• Tag Archives truth
  • Imagination

    Mid-Summer                                            New Honey Extraction Moon

    “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

    Logic revealed itself to me in Symbolic Logic I at Wabash College.  Professor Larry Hackstaffe taught it and I struggled like a flopping fish for six weeks, right up to the first test.  I studied and studied, but it made no sense to me.  On the day of the first test I went in and Bam, it was there.  Locked into place and flowing.

    This anecdote shows a strange reality about logic.  You have to learn how to use it and when you do the learning curve is not necessarily progressive, moving from one logical step to another, rather it proceeds in the manner of insight and intuition.  After you get, logic will get you from A to Z and show you how you got there.  You can also show others how you got there.  You can use it suss out weaknesses in the arguments of others and in your own arguments.

    Here’s the rub, though.  Beginnings.  Assumptions.  What do you assume when you begin your logical journey?  If we accept the two ideas of mortality and Socrates, we can use the famous syllogism, if all men are mortal and Socrates is a man, then Socrates is mortal.  If, however, we believe in, say, reincarnation, then this syllogism cannot make sense.  Or, to take a more current example, if the debt ceiling is not a critical political issue to you, then all the arguments in the world about how to control it will be nonsense.

    Logic has a power in its crisp, repeatable steps and its ability to say whether one thing truly follows from another, but it has only limited use in the realm of the good, the true and the beautiful.  Truth, even.  Yes, truth lies outside logic’s realm.  Logical can tell whether you a conclusion follows from its argument, but it cannot tell you whether it is a good conclusion or a bad conclusion.  That is the realm of value.

    Imagination allows us, encourages us, to consider conclusions not dreamt of in your philosophy.  Or mine.  Imagination allows to go all non-Euclidean on geometry.  It pushed past Newton and into General and Special relativity.  Imagination flows into realms never conceived and into ideas never before entertained.  Our imagination may be the most wondrous organ of all.  The imaginal lobe, wherever it resides, dreams and schemes, rearranges and redesigns with no necessary allegiance to fact, truth, goodness or badness.

    Imagination is dangerous, yes, but also beautiful.  I’m with Einstein, I want to go every where.

  • Memorable

    Lughnasa                                            Waning Grandchildren Moon

    Katie slipped her hands around my arm and stroked.  Then stopped and put some pressure on.  Then stroked some more.  Katie was my birthday present from a thoughtful wife.  She learned her trade from Sister Rosalind and the Sister’s school for massage.  I’m feeling knot and kink free.  Massage clears out the mind as well as the muscles.  As Katie moved around my body, memories came flooding back.  Mom’s hands on my neck when I had polio.  The Alexandria 4-H county fair.  That afternoon in Bangkok when I let a tiny Thai woman loose on my just ruptured achilles, not knowing what it was.  Steel fingers and pain.  Lots of pain.  Then the night I stepped in the sewer grate while my body moved forward and my right foot stayed in place.  Body memories, unlocked by Katie.

    Memories have a fluid, slippery existence, just like Katie’s hands as she followed the process of my spine from neck to tail.  As I write about Mom and polio, an image of stuffing tissues into hardware cloth followed.  The float for homecoming for my class, seniors at last.  Being pulled away from that by who?  I don’t recall.  Then I was in Anderson, 9 miles away, at St. John’s hospital where my mother had been taken after collapsing while serving a funeral dinner.  After that the sculpted green plastic and aluminum tubing of waiting room furniture at Riley Memorial in Indianapolis.  Mom on a gurney, now 7 days after stroke, me riding with her as they took for an operation.  She reached away from me and said, “Son.”  The last words I heard from her.  The painful early morning talk with my father, should we remove the life supports?  Yes, we both decided.  Yes.  Then the funeral.  And the days and weeks and months after where I failed to integrate mom’s death as a powerful life lesson and instead took it as an emotional blast that rocked my very foundations.

    Bangkok, stumbling away from the 7-11 and the amulet stand in front of it, hurrying to get to the ATM.  Traffic making me anxious, not careful.  Blinding pain, yet running anyway because of the traffic, the cars.  All the traffic and the cars.  The night air humid as the flashing neon of Chinatown bathed the sidewalk in alternating colors, like the northern lights.

    As I know, we change our memories each time we access them, so all of these events, crucial as they are to my story, may not represent the truth at all, at least not the veridical, the actual truth.  But, in a more important way, they are the most truthful of all since they are the truth that has shaped my response to all these things and the thousands more accreted over the years of my life so far.  Even my account of the massage, who knows how close it is?  Yet the feeling lingers.  Good.  Feeling.

  • I’m with Rev. Wright

    44  bar rises 29.89 0mph SW dewpoint 23  Beltane

                  Waning Crescent Moon of Growing

    A first tonight.  A salad made from lettuce I cut from the plants in our kitchen.  Enough for two with plenty left on the plants.  So, one test of the hydroponics down, a few more to go.  I want to produce tomatoes and herbs on a year round basis, while also using the setup to start plants for the outside garden.  Flowers, too, would perk up the kitchen and the inside, especially in winter.  Slow, steady.  Learning as we go.

    Kate has tomorrow off, unexpectedly, so we’re going to go over to NOW fitness and buy a new treadmill.  Tres exciting.

    Looks like a couple of good days for outside work Sunday and Monday.  I have plenty to do.

    I haven’t said anything here about Rev. Wright and Barrack Obama.  I’m with Rev. Wright.  I know, I know.  He comes off like a fruitcake, an angry voice untethered from day to day reality.  His sermons are strident, cut deep.  His critique of American society as a racist, vicious culture seems to describe a place none of us know.  And we don’t.

    Preaching has a long and complicated history.  Its strongest and its most dangerous form comes when a minister decides she must speak truth to power.  This always, always comes from a particular situation which the minister holds up to the Christian tradition, most often scripture in the Protestant community of which Rev. Wright is a part.  The preaching task is never done in the abstract; it is always a spoken word to a people, a spoken word shaped by the scriptural and historical roots of today’s Christian church.  When the community to which you speak and from you yourself come have experienced marginilization, unearned disadvantage, then the spoken word will express the truth of God’s justice to the powerful forces aligned against your community.

    This type of preaching is never easy.  It costs blood.  It often produces pain.  Clergy who insist on prophetic preaching, because they feel they can do nothing else, often lose their jobs, get branded as crazy, misguided, idealistic, out of touch.  This is just power talking back, trying to press the truth to the margins again, where it can be contained.  We, that this those of us in the white upper-middle classes do not know what it means to live as marginal persons, bereft of influence, beholden to power.  We are the main-stream, the influential, the holders of power.

    Naming truth hurts.  But, as Jesus said, the truth shall set you free.  But, he might have added, only after a really long painful time.  Even so, it doesn’t make the truth any less true.   

    I never served a congregation as a minister for just this reason.  I knew my politics were too radical for a congregation of Presbyterians.  The tension and pain would not have had  a constructive outcome.  Rev. Wright made a different calculation and I support him in it.