The knowledge of no knowledge

While you might read the title of this blog and think it sounds rather Zen like and yes, it is. The first time I heard this idea that all knowledge is empty I knew there was something wrong. What I didn’t know was what exactly was wrong or precisely why the statement is wrong. But something is weird about the idea or notion that anything empty when obviously it has to be something. So let’s just move on to something really important and a little less zenish. 

Kimber is now being referred to more often than not as KimB. She, KimB, and I were in the China bizarre store and saw the grabbers were on sale. You know, those poles with a handle on one end where you squeeze the trigger and there’s a set of gripers at the other end that come together when you pull the trigger. You’ve probably seen prisoners working on chain gangs picking up trash using a grabber. Unless you don’t live in the southern states in the United States in which case you probably have never seen a prisoner chain gang. Anyway, KimB said to me that we should pick up trash sometimes when we are out on our walks. We bought two.

Image of Porky Pies restaurant
Shopping at Porky Pies for some meat pies.

With the Covid having shut down most of the tourism industry in Spain, the government has had to lay off a lot of people who used to keep our streets meticulous. There are of course a few places where the streets are looking poorly and our sense of pride gets to working on the subconscious as if something is wrong in the universe. With a trash bag each we meander with her on one side of the street and me the other. Once the bags are full, we find a garbage bin, toss in the bags and then complete our walks. 

I recall a time when someone told me that knowledge is useless. If, for example, you learn two plus two equals four you have gained knowledge. The reason this knowledge is useless isn’t immediately obvious. If you ask yourself did the knowledge of two plus two equals four make it four? Or, was it already four before I knew the factors and the operation of adding? That’s an easy answer of course and in fact the universe doesn’t rely on my knowing the math. Two plus two equals four has been true even before I was born and will be true for the duration of the physical universe. Thereby, applying this logic, knowledge — is useless. Perhaps the better word is empty; knowledge is empty. Since knowledge only exists within the individual, me, then knowledge is only valuable and existing as long as I am aware of it.

Benalmadena Marina from the breakwall.

What a load of stupidity that is, I reasoned. Knowledge isn’t empty. I’ve earned a Master’s Degree in mathematics and an undergraduate degree in engineering. The basics of each are the very simple elements of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Just four tools for all of mathematics and none of which are useless or empty. I built a long and successful career with my knowledge of two plus two, and realized a lot of extravagant and magical events because of my enriched knowledge of mathematics. After acquiring a PhD with my knowledge, I was able to achieve far more in both career, wealth, and life. My wealth, position in life, and all are a direct result of the knowledge I have.

Anyway, once KimB and I have cleaned up a long stretch of sidewalk and roadway, it makes me feel better about having given something. Silly in a way I suppose because for all I know most people who walk and drive down these areas may not be bothered or even aware of the rubbish. In my mind though, I feel like I’m trying to make all our lives a little richer for the effort. I’m retired, and most of the people in this town are working and struggling to get through the days. I’ve been there and I know the strain of the job, the commute, the deadlines and commitments. Whatever the case I just feel like I’m doing something for us all in a very basic and uncomplicated way. A few days later, a wind storm, followed by a few days of rain. The cleaned up pathways are once again starting to collect rubbish, paper, clothing, surgical masks, etc.

Some would shrug, then tell me the world just does what the world does, and maybe some would say the universe doesn’t show you any respect for the cleanup efforts. KimB and I know there’s more rubbish on the planet than we have time for. As the woman who used to do my laundry at the dry cleaner would often say, “life is a dirty business.” I suppose it’s also similar to knowledge being empty.  Our efforts cleaning up the sidewalks and roadways around the town are empty. Perhaps by way of reasoning I can understand the universe isn’t actively adding two plus two to equal four, but it just is that two and four just are without the need for mathematics and addition. Some call the logic “suchness” and when I hear talk of letting go I recognize this is the line of logic they refer to. Mathematics, physics, equations, etc. these are just words. I choose to accept that there is some substance to the formula of addition, but addition is really just mental phenomena. A thought construct. It only has an actual value when I perform an action such as the efforts of my career were possible because my thought constructs became actions. Logically my success then has been a result of the actions I took. 

Paddle boat off the Mississippi River. Now sinking in the Benalmadena harbor.

The universe is in motion, constant action, unceasing in a condition of evolution. Everyone and everything in this universe are in a constant state of simultaneously both evaporating and incarnating. In a word, we call it existence. What we do in this existence, that is, the actions we take in this existence are the only merit that moves forward. Everything else is empty.

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A new president

There’s a lot of good that comes from participating in conversations on social media. While Twitter is fun, I still prefer Facebook. Maybe because I have all of my family and friends on Facebook but just a few on Twitter. For example, the good conversation I had one day with a friend’s friend (FF) went something like this.
Me → I’ve never voted for a Republican and never will.
FF → You’re an idiot just voting for anyone simply because they are a  democrat. Any criminal, sleeaze is good for you as long as they’re democrat! You’re an idiot. 

Joe Biden President of the United States
Joe Biden, President of the United States

This short conversation got no reply from me because I had to think about the best way to answer. On Twitter you cannot give a long reply because the program only allows 140 characters and the page is fluid with conversations making multiple entries impossible; since by the time you’ve completed your reply the conversation has already moved on. This leaves your comments disconnected and sort of lame. With Facebook, I can reply directly to an individual and engage in long paragraphs in a back-and-forth dialogue. Even though you can type a book-long reply on Facebook, there is little chance anyone has time to read more than a few sentences. So, and in this case, I wanted to reply well. Instead of a reply, I found thinking about my reasoning behind my voting strategy sent me on a long self examination of this decision I had made many years before.

