Latest Observations

On Beauty as the Antidote

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 27, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The darkness kills us. Many great men have suffered for the sake of the darkness. As the French philosopher Camus has said, “Suicide is the problem.” The darkness eventually suffocates any one of us who cannot either find an intellectual or emotional sedative or who cannot legitimately counter it.

The legitimate counter of darkness requires courage, but courage is not enough. Such courage can only be sustained by a transfusion of power that transforms courage into victory. Courage is never a guarantee of victory, but it is often essential to it.

For me, beauty is the antidote to my suffering. I have discovered, as I have aged, that the horror of the darkness is greater than even I have conceived. But, wonder of wonders, I have also discovered that the beauty is so fantastical as to justify my struggle for every single breath. If I have committed many great errors, indeed, sins against my soul, perhaps the greatest is my failure to apprehend the true beauty around me.

On Life as Best When the Best is Lived Over and Over Again

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 24, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

In the early years of life, time stretches forward in linear fashion. You look forward to what will come. You look forward to what you will become. In the latter years of life, time (perception) becomes circular. You find yourself looking backward and looking forward. You recognize patterns. Events repeat themselves.

These phenomena may be experienced on different levels. Here is a simple example: I have been hunting for the past two days. Unlike my youth, the experience is not typified by new discoveries. It is typified by past memories. The sounds and the smells evoke traces from my past. I'm filled with reminiscence as much as I am with anticipation. Life is meant to be more than a linear experience. It is best when the best is lived over and over again.

On the Danger of Using Anecdotes

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 23, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader often expresses himself by anecdote. In doing so, he is representing a false picture of who he is. This may win the admiration of his followers, but it imposes an inaccurate model – one based on the exception instead of the norm.

The followers compare their norm with the leader’s artificial super-norm and believe there to be an unbridgeable gap. For the leader, this secures his “high-place” among those around him. For the follower, this motivates a sense of utter futility. The practice of presenting the exception as the norm is patently dishonest.

On Words as the Expression of an Illusion

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 22, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I am fascinated by the subtleties of conversation. The more words, the less meaning. I have observed that conversation sets down a sort of outline, with each subsequent word shading in the details. At the end, there is an image, but more often than not, it is not a true image.

Words are not expressions of a reality; words are expressions of an illusion. Those concepts which are most real cannot be captured by words. The moment one employs a word, we attach an artificial, though sometimes useful, meaning.

I am a communicator. I speak often. However, I think I could achieve more by listening more. I have watched how words are used to color-in a distorted image and even reshape it. Somehow, I find it difficult to combine all of the utterances into a whole that feels real. This is true of my words and of others’.

On Being Convinced in the Face of Uncertainty

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 21, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

What does it mean to say that I am convinced of something? What does it mean that anyone says that they are convinced? I suspect that the limitation of words makes this particular declaration dangerous. It likely means different things to different people. Being convinced might be a state of mind, based on something someone feels in terms of certainty, or probability. It might be a decision made in light of the fact that one cannot establish probability. One man needs a criterion, such as "inference to the best explanation," another, needs a sense deep down in their spirit.

For me, being convinced is a very important statement. It is important because it is distinguished from being certain. I may not be certain, but I can be convinced. All of my life must be lived out of this place. I cannot live out of a condition of absolute uncertainty. Though I recognize my inability to ever be certain, I affirm that I can reach a place where I am convinced. For me, this convincing equates with risk. It is a statement that embraces risk.

I am not certain of anything, but I am convinced of many things.

On the Presence of Beauty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 20, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The presence of beauty does not guarantee the absence of ugliness. But the absence of beauty guarantees the pervasiveness of ugliness. 

On Leadership and the Priority of Wisdom Over Intelligence

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 17, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Men often substitute intelligence for wisdom. This is a grave mistake. One may be born with intelligence (it is a gift), but wisdom must be purchased over time (it is a reward). Men are often chosen for leadership positions because of their intelligence, but intelligence is never enough. We have too many intelligent leaders and too few wise ones. 

On Art Speaking More from the Background than the Foreground

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 16, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think there is a place in art for the background to say more than the foreground. Indeed this inverse approach bears experimentation. In some ways, Henry James achieved this in the dialogue of his characters. What they did not say was louder than (even contradicting) what they did say. 

The best poetry speaks from the background, not the foreground. In music, proper attention is placed on the foreground, either the voice instrument or the direct message of the lyrics. But the more powerful compositions seep down deeper into the sub-soul of the listener.

On Achieving a False Equilibrium

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 15, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

As human beings we are by nature challenged with internal conflict. This conflict manifests itself in multiple forms, but perhaps the most essential is our struggle between right and wrong - at least as we perceive it. The challenge can emerge as a battle. Over the years the battle wears us down. True peace might come if the good or the right defeats the bad or the wrong. As time passes, this seems impossible. We then approximate a truce. We accept the measure of the wrong, and try to seize or hold on to a measure of the right. With this acceptance comes this sense of peace. One must be careful with this approach. Is this peace or a just a resignation to death?

On the Dilemma of Knowing What You Cannot Say

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 14, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

There is a dilemma in life that comes not from what you do not know, but from knowing that you cannot say what you do know – it defies articulation. How does one say the “un-say-able”? The fact that something is “un-say-able” does not make it less real/true. The truest elements of our existence transcend articulation.