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Discounted


(Published 2010 – written over 2008, 2009)

I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy

Robert Burton.


Introduction

Most of this latest blog post has taken me a remarkably long amount of time to actually assemble my sometimes ambiguous emotions into words.  It has been particularly difficult to introspect the thought processes that truly reflect the dysfunctional stream of consciousness, whilst writing from a retrospective viewpoint, and I have tried to do so with particular emphasis on delineating the situation as it was, without chronological bias.  I have then also proceeded to analyse such emotions, to bridge the gap between cause and effect.

Defeating stigma associated with mental disorders is really important to me, and such an aim can only be achieved through education and understanding of the processes involved – the stigma mainly relates to a patronising view of mental health issues as due to a vague intrinsic weakness and failures of self perseverance, however, this stigma reflects an ignorance of context, an ignorance of the richness of an individual’s history, an ignorance of the effects of life events, cultural factors, genetic inheritance amongst a myriad of other things that have shaped a person. Poor mental health manifestations are explainable through cause and effect specific to their life – it is essential that we both understand this, and subsequently be able to assist bring about responsible change and self empowerment in such individuals.

Here, I attempt to delineate my encounters with depressional states, that have affected me for the past few years of my life – I write this both as a personal endeavour, as a chance to explicitly sort out and finally take a look back and understand my sometimes incessantly automated musings (a detailed inventory of my subconscious if you will…), but also as something that will hopefully be able to help anyone either be able to understand themselves or understand the reasons behind the actions of those who might be going through a similar episode.

It is not however a reflective critique on the actions of those immediately around me.  I do not blame others for their responses, nor do I hold others responsible for the emotional encounters that I describe.  I was my own worst enemy, and this is something I want to portray, and there was little anyone else could do to develop insight.  In a way, I am enlightened by this experience, and although I wouldn’t go as far as saying I wanted it, it was certainly insightful, and I feel I can learn from it.

Of course, this is a purely subjective analysis, and I feel is particularly associated to a past life experience of mine, which I describe later and hence may not be reflective of anyone else specifically.  However, through this personal case study, I hope that generalisations can be made, which can help others.

Abhishek.

…Discounted…


Hours…

Days…

Weeks had passed since I felt that I was able to do something useful with my life.

The concept of utility in society, such an important desire to maintain existence…

…where had that all gone?

 

Several years ago, I had reached a vicious state, blind to the fact that disorder was incorporated as my only order.  During one of my debilitating episodes, I decided to write my stream of consciousness out onto here.

I would wake up each day paralysed in my bed, and this diary entry was pretty similar to how I felt every morning for a year when I was stuck in the wretched dysfunctional hole of stasis…


“Looking in the mirror.  What do I see.

No understanding.  Stuck in desolateness.  Can’t stand myself.

My mind tires me out.  I don’t want to stay in these cyclical useless thoughts.

Majority of my plans never achieve reality, every single tiring day.

I give up.

What do I know?  What do I deserve?

No progress.  No point.
Void of reason.  Void of logic.  Haunted by choices.  Haunted by inability.

Days merge into one.

My day begins with eyes closed, forcefully clutching the sheets whilst hiding beneath from the sunlight piercing through the curtains.

Safe from the outside world, I sense time must be passing by ruthlessly leaving me behind.

I tell myself ,


“Abhishek, you should have left the house 15 minutes ago”, …

But I can’t leave.  I want to but I can’t.  This isn’t happening.  I can’t be late.  I close my eyes.  Hope.
Please make my faults go away.  A flashback.   A tear slides down.

Yet I know I shall still be here for the next quarter of an hour, for the next hour, for the next 3 hours and beyond.

Yet I know that inaction leads to worse consequences.


Yet I know…  But then I don’t.  My arms won’t move.  My legs won’t move.

 

Please make it go away.

The problems remain.  The faults remain.

Stuck in this interminable dark pit of recurrence, I struggle to find the rope to get out of here.  When I find it, I am afraid of climbing it, because I know I’ll fall again before I ever even get a glimpse of the top.

I ask myself, is this simply a gross nonsensical demonstration of laziness?

To be honest, I hoped it was.  But is laziness so chronic?  I know I am lazy, but I can’t explain this.  I am no different to a corpse; I wish I was a corpse.

What is it exactly I wanted to do?  What is it I want to do?  What, Abhishek, what?

These questions which seemed to be intrinsically answered before, fail to generate any feeling within me anymore.  Empty, I answer, I don’t know.

Why do you wake up every day?  Why do you want to do that?  What does it truly mean, beyond the values placed by society?

Observing the hoards of people going up and down the escalators at Kings Cross yesterday, I couldn’t
help but truly admire the fact that nearly everyone I saw there, had some objective, some desire they wanted to carry out in this existence – a desire derived either from a sense of religion or existentialism – both of which elude me…

How can I develop any more… with

A poor memory

No structure?

To gain 1 from 0.  How is that possible?  Where will I gain structure from, if I never had any in the first place?  I can’t remember 2 hours ago.  I can’t remember yesterday.  All I remember are unconnected, unimportant, random painful times.

Compromise is reached and I awake.  It has gone past midday, I might still be able to make two lectures out of the 6 we had today.  There are those who have regularly caught up, who are always there, I want to learn, I want to understand, but why am I my worst enemy?

Better late than never.  But then better never, if nothing is there.  What is better?  What do I mean?  It seems too nonsensical, but genuinely, I haven’t got a clue about anything.

I get ready.  I leave the house.  Even though I miss the morning, I still just about get there.  I change my mood.  No one should know.

The day goes by, I am happy for everyone else around me, they achieve their objectives and I want to
help them do so, they progress and I stay the same.

I return home.  Then I remember I exist.  I have a life.

I am supposed to have something I want to achieve myself, don’t I?
Or, I’d just end up a bum in society.
And that’s a failure in life isn’t it?

I don’t want to do that.

I fall asleep late in the night until I feel the pain of tomorrow.
And the cycle continues.

Where is the catalyst for change if I feel I am too far gone?

Not a clue.

Just like everything else.

Another tear falls as I collapse into bed, hidden away, if only I could be gone forever…”

The quanta of informational streams overburdened my mind.

These were streams of information from society, which I had been sheltered from during my upbringing, were now everywhere.  I struggled to understand the alternative meaning of words and actions, which others so readily take for granted.  Or more likely, there was a gross overanalysis, to reach predetermined conclusions that compounded my sense of inadequacy.

A lot of my previous analysis only came from a very controlled environment – now I was surrounded by so many concepts, ideas and my curiosity was set ablaze, fuelled by the expanding thought processes induced by increasing isolation.

Never before had I experienced something so overwhelming – observing mechanisms and occurrences of society – here were the effects manifested in front of me daily; what were the causes, how did it all come to
this, what did it fundamentally imply (–
where there was any fault, surely I must be at fault)?

Soon, I realised I couldn’t answer, without realising my futility.

By myself, this developed to an absolute conclusion – I knew nothing.

The foundations fell to rubble, the hole grew darker, and existence ended up separated from the existential essence – a true separation of the transcendental mind and body, and a resultant inability to synthesise
order from the chaos that is manifestly apparent.

Here I shall only explore the reality of such immensely illusive states; states of mind that deviate so much from any sense of normality, and which require immense effort to extricate from.

