Keeping My Streak Alive!
Didn't quite finish The Information last night. Compelling reading, but I'd had insomnia the night before and I couldn't quite keep my eyes open. Fascinating book, though. We may well be living in a computational universe. Whether or not that means we're "living" in a simulation, I don't know.
I did manage to get up this morning and "sit." It went remarkably well, I think, for being the first time in many months. I normally try to sit for twenty minutes. I figured I'd cut myself some slack for being the first time in a long time and set the timer for seventeen. They went by quite quickly, and I wasn't struggling too much with quieting my "inner narrator." The key, of course, is attention. He babbles on endlessly, I just don't pay any attention to him. If I do, the babble turns into a story of some kind, and there I go, down the rabbit-hole! So I just let it go... return to the breath... return to the breath... and then the timer goes off and I'm done!
You keep your inner narrator in check, and you're much less "reactive." So, high-five myself, one more step in the right direction toward making this year better than the last one. (A low barrier, I know.)
Time to go walk to the beach. Before I go, I want to wish Loren Webster of In a Dark Time... a belated happy birthday. Loren is a fellow blogger from back in the salad days of the blogosphere. He's seventy five years young now, a Vietnam veteran, scholar, birder and excellent photographer. Here's a link for you, Loren: Reading Yeats in the Age of Trump.
Where Was I?
Happy New Year!
Well, among many resolutions for this year, I resolved to blog more. So far, this is the one I seem to be doing the best on.
Anyway, the lights are still on down here in the woodchuck hole. Thoughts still cross my mind from time to time (Which is why I've also resolved to begin meditating again. Stupid brain, won't shut up.), so I'll share a few of them here from time to time. Ideally with some frequency, if not regularity.
I've been reading James Gleick's The Information, a fascinating book and well worth your time. I've got about fifty pages to go, so I should finish it today.
There's a quotation in the chapter on memes from David Mitchell that I loved, "The human world is made of stories, not people. The people the stories use to tell themselves are not to be blamed."
I love that so much! It brings me back to some of the things I wrote about in the old Time's Shadow, and later Groundhog Day, about social organisms and their animating belief systems. And also my objections to David Weinberger's assertion that we are "writing ourselves into existence." I posited that existence precedes narrative; all narratives are works of fiction; and rather than writing ourselves into existence, we were painting ourselves into corners. In America, one paint is red, the other, blue.
I may have to return to all that, as it seems to me to be more true today than ever before.
Next up after The Information, is going to be Gleick's Chaos, Making a New Science, which I read when it was first published, many (many!) years ago. I'm trying to reacquaint myself with chaos theory, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, and non-linear dynamical systems. Gleick's book is a stimulating review of the history of the development of the theory. I've been reading some math books, which go much more into the historical accounts of how various problems were solved, and I find that the underlying principles are much clearer to me as I read about how the various mathematicians struggled with problems the existing mathematics were inadequate to solve. Perhaps I really don't "understand" the math, as I don't go on to do equations as exercises (Though I'm seriously entertaining the idea of doing that very thing. Please read this.); maybe I just "feel" as though I do, because I have some idea of how the solution was eventually developed.
Meandering along, as I do, the desire for this effort at edification stems from trying to have some notion of understanding of the discussion regarding our models of polar ice melt, which has profoundly existential implications for our civilization. I am persuaded that our current models are inadequate, and are very likely underestimating the rate of ice loss and therefore the rate of sea level rise. While I will never be a mathematician, or a polar climatologist, or an oceanographer, I'd at least like to have some vague idea of what they're talking about so I can follow along and perhaps learn how to frame certain pointed questions to my government representatives.
Okay, that's probably about enough for now. I have a few more things I could go on about, but perhaps it's best to hold them in reserve to have something to start with the next time I try to keep this particular resolution.
Please receive my sincerest wishes for a safe, healthy, relatively sane, peaceful 2017.
We're all in this together. None of us gets out of here alive.