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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

Chauvet Horses, 30,000 years old

An individual human life can range from moments to a century.  Yet even a century is a heartbeat when the entire span of human history is imagined.  I am reading a book on the Siege of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto, two events that spanned decades, but in hindsight can be analyzed and discussed in an evening.  It made me think about the complexity of existence and how limited a single lifetime can be, even one that is long and filled with adventure.  It still can represent only a fraction of what is possible, or what has been.

If we imagine that every human life is a book, and that each book is kept in a library, then the magnitude of human experience can be visualized.  This library is too big to explore.  Even condensed into a single volume titled “The History of Civilization” would be too limited.  An individual could not read all those books in his or her lifetime.  In order to get a full understanding of what it means to be human, there must be Art.

Art is a form of communication that can condense human experience into a flash of comprehension and even “experience”.  This is the big “Art” that includes music and dance and architecture and all forms of human expression.  Without these elements of culture, each human life would just be a brief replay of eating and sleeping.

When you look at art (or listen) your brain is encouraged to Grok Fully a message from one mind to another.  Time becomes meaningless.  The images of the horses in the Chauvet cave speak to us now.  The spoken language of the artist is as dead as he is, yet this language of beauty and truth will never disapear.  30,000 years is nothing.  And everything.  It is now.  You can see it.  Now.

Concepts can be communicated as well.  Here is something remarkable that needs no words in any language to communicate in mere moments the entire history of human war:

Picasso 1937 Guernica

This is not just one war, but all wars.

And this is not just one man, but the idea of man:

Michaelangelo's David

And woman

Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

And music.  Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is an audible representation of being human.  In one short hour you can be infused with every human emotion there is.  You want to know what sadness sounds like?  Joy? Love?  Tenderness? Hatred and anger? For $1.29 you can listen to centuries of collected human emotion on your portable listening device.  What does Hope look like?  Fear?  Love? Museums are filled with sculpture that will show you.  Here is something we all can understand:

Rodin "The Kiss"

And this is a tomb.  We can understand in one eyeblink the brief breath of one woman’s life and the eternity of this monument and see the love of a man for his wife:

And not to forget film and theatre and literature too.  Can’t forget fiction!  Exploring what being fully human means has been a common theme since The Metamorphoses of Apuleius.

Why are we here?  What does it all mean? We want to know.  We have to know.

A life without Art is a life lived alone.

 

Bladerunner. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Art is forever.  Life is brief.

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This is my favorite quote from Richard Bach, the Metaphysician.  Henry Ford, the Pragmatist, said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right!”

I wouldn’t be pounding this concept so hard if I didn’t see the problems people create for themselves every day at work just because their thinking is skewed.  So many many times each day I hear a co-worker bemoan some “fact” about his or her reality that just isn’t “true”.  I put true in quotations because Truth (with a big T) is very definitely subjective.  If you are accepting something as True, then it is.  The obverse is also true.  If my colleagues would say, “I am not satisfied with the way this project is progressing, and I am discussing alternatives with the other folks in my group” then I would smile and nod.  But that is not what they say.

They say, “Mary ruined the project with her stupid idea” or “Management was unreasonable when they demanded this be done on a deadline” or better yet, “Everyone is putting me down and not letting me do my work”.  I love that one.  Do you see the drift?  If something is not going well, it is someone else’s fault.

Do these folks honestly believe in their heart-of-hearts that they are infallible?  Do they really think that if they had complete and total control of the project it would turn out perfectly and on time?  I don’t think so.  I think they are making all that noise so when the criticism comes, it is aimed at someone else.  Deflection to protect their egos.

An how is the ego damaged by failure?  Are You what people think of You?  or are You something else?

A great many people define themselves by what others think of them, and how do they know?  Unless they are reading minds, they are guessing.  This makes for an unwieldy self-image.  You are what you THINK others are THINKING about you.  All comes back to what you think… again.

Our culture encourages this way of self-image because it sells a lot of products (from beauty products to self-help books!).  Young people are nearly impossible to impress with any other way of thinking.  To them it IS vitally important which table they sit at in the cafeteria.

I would say that no amount of public approval will completely satisfy an insecure Ego.  The insecure will always focus on the one negative comment, as if anything less than complete agreement or complete adulation is unacceptable.

Impossible, therefore massive psychological misery.

You are NOT what others think of you.  You are what you think of yourself.  This is manageable.  If you are dissatisfied with yourself, you can change the way you  think of your Self.  It is more difficult (and expensive) to change the way others think of you.  Even then you cannot be sure.

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