the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Philosophizing to No One in Particular

I've often heard the argument that the world is random and chaotic, usually from postmodernists. The world I see around me is structured according to lovely patterns, especially notable with today being the equinox. Day becomes night becomes day, the seaons change, the daylight and nightdark lengthen and shorten, each in its turn. Birds migrate at the same time to the same places; plants grow and die at their appointed times; tides ebb and flow, dancing with the moon.

We are part of nature; we can't escape it, as much as we try. And so we, too, are part of and subject to those great patterns, our lives composed of patterns upon patterns. Perhaps we rush too much. Perhaps we need space and quiet and time to step back and observe the patterns.


Blogger Eric said...

I'm no postmodernist, though I do think of the world as random and chaotic, at least as it applies to us humans. You're certainly right about the patterns of nature, but often those patterns are so far beyond our comprehension or awareness that their effect seem random: witness the Florida hurricanes that keep appearing as if from nowhere.

I do agree, too, that we don't pay enough attention to nature. I also think that we don't pay the right kind of attention: every time there's a huge storm or mudslide or tidal wave or something, it reminds me of how, in many ways, nature doesn't seem to really want us here. I mean, we'll stand in a beautiful field and look at a majestic mountain and feel like we're part of that somehow, but I'm not sure nature is our friend. It tends to be quite destructive.

As for patterns, I think that often we look for them as a way of imposing meaning on the haphazardness of life. Our daily routines, in some ways, give the illusion of meaning, or at least of consistency. It's true of course that the equinox, the seasons, etc., are real patterns that were in place long before we got here. But on a daily level, for me, the things that happen from luck and circumstance, typically trump any structure that nature might impose.

8:25 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Eric: how's it feel to be WRONG? ;)

11:09 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Oh, I'm quite used to it.


11:29 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

For me, natural patterns serve the same function as clocks: a way to measure and keep track of everything else that goes on inside and outside of my brain--and there's a lot of it. It's nice to know that I can predict when I get to sleep, for example, and snow, and my birthday. Other than that...meh.

It's not about rushing, not at all. People call it rushing, and sometimes it is, but usually there's something behind it, namely, the overwhelming, insane number of thoughts and beliefs and opinions and behaviors and things and choices and relationships and everything in the world. The tiniest physical object--the most insignificant abstract concept--is tied to billions and billions of other things in billions and billions of other ways. Technology has exposed us* to more of them than ever, and we're increasingly expected to be aware of it all.**

Stepping back and observing is a laudable goal. But it's only another way to block out the rest of the world and focus on something. That's really what we need to do: Find out what honestly makes us content, then pare down everything else until we can spend most of our time doing that thing. It may be impossible, in which case we have to change what makes us content, instead.

* By "us" I mean me and others like me; American.

** We had a two-hour "diversity training" today. (Nothing I haven't read, written, or thought about before.) A main theme was that multiculturalism is a learning experience. And I thought, My God, how am I going to fit that in with all the other things I'm supposed to learn about: healthy eating habits, international feminism, PHP and a myriad of other computer-related applications and languages, public speaking, spending less money, well-made apparel, the history of poetry, what's going on in Sudan, the various and sundry bills that are passing through Congress, the consistency of my relationships with my immediate family members, on and on and on. And if I decide, no, I simply don't have the time, interest, or energy to be concerned about diversity--beyond simply treating everyone with respect and tolerance, I mean, which I do--somebody's going to come along (the HR director, perhaps) and reprimand me. This pressure is the problem, not rushing.

3:07 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home