "inhuman" as you can get).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Percussive Engineering

Percussive engineering, repairing,
nice ways of saying:
"Hit it until it works"
rusted joints resolute,
set in their wicked orangey ways,
grasping, holding on to the norm,
the set way of life.

their hands grow tired with oil,
and vibration, with each peal of metal on metal
I whisper to them, telling them the futility
of holding on, the freedom of change,
but they will have none of it,
they sing back in rich vibratos:
"life is flux, but I am stone,
I will break before I bow."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Bleeding light and form
cuts in fabric
figures dancing in the opposing shadow world
distorted, unreal in the breeze like
watching koi outlines
sensually writhe
on the end of a hook,
the capacity for pain is gone
and only the primal caged feeling
is left.

Let them fall like
Icarus, bringing sons down with them,
let them stay beneath the surface,
never really touching the real.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Problems of Inductive Reasoning

All science and knowledge of the world to this point has come from trust in inductive reasoning. If an apple falls in a forest does it make a sound? Well of course it does, it would have to violate many principles of physics not to, but where did these principles of physics come from? What is gravity? We know that it must be, but how and why does it work? Well we have documented gravity, does innumerable tests to verify that it indeed exists and how it relates to mass, but we really do not know what it is. It acts exactly like acceleration in every possible instance (which provides for interesting effects, but that is another rant), but it is tied to mass in some way.

Anyways it would not be so unusual (from a purely theoretical point of view) for gravity to reverse, to push instead of pull, and there would be no explanation for it. But from a human standpoint that would be unusual to say the least. Everything we have done, ever, has been with gravity acting a certain way, it would go against all expectations. Yet can we say that this instance will never happen? is it possible for it to happen? sure, it is possible, inexplicable but possible, so how can we make universal laws like gravity or conservation of matter (which is incorrect) from given input?

Our whole idea of how physics and the universe works has been smashed and rearranged several times over so how can we say with confidence that this is how the world works when we have thought that many times before and been wrong? Einstein destroyed Newtonian physics by introducing the idea that energy was proportional to mass, that energy had weight.

The traditional answer is that we perform many many accurate tests and make a rule of it if it passed every test, pretend that there is no way this rule could be broken, and if it was broken, then that just becomes part of the rule, an exception, or a redefinition of the rule. But the truth is that we do not "know" and we cannot "know" but we can estimate with certain amount of certainty.

Everything lies in probabilities, they can explain both why something happened and why it did not in a similar case. They allow for all circumstances, thus effectively telling nothing about what will happen in a given case, just because something is likely to happen does not mean it will.

What I am trying to say is that we can know nothing of what happens in the future, no matter how likely something is, it is no guarantee.

That is why I expect to find my bike has been stolen every time I look for it, why I expect to never see my friends and loved ones again when they leave for a while (or when I leave for a while). I dont expect for others to care about me or what I think. I am happy when I am wrong, but I still have this sinking feeling whenever I look for my bike, or I am about to see my family. Like it is too good to be true.