Most people I know in the United States have a favorite football team, baseball team, or basketball team. Many have a favorite in all three sports and more besides these. A lot of people have a religion that they proudly claim to be part of or to be a member of. They’ll even self describe as — I’m a catholic, I’m a member of the Muslim community, I’m a scientologist, etc. A lot of people will also tell you they are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc. In all my life though I’ve never heard anyone say something like, well this week I’m a Minnesota Viking because they just traded for quarterback Joe Hooever and I love me some Joe Hooever. I’ve also never heard anyone say something like, I really like to listen to Guru Punipundar so this week I’m a Hindu. Fowling this weeks switch from jesus to hindu they remove all the images of Christ and human sacrifice from the walls of their home and hang in their place images of 100 arm people and elephant head people. A month later the same person decides they are Muslim because they saw a movie about the 1972 Olympics.

Elephants saluting the Buddhas
Elephants salute the Buddhas

Politicians are different from popular sports, religions, movies, and television. Politicians should not be football stars, they aren’t movie stars, and they absolutely are not religious leaders. They are an action or a tool for the principals of a political ideology. What I look for in the ideology of politics, government, sports, religion, whatever, I want to see the foundation of people first, prosperity for everyone, enjoyment and equality for everyone. Neither Democrats nor Republicans or even Libertarians are that political party. That is because capitalism isn’t about people, it’s about greed. For me, Anarchism is the one best government system for the prosperity of all people and since there isn’t an Anarchist party in the United States the Democratic ideology is far closer to human values than Republican ideology but not as close as Socialism. As a living and breathing objectivist, I cannot vote for any other political ideology in the U.S.A. than Democrat.

Objectivism and Anarchism are they the same thing?
The Anarchist

Too long for a Facebook post. People would be better off to read wikipedia to get a base of knowledge for their political choices rather than watch celebrity apprentice on the television or want to be like –what’s her-name–Hilton because she’s so amazing. I’m very much tainted in my philosophical views because of the same social process of living on this planet. Just like everyone else. You know, I’m a product of my generation. I was raised by a stepfather who had no love for me and my sister. He hated people and boldly professed with fist on the dinner table that he hated everyone. He beat me every day without exception, with a strap for three straight years. My mother isolated herself in her bedroom and only appeared when it was time to make a meal or get us off to school. There was no family values, affection, or togetherness. The daily beatings ended when we moved to a larger house and I could, like my mother, stay out of sight. She seemed distraught when I ran from home at age sixteen, and I shaped my life to never be like her and certainly to be nothing like him.

The Final Count (all ballots)

When you look at the map of the United States as the media produces it at election time you can see the states, and all of the counties in those states. The media adopts a method of using red to color in counties where a majority of people vote for the Republican ideology and blue for those counties where a majority of people vote for the Democratic ideology. I find it telling the true story of the ideology’s — People First Focus– by the color of isolation. What I mean is, when you look at the larger metropolitan counties these areas are mostly blue: Democratic. The people tend to enjoy being with lots of other people and facing the challenges of life together with many other people is preferable. Likewise, the rural areas where people can live more isolated and far away from any other people are usually red, Republicans. Religion colored maps follow much the same suit. The fewer the people in an area the less likely you are to find a diversification of beliefs. 

Benalmadena Marina
Benalmadena, Spain Marina

My mother and stepfather (deceased) who hate people and have acceptance for only one religion live in one of the red, isolated, counties. I naturally moved and lived in the largest cities and have spent most of my life learning about all ideologies for government, religion, humanitarianism, science, technology, and most of all I am on a quest for knowledge. Ever the objectivist, me.

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This is easy enough

The first time I heard someone say this life is suffering I thought no it isn’t.  I’ve always had the internal voice of a contrarian. Especially toward authority my instinct has always been to suspect the motives behind the rhetoric. It didn’t matter to me if the authority was church, school, police, government, or parental. My internal voice told me to be skeptical, trust no one. My only chance to be safe and in control of my own happiness was simple enough. All I had to do was to trust only one person; me. There’s no suffering because I believe in myself and therefore I’m in control of my own destiny. 

In my simplistic way of understanding the complexity of capitalism, the economic model is simply a game of musical chairs. We start out with fewer chairs than there are people. We force everyone to walk around the chairs in clockwise motion and later we allow them the freedom to choose between clockwise or counterclockwise. From time to time we stop the music and everyone scrambles for a chair. But of course there aren’t enough chairs. We remove the people who were unable to get a chair, remove more chairs and start the game again. Slowly the system eliminates the failed people and only the strong succeed. Or at least these are the words (failed, succeed)  we can choose to call those who cannot find a chair when the music stops a failed-loser and call those who do successful-winners. Capitalism requires failed-losers and is designed to drive more and more people over time into poverty in order to have as few successful-winners as the system can cause.

Equally simplistic my way of understanding the complexity of socialism, the economic model is simply a game of red rover. We start out with small groups of people who form human chains by holding hands. From time to time one group will call out the name of someone from another chain-group. The named individual then charges the chain of the group who called them and tries to break through the clasped hands of any two people in the chain. If the chain breaks they join the chain by taking their place in the line fixing the broken link. If they fail they go back to their place of origin. Over time the small groups of chains merge into a single chain of stronger links with no one left out.

I find it simple to choose when given a choice in this life between living in the world with a high potential to lose my chair or to live in a world where I’m a vital link to the whole chain. I love being a part of the whole chain where we all realize how we contribute as an individual and rely on everyone else too.

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