I shall also outline my overall judgment, now being able to effectively (or I have that belief that it is effective) look back then at myself outside myself – the common factors were the self dissociation and negatively orientated assumptions readily generated by the destructively predisposed mind…

Looking back on the introductory scenario, it demonstrated the internal anguish of an existential crisis, with respect to a constant questioning of the basis of the merits of my own personal existence.  Such questions with a predisposition to intense childhood inadequacies and self criticisms in self image, conduct, and self worth could only lead to devastating consequences – which in my case, was chronic inaction.

The waves of negative self judgments were enhanced through a period of self escalating seclusion.  It was associated both with the concept of fulfilling one’s own prophecy, but also as a deviation between what was once used to be you, and was expected to become of yourself in the foreseeable future – which is a particularly distressing and disabling thought.

In other words, my deviation further from the expectations of how I should conduct my behaviour in particular social groups that I felt I once associated with, (in social situations, people develop impressions and form expectations of behaviour, which can become interrelated, after getting to know someone well), which in my mind was deviating how I presented myself from being a cheerful, joyful and random person, meant that I should no longer assort with these any more, not due to any lack of care or joy of people (which shortly I shall explain that this is how it is seen by “other” people”), which is experienced when around these groups, but instead the self judgment that these groups would no longer readily accept the deviated persona, and thus be shunned through a negative, yet fairly placed (to me/the depressed individual anyway) sentiment.

Call it, a concept of relative self preservation through a concept of “quitting whilst you’re ahead”.

Ironically though, it would serve to intensify the deviation of the persona from reality even further, and make further interactions less likely, therefore forming a very dysfunctional way of attempting relative self preservation through (absolute) self destruction.

The concept of a self fulfilling prophecy was linked to this mental health issue, as essentially the negative predictions of being useless, “void of reason, logic”, etc are confirmed through positive feedback interactions between this belief and behaviour.

These fleeting ideas synergised very well with practical manifestations –

  • The fleeting mind exhaustively worked overtime throughout the night, and only allowed me to sleep as the sun began to rise again.
  • This poor sleep hygiene meant it was pretty much impossible to conduct any activity in daylight – a time when most are awake.

·
Waking up paralysed – I knew I had to get out of bed and do something, but I felt too weak to raise myself from the bed, too weak to face the day – too afraid to face what life seemed to require of me – I did not have any energy, I felt I was no better than a corpse.

ibl  Possibly aggravating the aforementioned effects, I lost the notion of hunger and thirst – I would somehow remember to eat a meal a day, and drink a glass of water.  Nothing mattered any more – I didn’t care about what I should be doing to survive, regularly I felt death would be of a greater value (ie: which had no value) than existence (which carried a negative value – living was torture).

I    I would wake up late in the day, after many lectures were being delivered, and which I didn’t have the strength to attend – I realised by each day my knowledge deficit increased at an alarmingly exponential rate, and my knowledge base deteriorated even further – I had no reason for being known, due to being so shamefully ignorant and obtuse.

· A failure by the demands of society, of which I wasn’t sure of and so overwhelmed – I would cry back to sleep once more.

Th Thus far, you may have been able to empathise with the delineated mental and physical processes, and seen some similarities to what you may have felt during your lifetime, alternately, it may seem as something farfetched from anything that you may have possibly experienced; to those who haven’t experienced such effects, a way of dissecting its rationale may come through examining several fundamental questions…

1

What is the answer to the question on what drives our perception of reality? – Is it only the sense
of cohesion to those people or objects that we see?

2

How important is the ability to control that which is around us?

This perception is severely dysfunctional at times of depressional states, and concepts of reality are found to be completely intangible (ie: Lack of cohesion).  The only thing that restores perception, and most importantly, control, is the affirmation/feedback that thoughts and ideas are real, through its testing in real life/world scenarios.

Being able to successfully predict the future from time to time provides security about our existence and reality.  In the depressive, it provides a dysfunctional satisfaction (not in the same sense by that experienced by someone who maintains good mental health) from vindication that “for once”, (ie: through a concept of global, stable internal attributions) the person is right – this is what I shall call the dysfunctional hypothesis! This dysfunctional hypothesis is compounded by the additional paradigm of thought where the individual will seek to interpet events through a particular “filter” to reach a predetermined conclusion – for example, perceiving events to validate the conclusion, “I am useless” – another form of self validation.

The existential insecurity through dysfunctional logic and destructively oriented defence mechanisms paradoxically can conclude a (dysfunctional) security:

Even though there is an unspoken desire for things to improve (and possible desire for attention and extrinsic support – “someone to watch over you”), one “knows” through a sense of existential insecurity that their situation will remain the same (ie: overtly negative) or deteriorate, and in order to deal with the insecurities of the self, the depressive can paradoxically make the future secure (this “dysfunctional security”) through inactivity and consequent failure – yet success in their initial dysfunctional hypothesis.

A particular example of this is the concept of how depressed individuals relate to their social support frameworks (ie: friends) at times of emotional stress.  In a very stereotypical situation (and one I believe that is significant in harbouring the problem), during the early stages of depressive episodes, an individual will either completely socially isolate themselves, or may test out their feelings or relate their feelings in someone they feel they can trust.

Initial reactions by friends may usually include that of empathy and uncertainty, but rather rapidly made postulations that the depressed individual has a warped sense of reality (intended in a constructive manner – but commonly seen as patronising by the individual), and that they should see the “other side”, and move on with their lives.

At this stage, the depressed individual who is not too far gone, can either relate to this other point of view, and turn away from the dark slippery slide into depression that is placed in front of them, and move towards positive attitudes towards coping with the problems at hand OR tend further into the depressive state on account of them feeling worse about their disclosure.

It could also lead the original person to feel worse about themselves, as they realise that the person who has given them this insight may have a perfectly valid point, but only when viewed through a particular filter – a filter that tends more towards the positive, and something that the individual desperately longs for (through a nostalgic interpretation that things may have been better in the past, or an intense desire for things to change, but success is too distant) – thereby giving “more evidence” to the individual that they are useless.

To the “normal” friend, it seems illogical to remain in this depressed state, and they believe that the depressed individual isn’t seeing their point of view.  The problem is – the depressed individual has thought about their situation over and over repeatedly, and even considered other possibilities much to the point of
absolute mental exhaustion.  However, no matter how positive a particular form of action is advocated (“Snap out of it – do this and everything will be alright”), the beneficial thought is not enough to “distract” the mind from the initial fundamental insecurities that plague the self.

  • It is not enough, because desire is dampened.
  • Desire is dampened because of fundamental insecurities.
  • Fundamental insecurities develop from reinforcement of negative hypotheses related to the self –affirmed through past experiences.

 

Self Harm – Self vs Body mutilation – body mutilation might help coping with emotion through separation of the two entities.

Self harm has been stereotypically seen as “a cry for help” in overwhelmed depressives – this negative classification of simply “attention seeking” has led to many viewing it as a rather futile endeavour; this emotional superciliousness could actually aggravate such behaviours, instead of persuading those in such situations to not resort to such actions to deal with the mental anguish.

The cry for help may be one of many reasons for this line of action – through the pain, and physical marks, the individual is able to demonstrate suffering and pain to elicit much needed statements of attention and sympathy to satisfy the self and restore some form of worth without explicitly expressing the reasoning behind their problems, when in some situations, it is too difficult to realistically describe.

Another possible reason, could be a sense of reintegration into reality after periods of dissociation, as the immense pain felt itself is felt as real, more real than any other action that is seen as mundane by default, or when one feels no different to death – thereby resulting in a satisfaction of translating those intangible circular depressional thoughts into something tangible.

