#Idea – When Your Art Can Be Turned Into An Algorithm You Are No Longer Useful / 20.04.17

If your art can be reduced to a science
Then an algorithm can replace what you do.

And since, on a macro level everything can be reduced to physics
Any art could theoretically be reduced to a science
Given enough time and study.

And, if this is so,
What is to become of you and me?

That said…
Perhaps the algorithm can replace what you do
But it cannot replace who you are
And so the focus in future may be upon human beings
As oppose to human doings.

Image Credit: Google DeepDream

#Idea – Memento Iuvenalis / Remember Your Youth / 12.01.17

When you see an elderly person
Or anyone struggling with (…or against?) the inevitable march of time
You could see an opportunity to remember your common humanity
And to share the burden of the human condition.

You could see as a chance to remember that,
As carbon based life – we were given these amazing but fragile bodies
Prone to errors in repair and replication
And quickly breaking down

This is neither good, nor bad – it just is.

And so, this person in front of you is an opportunity
To remember that we are all dying together
…although this particular person is probably closer to the end point than you are
And probably feeling the pull more than you are.

And, no matter how well he’s taking it
(…we do hope he’s taking it well)
Maybe he can teach you something by his example
Perhaps to treasure your youth whilst you have it
No matter how old you are.

elderly black and white photo
Photo by Anne Worner

When I look at an ‘old person’
Dealing with what appears to be this slow catastrophe
This thing we call ageing
I can’t help but feel some admiration.

I watch him weathering the storm;
Unwinding telomeres
Failing strength
Fading memory.
But there he is
Still going
And I can’t help thinking;
That’ll be me one day, if something else doesn’t get me first
Maybe I can learn something through his example

‘Youth’ as an idea is slippery slope
Such a relative concept
I remember some acquaintances from when I was 11
(…those a little too old to be properly called my friends)
Men, I suppose, in their early 20s who seemed so old, strong, distinguished, unknowable
Now I am 29, these fresh faced 22 year olds
Worry me with their youth and their inexperience
They affect me with the things they have already done with their short lives
What they might yet do.

I look at them with a sense of loss that I can’t help but feel
I lament the hours I feel that I wasted when I was their age
They too, in their own and very unintentional way, are a memento:
I’m 29 – not old exactly ‘old’,
But there they are all the same
Being many years my junior

And with them is a sense of the abrasive nature of time
Wearing away at my body and my psyche
A little voice in my head
Telling me that I need to ‘get on with it’.

young people black and white photo

Problem is, I don’t really know what ‘it’ is
And so I suppose this age gap
Reminds me to examine the trajectory my life is taking
By looking at back at how I got here
What I was doing then.

It’s more than a little neurotic, no doubt about it.

Hell,
Maybe when I’m 80,
I’ll be looking back on those spry 60 year olds in much the same way
Or maybe I’ll be dead
Who knows.

‘Age’, is almost a synonym for ‘youth’
And just prone to the same amount of relativity
Someone once proclaimed that ‘you are as old as you feel’
That person was probably not a decade older than 70
(…though I may be wrong).

So,
What is age but a reminder?
Whether you look forward or backwards
In this way everybody; older or younger, could be seen as a memento mori
A memento of life;
What you had
Or
What’s left of it
No matter how much is left of it.

elderly laughing black and white photo
Photo by .through my eyes.

We should cherish the elderly
Frail;
Living, breathing
(…sometimes barely breathing at that )
Reminders:

“Memento Iuvenalis”:
Remember your youth
No matter how old you are

Cover image credit: KasunChamara

#ThoughtExperiment – The Tall Monkeys / 06.03.17

Imagine a group of monkeys in an enclosure…

They are all dressed in costumes of varying appearance and quality

The enclosure is full of possessions

These possessions are distributed unequally

Naturally

Some monkeys have managed to acquire more elaborate costumes and more possessions than others

When you look at the monkeys

Perhaps you admire the monkey’s craftiness or strength,

Evident in the means it used to acquire more possessions

(…or perhaps you don’t?)

But in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a monkey with more things than the other monkeys

And maybe next week another monkey will have taken some of these things away from it

.
You do not judge one with more possessions as any ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any of the others

(…do you?)

black and white monkey photo
Photo by warriorwoman531

No, if you were to make such a judgement

You would try to do this by a glimpse into its character

…insofar as you can get to know the character of an ape by observing it for a few minutes through the glass or bars of an enclosure.

.
Don’t underestimate anyone

Conversely

Don’t overestimate anyone

Because in many ways,

We’re not so different from these monkeys

Though we do have slightly cooler stuff and more sophisticated explanations of the status quo.

Cover Photo by wwarby

#Idea – Islam / “The Devil Can Cite Scripture For His Purpose” / 12.03.17

These days, many label Muslims who choose not to interpret Islam in the politically correct manner as ‘Islamists’.
Perhaps to get around the sensitive issue that they are still Muslims
Just interpreting the Quran in a different way

Interpretation is the issue here
Most every extreme stance an ‘Islamist’ takes
Or extreme act that they commit
Can be justified by what is written in the Quran.
i.e: most of the time they aren’t making this stuff up,
There is an ayah (‘verse’) that can be interpreted in favour of the massacre
(…and quite often another ayah that contradicts it)
Don’t believe me? Take a look in the book yourself.

Perhaps it is worth considering
When the entire basis of a belief system
Stems from what parts
Of a single archaic and self contradictory text
You choose to interpret
Who or what can be said to be ‘right’?

article critical of islam - mosque black and white
Disregard doctrine, acquire aesthetics

It is a simple matter of justification
And as long as it is written down there somewhere
You can justify it
Just ignore the contrary passages and plough on
(…and people do)

This brings up another point,
You can’t really practice Islam or Christianity by the book
Because the book fucking contradicts itself.
This is perhaps why we call it a ‘belief system’
Instead of a ‘reality system’.

And this is the problem with any cause (i.e religion)
That argues from an infallible position
Refusing to examine itself critically
Yes, an old cliche
But this inability to entertain or practice self doubt
Is the difference between science and fanaticism
Put another way, if you ‘know’ you’re right
What’s the point in second guessing your actions?
You’re right, after all.

Is reform an answer?
I don’t know
I am not an expert on theological law, nor a Muslim.
If Islam reforms itself to better a fit an inclusive, post global worldview – will/can it still be Islam?
Islam means ‘submission’.
It is full of verses that remind its followers to spread the faith by any means
Any means
Yes, you can be a moderate Muslim and ignore these verses
But this, by its very definition, isn’t practicing Islam ‘by the book’
So, really, to change this, you’d have to literally have to throw out the book
(…disregarding the my point above it is impossible to follow something with total fidelity that contradicts itself)

article critical of islam - quran in black and white
Image Credit: Pexels

Think about this word, ‘fundamentalist’
You cannot be a fundamentalist without fundamentals
And, whatever you think about the ‘Islamist’ fundamentalists, they are NOT hypocrites
Sure, we may not agree with them
(…I know I don’t)
But they’re just doing what it says in the book
(…or should I say, in some parts of the book)

Will such a worldview as it is now even survive in the long term?
Who knows?
…what does history teach us?

Cover Image Credit: Thinhan