Friday, January 30, 2009

The Juggernaut

What draws me to the fire?
To be in its presence is like a steel-smelting furnace with its white intensity,
Much like the futility of ignoring a campfire in the blackest night.
What draws me to the fire is the sight of myself with the skin gone, and soul aflame.
But I abhor that consuming heat because it responds only to that which is hot.
And it consumes, it consumes, and consumes
The Darkness, all... it is relentless.
Its world only of light, fury, and heat.
And I wonder as I contemplate the fire; to it, what has infinite intrinsic value?
And still, with interest, it consumes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Conversation on Ego, Immortality, and Admiration

If all else fails, immortality can be always assured by spectacular error."   -  John K. Galbraith
This is an existential trick on the ego:  The fact we would consider screwing up the world in order to be remembered is the ultimate irony of ego.
Be used by a purpose greater than your desires.  Inside of that, be willing to deny some of your desires, not all, but some.
Let's distinguish Success - what does it mean?
Distinction Success - it's empty and meaningless.  After I die, I will turn to dust, and after a time no one will remember.  Why should one star demand to shine more than the others?  Herein lies the ego's wish to be immortal.  
The ultimate win is lasting admiration.  We are addicted to approval.  The ego craves these things and will do anything to avoid disapproval and failure.
Ask yourself, "how do I spend or invest my resources;  money, social capital, gifts, talents?  And what does my ego get out of it?  Can I be satisfied to spend without any acknowledgment whatsoever, or even be satisfied with constant disapproval and/or failure?"  If I require success and admiration, I am collapsed into ego.  
"As he put the vial of poison to his lips, he realized there were two of him, one an egotistical asshole and his higher self, and the asshole was about to kill them both."
But there's nothing wrong with death either, and if we experience no anxiety about dying alone and soon forgotten, then we have found the egoless death.  Immortality is a paradoxical hoax, for the only truly immortal constants are outside the realm of memory.  Immortality can belong to no individual, it can only belong to everything that has ever been. 
Post Scriptum:  Thank you, Jess for your contributions (in blue) to this conversation!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Post Post Scriptum: Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers talks about the radically successful and how they came to be so extraordinary. And he says it really does involve major moments of luck - redeemed or cashed in. Unmissed moments of opportunity so rare and often so bizarre that it makes your head spin. I've heard tales of a gentleman from New York who was more than likely the first in flight, perhaps a year earlier than Wilbur and Orville (sorry Losantville!). So many similar stories would fill several books, so much so, that we know this as a major narrative of humanity. Just ask Darwin's elder colleague J Wallace, who fell into obscurity, and during his own time consented to call the theory Darwinism even though, for several reasons, his ideas first appeared on the scene. So the narrative of luck and recorded/remembered history in the realm of success is also rich and sordid topic indeed. If part of success is how(much) we are remembered, then so much of that is also a crap shoot, a gamble as well.