Additionally, the desire to feel hated, to feel pain, to feel absolutely wretched which is what can be a very significant drive.  Negative thoughts about the self have been lurking for a while, and to satisfy these thoughts, there must be some sense of punishment that the individual must go through, to atone for their current state.  The rush afterwards that for atoning for past sins is an addictive one, as it leads to a sense of relief – however, this leads to another dysfunctional cycle and can once again aggravate problems.

During those dark periods, apart from all those general reasons outlined above, my principal reason was to administer some form of karma towards myself (ie: have control), this action was needed as I had become a “bad” person, and I deserved this pain, no one else could convince me otherwise.  I realised it didn’t sort
anything out, yet, it was a dangerous addiction when the mind is so self destructive, but thankfully, it is something I have learnt to move on from.

 

Sexual abuse

This is a particularly emotional topic for me to discuss.  I only discuss it here as a desire to let go and move on from this previous secret that encumbers me, and to aid understanding of how people may generally rationalise such events.

I had experienced such profoundly negative experiences back in the academic year 4/5, I do forget the exact age, but around Christmas time, and the summer after.  As I recall those experiences, I immediately feel this somewhat fresh intensely nauseating childhood fear envelope my developed and theoretically matured mind.

Initially though, I had lived with this burden throughout school, without telling anyone, even my parents for fear of “stirring things up” or causing unrest.  In terms of rationalisation, I acquired that firmly held belief of guilt, that maybe I should have spoken up, said something at that time – instead of suffering in silence.  I don’t know if I was afraid at the time or just the extreme sentiment of shame, I should have said or done something to stop it.  I don’t know why I didn’t – essentially I was to blame for that happening to me.

You could say that I did the whole job of “repressing” this memory – to be honest, despite the underlying associations to how I defined my personal identity – it was something that I had blanked out of my mind, and to be honest, in retrospect pretty well.

But, I don’t know why, this memory returned.  It returned vivid than ever.  I could visually see those moments.  Moments I should have spoken up, said something, to make him go away.  I remember feeling intensely nauseous and actually spontaneously being sick simply through these flashbacks.  The feelings were too intense, and particularly appeared during depressive episodes, where I was in a state of chronic stasis, such as the episode I delineated at the start of this - these recurrent flashbacks led to one of the most debilitating moments of my existence (comparable to the abuse itself); it begged the question whether life was worth continuing, and is something I shall discuss shortly.

I feel that these profound feelings of guilt, self blame, shame, nausea resulted in a form of learned helplessness – behaving helplessly in situations, despite the possibility of effecting change to reach a more positive outlook.  This elicited feelings that I attributed to fatigue/laziness in the opening scenario, but essentially it was due to the sense of the lack of control and self confidence that defined my identity in the sexually abusive scenarios that evoked these manifestations of passivity and lack of desire.

But why did the intensity suddenly engulf me a decade down the line? – I felt I had effectively pushed it all to the darkest depths of my mind – why were the flashbacks and feelings to intensely overwhelming and paralysing more than ever?

Personally, my existential crisis preceded these flashbacks by a month or two – I believe that the desire to explain emotional or thought processes later on in life (ie: the self’s regular re-evaluation of identity) through a negatively predisposed filter can dig up retrospective attributions which have greater intensity on account of experience reassessing the gravity of the past life events, when it may have occurred in more emotionally naïve circumstances – in a sense, feeling pity for the self, when one didn’t at the time – as the seriousness of the situation is reanalysed, and seen to be much graver than what was once thought. In a sense, the self of the future feels immense sympathy for the self of the past, and deals with the situation through a maintenance of those emotions – not sure if it is due to a subconscious execution of karma – if the past felt bad, so should the future, or simply a heightened interpretation of repressed emotion.

It is a commonly held notion that abusive or distressing memories should not be repressed and that it is constructive to share feelings – is this true?  I do not know if it is true for all situations, but it does deserve more thought.

 

Suicide

During those dark times, when all you feel you know is how to be miserable, and not see any reasonable solution to how you are feeling, an eventual inevitable thought is whether each day has any worth in existence.  Quantitatively, life is seen as having a negative value, and no life is seen as a better option, and a drive for death – a thanatos and destrudo develop. Once again, a common notion is that suicide is seen as a “next step” building on from the pain experienced in self harm.  But, I feel in most cases, suicide is not about an extreme event of enduring pain – it is the opposite – it is more about the perceived relief of the pain of existence.

Also, the blanket sentiment that such acts represent “cowardice” is truly ignorant.

A person to ideate such events represents a significantly emotionally dark point in one’s life, and in such circumstances, in addition to a dysfunctional perception of the self, there can be an inability to realistically acknowledge the aftermath of such actions.

How people might miss you? – in a way, this can be completely overlooked, as there is that sense you are completely alone in the world (endorsed by the social isolation, and the fact that no one is trying to get in contact with you), no one could possibly understand how you feel, and if you tried to relate how miserable you were, they would push you away.  Seeing anyone else’s point of view is completely restricted and completely biased through the dysfunctional sense of self.  Even when the self tries to maintain some rationality, and imply that others may miss you, the dysfunctional self always prevails through eliciting “final” ideas such as “they don’t know the real you”, and if they did, they would hate you as much as you hate yourself – to which there is no further argument from such a mindset.

Recall of experiences are wholly negative, and the concept of any development to lead to a more positive situation seems utterly preposterous.  Compounded with social isolation, and the constant mental battering of the self, the thanatos prevails to find the final end, finish it all off, kill the problem.

It is not cowardice, but true self indignation and lack of worth through thoroughly distressing episodes and deficits (not necessarily due to their ignorance – but due to cultural influences) towards constructive social values that drive people towards such actions.

It is vital that we work together and understand such people, and not stigmatise them for feeling this way – to encourage people to seek help – and seek to empathise to an extent, and vitally focus on encouraging rational and practicality into the individual in terms of managing the situation.  (Note, this can be abused by inherently needy individuals, for example those who have been brought up with simply attention seeking personality traits – I shall comment on this in my next post)

I feel it is more perceptive to see suicide as a person evaluating their options in terms of assessing options to manage their generalised inexplicit instinctive, yet intensely debilitating problem – deciding whether to either work through it with some plan of action, or “removing” the problem through removal of the person itself.

The main thing to realise here is, when a person realistically ideates suicide, are they actually trying themselves or kill the problem?  Of course, the two may be caught up in an interminable tangle to create a seemingly fundamental entity, and a person in such a situation may realistically argue that they want to kill themselves.  But, dissociating the problem and the self, and encouraging a viewpoint that the problem and the self are separate elements and examining the problem in a generalised sense and reaching self preserving
solutions – I feel is an important way to look at managing suicidal ideation.

 

So where now?

As stated from the outset, this entry was served to provide insight into a condition where ironically insight is lost, and possibly provide insight to the anguish suffered by others during such intensely challenging circumstances.

There is hope out there, and although getting through it and management is one of the most enduring processes ever, once everything was once felt to have been lost, I am glad that I have been able to understand myself more and been able to receive help to revive my sense of being.

I have further thoughts on the effects of mental health issues on mental frameworks (through the postulation of depression as a contagion) and also management and treatment, but at the moment, I am still learning.  In relation to my particular issues, self empowerment and modification of past interpretations has had a significant impact on my life, but hopefully one day this is something I shall be able to learn more about.

For now, I have been able to re-discover my existentialist outlook, which I had lost for a while – which has always been to understand people, emotionally and scientifically, and despite periodical relapses, this is where I shall continue.

If you do want more information, in terms of sources of education, seeking help for yourself or someone you might know, these are good places to start:

http://www.mind.org.uk/help/information_and_advice

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo.aspx

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/home/

Enjoy the new year and hopefully shall see you around…

Abhishek

 

 

Aliud agere quam nihil

No Objective

 

(2007)

“When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also add that some things are nearly more certain than others”

Bertrand Russell

 

Having seen the most random of monuments across the river during one of my many solitary cycling pursuits across London this summer, I decided to cross the Thames and enter Battersea Park and rest myself on this slight mound adjacent to this seemingly arbitrarily placed Buddhist monument…

As I surveyed across the calmly sinuous river towards the Chelsea Embankment, what struck me first in this exceptionally rare moment of liberated thought, was the immense beauty of simple reality and existence…

There in front of me, at the two poles of my peripheral vision, were the Albert and Chelsea Bridges respectively; for me they represented examples of outstanding human achievement in the fields of engineering and physical science and also exceptional endeavour to proficiently establish a structure of such magnitude…

Even more impressive, just to the left of centre of my viewpoint, descended the amber sun, with its warm red crimson border radiating into the horizon outlining much of the surrounding fantastically azure sky…

A definition of picturesque? I do think so…

(I immediately reached for my mobile to take a quick snap of it …)

But, the mind wonders, and my focus immediately turned to this seemingly peculiarily placed Buddhist shrine, on my immediate left, which I now know to be called the “Peace Pagoda”, depicting four appearances of the Buddha…

This random setting intrigued and awed me and made me realise the capacity of human faith as immensely strong enough to warrant prominent status in areas of previous absolute nonentity…

However, this concept of “blind faith”, it really taunted me.

To accept without valid evidence…

To accept without reason…

To simply just “accept” (yes, I do realise the apparent irony of this statement, with reference to my frequently used, “allow it”)

…is something I just find profoundly vulgar.

For me, it is solely through discovery of the truth; by reaching a convincing level of certainty that individuals and society can fuel advancement.

If the engineers building those aforementioned bridges, simply took blind faith in their objective that they would construct a bridge, without being able to accept the truth elucidated through established scientific notions (which many religious enthusiasts do – will discuss in a sec…), then I am pretty sure they would have ended up no short of a “mess” in the Thames…

This anger (intellectually fuelled… ) was compounded with another experience of religion, my own religion which I had been subjected to (editing this again, “subjected” seems like a tormenting word – it isn’t used in that sense here though) for the 19 years of my life: Hinduism.

Just several hours previously, my bike had ended up in Trafalgar Square to witness the immensely colourful and vibrant “Festival of Chariots” to commemorate the Lord Krishna…

Observing all the followers (I am pretty unsure whether myself should be included there… ) and the physical manifestations of the deities, all the similar questions of blind faith, which I now recalled again, cornered me there…

However, I was impressed (temporarily…) to see a stall headed, “Hinduism and Science”.

“Ah, some good shizzle!”, so I thought; maybe my previous ideas relating to the distinctiveness of religion and science can be truly embraced (an example of my ideas are seen in the first blog I did on this space); a concept I later found out was actually in existence (not sure whether it was before or after I advocated it, but for me it just derived from my random thoughts…) and termed Nonoverlapping Magisterial (NOMA).

In NOMA, basically the magisterium/ideas of science embraces the pragmatic realm (in terms of facts and theory) and the magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value – and the point here is that the two magisteria do not overlap…

Therefore, being a follower of reason and logic (and simultaneously being a fervent Darwinist!!) imagine the shock and disappointment, when I realised that every single poster advocated in some way or another, the concept of Intelligent Design completely usurping the notion of evolution!

“Mindless” (or are they? ) discussions of inane hypotheses outlining “irreducible complexity”, and the “farfetched” theories of evolution unable to explain the current perfection of nature, completely threw me off my previous acceptance of the NOMA hypothesis; and I left there (heading to the gym, to release my pent up aggro of course ) with an indignation and a more inquiring attitude to my religious practice…

But wait a second…

Continuously looking back at the bridge and the Pagoda, did I have any justifiable reason to reject this concept of “blind faith”, simply because I wasn’t certain in any way of its truth?

In everyday life, human interactions are usually carried out to a high degree of certainty; subconsciously we can modulate cost-benefit calculations, and usually derive at an action which has a high probability of achieving the desired objective…

Although, we don’t really realise it, we are using variants of an established “scientific method” to come to a conclusion about such realistic matters…

But, “allow” chance and probability!

For me, the notion of absolute certainty inherently intrigued me…

Is there a possibility of an all pervading absolute truth in this reality – can I actually be completely, 100% sure of something?

Am I being disgustingly hypocritical (I hate indulging in hypocrisy!), discussing my perceived “flaws” in religion when I, myself am grossly involved in this notion of “blind faith”, towards science?

Let’s break down what in science is all about and synthesise a conclusion from there…

Building on first principles, science finds its strength in its perceived objectivity – theories in the field of science are based through the formulation of a particular hypothesis (A provisional contributory justification to a set of observations), and then testing them in a controlled environment to see if it is correct.

Controlling the experiment gives that “objectivity”, by ensuring that any variability of the results is caused by the factor, which is under investigation and not some tangential source.  Hence, all theories are dependent on observable/measurable phenomena and not vice versa – an inductive method of logical positivism

For a quite a lot of time in my life, I have always painstakingly strived towards finding total objectivity (not at the cost of my subjectivity though!)

I realised this concept of complete objectivity (and if you think about it, objectivity is an absolute quantity, it exists or not – the word complete is unnecessary, but included to emphasise my point…) is at the end of the day an illusion…

Let us take two of the strongest accepted schools advocating objectivity…

Science and mathematics…

I shall try and keep this brief, because in the process of typing this, I realise I detract from the original point of the concept of “blind faith”, but stick with me J!

Here’s a VERY crude syllogism to illustrate my point (the rest of the argument is in my head, but too long to describe fully in detail here – I feel it is better if it can be inferred from the following example)

Premise 1: The human mind is inherently subjective (it relies on sense data – discussed shortly)

Premise 2: The human mind forms the basis for conducting experiments, through designing of apparatus and methods to carry them out.

Conclusion: The results of the experiments will not be objective (remember, it is an absolute quantity), although admittedly its observations correct to a large extent…

(The Wheeler experiment demonstrates that multiple interpretations can be reached on the nature of light, dependent on the method/placing of observational techniques)

A similar (but not same) argument for mathematics – the notion that mathematics is more of an invention to be able to cope with what is manifestly present than the fact it is a discovery representative of the universal laws of nature (because there’s no CERTAINTY of the stability of these laws!!!)

So, that’s my kind of reasoning to “accepting” (I don’t like to “accept” in these situations – reason discussed at the end…) that most likely, I shall be unable to aspire to a completely objective state of mind…

==

Therefore, if I can’t reach objectivity, does this automatically mean that this notion of “certainty” is also an illusion, as through a reductionist method of logic, it seems to be a more fundamental concept related to objectivity?

(I have found that answering questions only seems to raise an exponentially growing set of more esoteric ones; I apologise at being pretty lame at answering questions, I seem to be only “good” at asking them – I have highlighted my questions in red, just to see for myself  how many I can actually resolve… My guess – None… )

Personally, I find uncertainty more of a discrete quantity (either present or not) rather than a continuous one in direct inverse proportion to certainty – i.e: If something is not certain, then it is uncertain…

Ironically enough, despite the outlined reservations above, I shall use some standard mathematical notation (this S1 shizzle will have to do; now regretting not doing further maths, it may have expanded my mind a bit more…) to express this (in relation to the argument that will follow):

With relation to the probability of a particular event occurring:

If:

P(certainty) < 1      ═> (Implies that) The actual fact that the event will occur (for me) is defined as uncertain

Therefore, using my definition, in the above case, the following is true

P(uncertainty) = 1

Therefore, without being able to “be certain”, we are led to believe we are uncertain about everything…

But then, using my above definition, I have just illustrated through the second point, that in standard language, “we are certain about being uncertain”…

Oh dear, paradox alert – If I am certain about being uncertain, that means “I ain’t uncertain”…

I’ve come to many paradoxes in my head, which I usually resolve at discovering my inane mistakes in logic, but here, I fail to see clearly what I have done wrong here…

(I was trying to disprove my paradox, by the concept of simultaneous equations, but then realised that they represent different concepts, the former relating to the certainty of the event, the latter to certainty in “objective” terms… Any other ways? - am I just being really dumb as usual, and not able to see my solution?…)

Trying to solve this, I decided to “link” it with some random concept (which if you have ever seen me about, I seem to tend to do all the time with anything…) reverted to one of my long held doctrines, which although I try not to stick to, nevertheless represents me pretty well,

“Being consistent at being inconsistent”

Superficially, it seems to be the same circular(-ish) argument, we have just witnessed, but then, if we were to take a standard sine curve, ranging from 1 to -1 on the y axis; then surely it seems justified to apply my doctrine to it? (possibly attributed to the two dimensional nature of the sine curve?  But then, why should that work?)

I can’t progress with the idea/definition of certainty, unless the above is resolved, for if it is true, what are the criteria I then based my certainty on (shockingly rather intuitively)?

These two statements have taken up a large amount of my time, trying to compare and contrast them, but I fail to clearly establish them; I shall leave this argument unfinished here, hoping to have resolved it during the course over summer, or later, and not to have forgotten it in the realms of my mind… (Said with a poignant air of disappointment …)

In terms of seeking that absolute certain knowledge, my conjecture is that society progresses through a sigmoidal pattern (where y represents knowledge and x represents time), ever getting closer to the asymptote of absolute certainty… (But this is simply my intuitive opinion; most likely to be wrong though…)

===

Anyway, I have digressed for far too long, returning back to the original argument, but then, surely there is a “blind faith” in adhering to this scientific method through the beliefs that:

  • The external world exists continuously and independently of our individual perceptions of it and
  • Past experience is a reliable guide to future experience?

Therefore, this means, I do not have a rational reason (and hence, cannot be certain) that the sun steadily declining before my very eyes will rise again tomorrow, simply because it has risen every day so far…

Therefore, I do not have a rational reason either, that the sun I see in the distance, or the river flowing ahead of me, or even the grass I am sitting on certainly exists, for these are simply sense data; a mental representation of these externally existing objects.  These, images, tactile sensations, sounds are all sense data corresponding to a particular sense organ of mine.

Bertrand Russell, an advocate of this notion of sense data came up with the following thought experiment, which I came across, and thought was amazingly apt to put here:

“The man who has fed the chicken everyday throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken”

For all I know, I maybe sleeping at this present moment, simply “existing” in a virtual reality, where none of this actually exists…

Even the famous, “cogito ergo sum”, the Cartesian notion, that the one FUNDAMENTAL simplest thing we can be truly sure of is our individual existence (through the simple fact that we have the capacity to think!), which made me so positive (and comforted me all those years ago when I first read it) for the first time that I knew something for definite, now after my critical pursuits seems to be indefinite.

If that statement, is to have any meaning, surely there has to be prior acceptance of what to count as thinking, and how the concept of “thought” is to be used? – and thus logically from that, it is not the fundamental point of what we can know…

(Before I used to have periods of being fervently convinced by the notion of metaphysical solipsism, a very dangerous idea to abide by; I believed I had to rid myself of it, and my refuting the above idea, gave me a greater chance to refute this one…)

Shit! Then what is the most fundamental point?

Oh dear!  What a dumbass, I actually knew nothing (for certain)…

The primary liberation at the start, now warped into an enveloping incarceration – I could feel my mind slipping into a vicious state of pyrrhonism, attaining frighteningly nihilistic proportions!

The concept of fundamentality and reductionist philosophy; where does it ever end (lol, on editing this it should be more correctly, “begin”, but as we’re looking from the top down, I guess I am justified :-P)?

If one asks, “why” ad infinitum, surely there is one fundamental concept, which cannot be investigated further?

(Minor digression again – my main objection is the limitations of our most powerful modelling tool, language.

Although language is the most powerful means for conceptualisation of the different ideas of the world (both its physical and mental attributes), it also is the most significant limitation – I won’t discuss this further here, because I have digressed too much in this account anyway, but I am sure it will pop up again some time…)

Although, it goes against my previous ethos of being able to discover notions of absoluteness, I realise that most (if not all) concepts gradually tend towards absolute values (even the simplest of yes or no questions – there are a large number of variants in terms of such thought experiments – but trust, I have gone through quite a lot of them in my head –- and there always is a concept of uncertainty to US, no matter how small!), but in this reality, we shall never reach them; a bit akin to the concept of an asymptote on those exponential graphs we had to dreadfully analyse during the days of A level (Asymptotes again!)

I hate accepting, and in this case even more, accepting that realistically, perfection may be theoretically impossible to achieve in our reality!

Although, I am a born sceptic, the ability to discard all that is not certain is realistically unfeasible, and absolutism (at the moment), exists in an intangible manner, and I guess I realise more to accept the need to simply (even though, it seems to me, just not the perfect way…) attempt to distinguish between claims and probable knowledge and that I should probably accept this as a basis for action and life, instead of trying to fully examine and exhaust philosophical and religious uncertainties, which on investigation can be seen to be entirely ungraspable…

I realise that many times in my life I had been unable to accomplish tasks, to fulfil objectives, to simply follow my intuition (which I know others find so stupidly simple, and yet for me it is a living nightmare) simply because I wasn’t completely sure of the consequences.  Although, I had a high degree of conviction, the lack of certainty would always prevail and represented to me a window (regardless of how small) towards failure.

I believe that in some cases, this relates to my perceived sarcasm.  On too many occasions (the other day, my brother was completely convinced I was being sardonic), I have been told that I was being “sarcastic”, or “not telling the truth”, when in fact it was literally, completely the opposite – most probably, I feel now, to the lack of sense of conviction

(I always question myself when I tell a lie, which is probably, why I am so immensely poor at fibbing; just ask my parents :-P) – this relates to being unfortunately misunderstood quite a lot of the time, which of course, I realise must have a negative impact towards people’s perceptions towards me – despite the fact that I have the best intentions at heart …

Oh well, shit happens…  I wish it wasn’t so innate and often!

Despite, the futility of “crying over spilt milk”, I always look back at my omissions to act in so many circumstances, in most of them,

just holding back something I felt strongly about…

just not saying it…

just keeping my mouth shut…

…simply because I was afraid of the worst case scenario occurring – relating to the failure concept above – some of them with simple consequences – but it’s the ones that have more complex corollaries, particularly those involving other people, and emotions, that I retrospectively look back the most as regrets…

I am sure a lot of people can relate to this notion of “missed opportunities”, but for me, there are so many, it is immensely hard to simply learn from them and improve for the future, for the power of mental simulation to the best possible scenario only serves to add to this “standard” dimension and worsen this extent of regret…

Many of the events I have simulated in my head, now seem to work out so well, despite my previous uncertainty, and I now realise that to consider objectively all mitigating factors, is simply unfeasible in the workings of current society…

I just hope this realisation manifests into a change in my character, as at the moment, missed chances are too many to handle, and ironically, leads to the failure that I was so afraid of in the first place…

Oh well, I realise no one can ever help me out, and it has to come from the inside…

I have hope…  But then… Does anything ever go to plan?

I was once recently introduced in my room, during halls at uni, to the concept of the Kübler-Ross model, although, of course, I realise that my situation (although embroiled in quite a lot of grief, through continuous stagnations and inabilities to advance my thoughts!) is not directly associated with its actual use, I am pretty sure that I have been cycling round (oh, LOL, editing this, I realised the hilarity of the unintended pun!) and forth through those stages, however, in my case (not in the circumstances in which it is used), acceptance without resolution for me, represents a failure to persevere with challenges; although I do accept this current situation for now, who knows, maybe like my ideas for NOMA, I shall discard old ones not up to the standards of logic and reason and fall upon new ones to conduct my life in the utilitarian manner I aspire to…

  • Nonetheless, if we cannot infer certainty in the world, if I was able to take a completely external view of our world, would such certainty exist?
  • Would the ability to take an external view be directly linked to this notion of “god”?
  • Are cause and effect intrinsically related?

More questions…

More dreadful lack of answers on my part (lol)…

My thoughts for these are too primitive at the moment, but I do desire to resolve them some time ahead of me…

Finally, I had come to the end of “today”…

I pushed myself up using the thrust of my two hands on the warm grass, and as I carefully walked down from the mound, I felt within me, that I knew one thing for certain in this world…

This was one intuitive leap I would never question within me, no matter how much I stand for logic and reason, although I haven’t expressed it here (yet…) I realise its truth was always true to me, but whether it would solely remain with me forever or display itself in reality, only time will tell…

I took one final look behind me…

This time, of admiration, at the Pagoda, and mounted my bike, cycling off towards the other side of the Thames…

And I randomly navigated my way (as through life…) curious to whether the sun will rise again tomorrow…

Be certain to enjoy summer!

Maybe catch ya around some time…(?)

Abbey B!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2007)

 

"To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday."

John Burroughs

 

Ever since Christmas, I attempted to compose a brilliantly fluent opening paragraph overtly indicative of the immense multitude of the fresh ideas and events associated with university life, in particular those which had penetrated my easily malleable mind and have now tended towards a state of stability within in my head…

Obviously, that was a shite idea…

 It has been 6 months (in editing this piece, it has slowly increased from 2 months, to 4, and now to 6! – an immense mix of procrastination and confusion (brought on by ideas to be discussed shortly) at its finest) into university since I had the time to myself to be able to compose another part of this “batty” blog. 

 To effectively evoke the immense contrast between the thoughts I had previously (essentially before the start of university) relative to the ideas I have now seems to be profoundly impossible, which is why I have restricted it to several, which I feel I understand now… 

As the foremost paragraphs indeed have turned out to be, I should warn you that this narrative probably is more of a personal rant than one of my “proper” observations (as felt by me :-P – no impartiality there); so if you hate rants, you should stop reading now…

 Alt+F4 is the quickest way outta here – Later on!

 ……………………Hmm……………………

 For the rant aficionados, where should I begin…?

Let us commence with where I had finished, at the start of my last blog (multiple antonyms there added on purpose – not sure if that made any sense),

“Binging, partying, and incessant drug misuse”

 At the time of writing, I wrote this in juvenile pretence…

As hilarious as I am sure you found it reading it the first time (and now laughing away at the second), honestly at the time there could be no way I imagined I could ever be confronted in a situation of such depravity…

I well and truly passed and exceeded all of my moral boundaries during my time here at university; actually (from what I can vaguely recall under the influence), all in the course of a single evening in a Dutch locality…  

In addition to this, from what I can remember (6 months on…), here is a list of what happened during the infamous “Fresher’s fortnight”:

Saturday           -           Mingle

Sunday             -           Quiz

Monday           -           Freshers Roadshow

Tuesday           -           Mums and Dads

Weds               -           Doctors n Nurses Pub Crawl

Thursday          -           Just chillin’ out

Friday              -           Puja (returning to the civilised Abhishek…)

Saturday           -           Went to a wedding

Sunday             -           Pizza Hut Buffet?

Monday           -           Bands Night

Tuesday           -           Comedy and a night at the club Firehouse

Wednesday      -           …………. (Blank, sorry can’t remember this one…)

Thursday         -           Fresher’s Ball

Coming from a background where the essentials of my life were strictly controlled (not in any way derogatory whatsoever, as I have now discovered – more of a boon in some sense to be honest!) and social interaction was usually minimal, a sudden bequest of “liberty” and “responsibility” (I feel) is too immense to be rewarded with at once – this is exactly what happened when I started my first day here at Imperial, settling down in my room, in this hall. 

Saturday was a complete “mission”; initial reticence had always haunted my ability to break away from the confines of familiarity, and having left the lift on the Lower Gallery, I realised I had to pluck up at least some courage to talk to people. 

Undeniably that was to continue throughout the week – Wednesday in particular was a certain eye opener – having been in a pub once in my life before (on a certain “jokes” muck up day back in school…), the student atmosphere associated with alcohol and all the implications of it, hit me hard. 

(And it damn well hurt the next day in the form of a hangover… - actually I lie, was pretty much sober the whole night, completely aghast at what was happening around me)

However, as I discovered from the fortnight and still nowadays, returning to the endowment of “liberty” and “responsibility” (essentially the question of independence), in many social settings (most notoriously under the club strobe lights), there is an implicit prerequisite to tend towards a particular extreme – to exploit the former and diminish the importance of the latter.

In essence, this approach serves as a fuel to the distinctiveness of future scenarios (all the shenanigans which accompany binge drinking, pulling randomers, etc) which essentially is what most people are excited by and live each day by, but to me, although primarily it was extremely shocking (given that I was completely oblivious to any of this) ironically now seems too monotonous, too “standard”.

Essentially, one of my reasons for choosing Imperial over my other choice, was the enhanced ability to sample and integrate myself into a more diverse social framework, in terms of meeting more people and “going out” (for once), which I felt would be hindered if I went off to my other choice – ultimately this would give me a better ability to distance myself from my (shitty O.T.T) mechanistic thought processes and my constant requirement to establish structured formulae to paradigms of society, which I felt was integral if I were to develop socially as a well rounded person…  

Has that happened? 

To be honest, I see myself radically transformed relative to last year, one of my old mates here at Imperial commented on me as “more relaxed and talkative”, however whether it is in a positive sense, doesn’t rely on my opinion, but relies on yours… 

So I’ll leave you to answer my question…

As with all stages of most peoples’ lives, the perpetual requirement for detraction from investigation of the fundamentals is easily fulfilled by the curiosity of the human psyche in the application of memes (here’s your first Dawkins reference, lol…), which conform more to the notion of the distinctiveness of future scenarios (as discussed previously) and are easily open to debate.

At the moment, as I have found from halls and in the medic “grapevine”, these memes usually deliberate the ever-so rapid dynamics of interpersonal relationships, which I have found to be immensely fascinating.

(However it awes me so much, mulling over them is definitely of the main reasons contributing the immense procrastination and confusion that really contributes to the disorder in my life, and always ends up messing my damn plans!!! (Been counting, and haven’t had one plan go to plan so far…))

However, what fascinates me is not the need for “gossip” (well, not always, ;-)), however it is the reality of deviance from standard morality, which although I realised is rampant throughout any construct of society –nonetheless is something I found immensely shocking, despite my theories about it, I hadn’t experienced it, and certainly not first hand, which now I can say I have had the joy of coming across…

At the end of the day, going back to that Darwinian/stability philosophy I strongly affirm to, I guess these aspects of psychological behaviour such as envy, guilt, gratitude, sympathy amongst other things have been shaped by natural selection (and approached evolutionary stability) for the improved ability to cheat, to detect cheats, to avoid being thought a cheat (The word cheat is used in reference to the selfish nature of organisms (yeh, and I guess humans) to be able to propagate, which is the Darwinian explanation to the meaning of life – too equivocal in my opinion, but will do for now – read the Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins – legend – actually, dickhead, I blame him for thinking about all this stuff growing up back in school). 

And despite the statistical objective calculations of theory of real life models such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_Dilemma), and the notion of the long term success of reciprocal altruism and the tit-for-tat approach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nice_Guys_Finish_First), amalgamating all that I have heard, unfortunately this “Nice guys finish last” philosophy seems to be universally correct at the moment… (Lol, I think I sound bitter here…Maybe I am…:-P)

The requirement to deduce pure altruism from a form of superficial devious altruistic behaviour, is something that I instinctively find difficult to do, considering I always try to apply a logical reason as to their behaviour, rather than compare and contrast their moral intentions with how I would conduct behaviour in a similar situation – something essentially which needs to be changed, cause I will always lose out to them (and possibly, always remain bitter ;-))

Nonetheless, reciprocal altruism from what I have experienced thankfully is present, and hopefully it will succeed more in the long term and the trust I place in these close people will be reciprocated and continue for a long term, if not forever (it sounds cheesily idealistic, but I have hope, we shall see)

Anyway, as much of a rant as this appalling piece has been, I think I should call it a day.

I had other ideas circulating about, I decided they were possibly too broad for comprehensive tenacity – which essentially is the reason for most of the editing, so I just deleted them for good… 

If I can reach a proper conclusion about it some time, I’ll put it up, but for now, it lies amongst the unsorted junk in my head…

With respect to the opening paragraph, for me, every single day, nowadays more so than before, deserves immense reflection simply to ascertain every single mitigating factor at the time (for I lack spontaneous understanding, and am well retarded in that sense…amongst other senses as well), and it is always a joy to derive much needed inspiration around me just how to get by everyday…

Anyway, bare tired now!

Enjoy easter n catch ya soon (if u r nice that is!)

Abbey B!!!!  

 

And he’s off!

(2006)

 

This will probably be the final truly pensive and contemplative blog I have to offer, before my mind becomes mercifully corrupted and fouled by the dreadful rigmarole of student life at university.

 

So, before the late night binging, partying, and incessant drug misuse begins (again), to give justice to this meditative account, let us investigate what thoughtful jobs I am currently undertaking and what my corresponding logical thoughts are at this particular time (which we can thus compare after I have started uni)?

 

Well, here’s the story…

 

v     It has just turned 12:23 am.

v     I am still awake. 

v     I am moving into halls tomorrow.

v     I haven’t even started packing my things yet.

v     Where the fuck is my halls contract, which I was supposed to have copy off and know how I much I was supposed to frigging pay?

v     Shit, forgot to pack my socks (still got jetlag from 4 weeks ago; must remember this is not India, you can’t wing it with sandals all the time).

v     Do I have enough passport photos? (Actual photo: )

v     Packing all my stuff into that pink suitcase, which my mum says, “is big and lovely”, will give the rest of the hall the wrong idea.

v     Oh crap, better not forget that dodgy pink plastic plate (yep, pink again), otherwise I’d have to eat out of my mug.

v     It has just turned 12:32 am, and I am still awake.

v     Where am I going tomorrow again?

v     Damn it, if only I had some ganga spare to keep me going; I’ll have to jack some from my brother’s stash.

 

Oh well, it’s going to be a long night…

 

Anyway, this blog’s gonna be the last one for a long time, and I dedicate it to all those going in2 uni this year, enjoy yourselves!

 

For all those already through uni, who have “been there n done that”, and drowning in their boring jobs, “HAhaHA”!

 

And for all those awaiting uni, you are probably too young to be reading this trash of a blog anyway.

 

Anyway, it’s just turned 12:55 am, enough loafing about, I’m off for some late nite packing; zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

Later on…

 

 

Abbey "High all the time"   B…..

 

 

 

 

 

Summer fate

(2006) 

 

"Either our actions our determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them."

David Hume

 Walking back home from school for the very last time today, I felt very awkwardly pensive

 To be honest I had been thinking about it for quite a while now, but that long walk past the Odeon along Holloway Road seemed to elucidate my deliberations further (maybe it was all those ever pleasing exhaust fumes from the 271’s).

 Human nature seems so oxymoronically non-natural, so non-random, and so non-haphazard; to me, it just seems so farfetched. 

 Randomness; what a random concept…

 How can anything be truly random, simply dependent on the laws of chance, without any possibility of certain inference – there is a direct link between cause and effect, and a consequence at any one time is caused due to consequential effects from a prior time.

 As a frequenter on the gambling circuits (yeh, Mecca Bingo down Angel innit), I tend to roll quite a lot of dice.  Evidently, for a fair die, the probability of obtaining any one particular result is 1 in 6, and seems like a fairly random process.

 However, the only reason why throwing a die is considered as random, is simply because we can’t be bothered modelling all the mitigating factors, affecting the flight and roll of the die.  If this was done thoroughly and accurately, we would be able to realistically predict how the die would land.  We’re just simply too lazy, and hence, we assign this word, random, to elucidate the concept of estimating value a die will show, ie: a 100% prediction is not possible.

 Evidently, human nature cannot be “random”, otherwise anarchy would break out – we’d drive randomly on both sides of the road, aimlessly shoot the football at our own goal, or even stick our own heads down a toilet.

 However, I do believe that human nature, as well as anything else in the perceivable universe in which we live in, is governed by a form of determinism, as a culmination of the events that preceded it. 

 Why?

 I strongly believe in the notion of a stability, which everything in the world would eventually tend towards.  From the universe, to our DNA, to even current principles of society, they all rely on tending towards the definite limit of stability.

 Taking the simple scenario of throwing the ball up in the air, the ball will accelerate back down to earth again, to maintain a greater stability due to gravitational attraction with the earth – we could then ask the question about the existence of gravity, which would also relate to the notion of stability (eg: graviton production), and thus ad infinitum.

 Scientifically speaking, this notion does correspond with the second law of thermodynamics – "The entropy of an isolated system not at equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.".

 So, how does this relate to my debate regarding human nature?

 Well, the chemical conditions of the primitive earth were sufficient for the creation of the essential biomolecules, such as the amino acids and DNA bases (Miller-Urey experiment – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_experiment).  The molecules were created as a stable consequence of the ordinary processes of physics and chemistry prevailing at that time.

 Eventually, a stable replicator was formed by accident (such as autocatalytic RNA), which makes identical copies of itself.  Over some time (you know, the odd billion years), this replicator was able to position itself within an aqueous matrix, surrounded by a plasma membrane, and induce replication incorporating these features, which thus enhanced its fecundity to today – creating the all important cell – the defining object of life.

 The way we define life is that it consists of at least a cell, the most basic unit of life, able to harvest energy from the environment to maintain homeostatic function; with an ability to proliferate.

 The current ethos is what makes life so exclusive relative to inanimate objects, say, the bricks, which your house are made of (or, the box which I live in), is that living organisms can actively respond to changes in the external environment (stimuli).

 We, as humans require a brain to modulate the input received from both the external and internal environment, and provide the link between the receptors and the effectors.

 All simple enough, we ain’t as inanimate as that lousy brick (or box), because we got a brain that we use to make decisions based on what we think is right.

 We can take control of our own lives, and make our own decisions, and do what we want, right?

 Let’s fully explore this notion of the uniqueness within life, and let’s do this by investigating the processes that occur on response to an external impulse, say, some guy chucking a chicken at you (as you do…).

 As soon as the guy releases the chicken straight at you, the eye detects the moving stimulus, and the transducer (via retina) converts this to an electrical impulse, to be transmitted along the optic nerve towards the desired area of the brain, which is responsible for transmitting nervous impulses to the effectors (arm muscles), thus enabling you to catch your much loved chicken.

 Taking a mechanistic view of these nervous processes, which govern our responses to stimuli, we can see that in fact our actions are simply as a result of chemical imbalances in certain parts of the body, that cause us to react in the way we do. 

 To use an analogy with computer programming, the brain is an adept processor already consisting of an operating system (like Windows XP, but less of those “end now” popups), with a series of predefined general (in our case, behavioural) traits that provide us with a selective advantage in unfamiliar scenarios. 

 The significant difference with a computer program is that, the brain is much more dynamic and can be modified by various experiences within the environment.

 But, intrinsically it is the ability of the brain to circulate nervous impulses and neurotransmitter chemicals in the correct places that enable the individual to perform a desired action, brought about by natural selection via evolution.

 Therefore, by taking a much more mechanistic view of the processes that govern the human body, and essentially all other organisms, to maintain homeostasis, it seems unjustifiable to consider the human mind, as being a unique higher autonomous form, relative to our brick.

 Realistically speaking, it is profoundly callous to say that people got what was going to happen anyway, such as the example of a serious injury ruling someone out of an important tournament (did anyone say Owen?); however ultimately predestination is inequitable and we just gotta live with it.

 Hence, in conclusion, it seems apparent that our actions are not itself as a result of independent thought or critique, which is what we perceive to make life so distinct, but instead a consequence of scenarios, which our brain has been pre programmed and thereafter adapted to deal with (through modification of synaptic pathways brought upon by certain events). 

 Thus the evolution of society and life has already been determined as a corollary of the infinitesimal mitigating factors, for which we are too indolent (and is actually infinitesimally fiendish) to effectively model and predict the future; but investigating how these factors were primarily set, is a debate for another day…

 However, as the opening quotation asks, are we truly responsible for our actions?

 Even though our actions may be determined, it is essential that we consider them as our own, or the prerequisite novelty of life would disappear and falter civilisation as we know it…

 

Anyway, I’m off to enjoy a cricket match,

Later on

Abs.

End of Chapter II

(2006)

 

End of Chapter II

 

The end of la journée scolaire had finally arrived, and on exiting the school gates, today I stood outside for one final nostalgic glance.

 

Crikey, had it honestly been 10 years since I first came here?

 

I still vividly remember being aged 7, and turning up in the school playground on the first day; it was all very terrifying trying to fit in, trying not to get lost, trying not to repeatedly mistake “Tom” for “Roderick” (I still do that nowadays).

 

10 years on, and now I feel like never leaving; ai, all that terrifying stuff’s going to happen again next year, at uni!

 

There are still big things I wanted to achieve here, people I wanted to greet with open arms, but coyness always gets the best of me, and I know it’s something I gotta sort out soon in the future.

 

Oh well, here endeth Chapter 2 of my life…

 

…Bring on Chapter 3…

(2006)

 

Science and Religion

 

Just the other day, there was a discussion during one of our infamous religious assemblies at school (aka the Curry Cru’s) debating whether the lustrous, enchanting, celestial notions of religion will ever mediate with the plain, green fields of science. 

 

The debate centred on the conception (a misconception at that) that these two schools of thought propose diametrically opposed arguments intrinsically resistant to change. 

 

This “perception” made me question the fact whether I could realistically practice my religion with a rather subjective attitude to life, whilst simultaneously uphold scientific principles, concerning a more objective attitude to life.

 

Human nature is typical in discovering fundamental principles, which underlie common occurrence, hence the establishment of the word, “why” and its abundant use.

 

Basically finding out why things happen, this notion of cause and effect is an inherent curiosity of our psyche (ie: Just being generally nosy about everything). 

 

Religion in relation to science was essentially created to provide answers to the serious fundamental questions, science was not expected to have the capacity to answer. 

 

But the inability to efficiently pursue these questions science was not expected to answer, in an objective manner, “ad infinitum” leads to a sense of heightened frustration.  (And thus results in the current neglect of philosophical, reflective thinking, and quite possibly is a reason (though not derogatory in any way) in the adherence of religious beliefs)

 

Thereby, as scientific endeavour relies simply on the interpretation of observable phenomena, it will be generally unable to provide answers to the imperceptible; this is where religion steps in. 

 

Every single religion provides answers to these questions, in particular the advent of our existence (usually manifested through the notion of a divine creator) and protocols to apply in terms of daily conduct (like the 10 Commandments).

 

At the end of the day, this debate meant nothing to me.

 

For starters, why is there a conception that these two schools of thought propose diametrically opposed arguments resistant to change, which was the main point of this discussion?

 

It is due to the fact that religion had not anticipated the improving dynamic nature of science, and its improving ability of extrapolating ideas from well established scientific concepts/observations. 

 

Examples of scientific notions that seem to refute well-established religious concepts include the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution (as against the notion of intelligent design), and the idea of a heliocentric universe advocated by Copernicus (as opposed to a geocentric one – i.e: the sun’s at the centre of our galaxy).

 

It is always difficult to discard widely-established principles in light of new evidence contradicting it, but it seems to be unjustifiable to continue adherence to such principles, in a kind of “argumentum ad hominem” manner, once the new evidence has been proved to be correct; such as in the case of evolution and intelligent design.

 

Due to this perpetual lack of acceptance between the two notions, people generally (especially those in the discussion) believe that science and religion will never bridge the gap across the sea of unwavering ambiguity.

 

But personally, I feel that this is rather an immense fallacy, simply because I feel that there is essentially no bridge to gap.

 

As defined earlier, religion is essentially a subjective set of principles, which ultimately will not be accepted by everyone, but provides agreement amongst a significant set of people in terms of principles and concepts to adhere to and defining a way in which to lead their lives.  An all-powerful god or a combination of polytheisms may have created us; I haven’t a clue, and science probably never will unless the god(s) (if existent) makes its presence clear.

 

Conversely, science depends on the analysis of observable phenomena, and through the concept of stability throughout the universe it is an objective school of thought, and is the final say in the matter.

 

Consequently and indeed ultimately, it is evident that one can fully respect these two wonderful ideologies, which at the end of the day provides us (well, to me it does!) with some answers to our inherent curiosity and it indeed bestows a fulfilling sense of purpose to life (again, to me it does!).

 

It’s just a travesty when scientists and religious believers dispute, antithetical to the others endeavour.  Why can’t we all just learn to respect each other and get on with life?

 

Because that wouldn’t be life would it?

 

But that’s a debate for another assembly.

 

Anyway, just thought I’d let you know what I think,

For now,

 

Take Care…

 

Abs.

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