Yet another rough draft towards a more professional coverage of the state of water as a resource.
Sources and Further Reading
Yet another rough draft towards a more professional coverage of the state of water as a resource.
Sources and Further Reading
There’s so much ado with water that I’m having a hard time keeping up. One of the things is social impact which I discuss briefly in this vlog.
For more information check out Jacques Leslie’s excellent book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deep-water-jacques-leslie/1100292710
Just a quickie vlog on satisfaction, the creative process, and trying to find a succinct way to frame the importance of a critical topic.
Check out the Fractal Journal: https://fractaljournal.com
For stories, webcomics, essays, and more.
New uploads on TFJ every Tuesday and Thursday guaranteed! Unless you know…ninjas.
Brief talk on methods to stay put when you need to, hidden costs, and the need to revive parlor culture. As we automate and populate we are going to need art and culture more and more and more…
The Poem – Typical (Poem)
Mr. Ramanujan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srinivasa_Ramanujan
Banqiao – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam
Opened a book today
A million men died in its pages
A million widows wept, what can I say
A typical account of typical ages
A great river had promise
To make the land rich
They must never miss
The chance to satisfy that itch
Futility’s felt without building a thing
So goes the ring, so goes the ring
The round circle tight as a noose
Choking the poets
Squeezing the juice
Potential is drained
Yeah you know it’s
The way it’s explained
Very matter of fact
That we must sacrifice
With a haste without tact
For we need things nice
Yet do we really know
What’s nice and what’s ill
What poets, muses, and sages
Are lost in the men that we kill
For the promise of better just slightly
The thing haunts me nightly
So my lamp burns more brightly
Till I see this dross is all gone
Life is a thing both febrile and strong
Both sacred and wrong
So I guard that flame
Doubly sure to maintain the song
For many have died and many are lame
While I have vigor
I’ll recall their name
‘Such, I believe, is the source of the Ionian Enchantment: Preferring a search for objective reality over revelations is another way of satisfying religious hunger. It is an endeavor almost as old as civilization and intertwined with traditional religion, but it follows a very different course – a stoic’s creed, an acquired taste, a guidebook to adventure plotted across rough terrain.’
– E.O. Wilson, Consilience – The Unity of Knowledge – Chapter One: The Ionian Enchantment
Consilience is about consilience, how consilient. That’s the trouble with the word. It’s a bit of a tautology. One of those classifications that point to such a broad phenomenon that it has almost no meaning. It’s like ‘emergent properties.’ Almost everything has or is an emergent property.
I do think these are useful and indispensable concepts. So why do I begin a review by casting aspersions at them?
Well, what’s a review without a bit of taunting and teasing? A touch of play, that’s how you actually keep those austere leather-bound volumes open, rather than having the staid darlings nobly accrue dust on some high shelf.
It is of vast importance to not respect something so much that you never touch it.
For E.O. Wilson the history of humanity, the history of its philosophical, and scientific pursuits has a common thread. Consilience comes from Latin and means something akin to a jumping together. So it is that all knowledge all ken seems to jump together according to a certain logic. It is at such points of convergence that we can become confident in the reality of a given phenomenon and proceed to form a conceptual framework on the basis of this evidence. A conceptual framework which can then be used as a compass to navigate the world of knowledge and make valid predictions. This order this logic is a sort of ‘Ariadne’s thread.’ Allowing us to trace a path through the mysterious labyrinth called cosmos.
Logic itself is a testament to an inherent order that though far more chaotic than the straightforward of ‘fire hot don’t touch,’ is non-the-less intelligible to creatures accustomed to such essential syllogisms.
It is that quest for inherent order for unifying principle that defines the ‘consilience’ concept and serves as the focus of this book.
If one reads the leaflet of the Knopf hardcover edition he discovers a highlighting of this theme:
‘our explosive rise in intellectual mastery’ … ‘has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness’ …. ‘ a vision that found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment’
Greece is the focus of the first chapter, in which E.O. Wilson recounts his youthful fascination with the natural beauty of his Alabama home. A fascination that would develop into a sense of mission, the poetically dubbed ‘Ionian Enchantment.’
‘The enchantment’ is a reference to the philosophical outlook of Thales of Miletus, the idea that the universe is intelligible and can be understood once the proper principles are isolated.
One of the great strengths of this book is that Wilson does not let his aesthetic sensibilities cloud his analysis. He readily assents to the difficulty of bottom up analysis, of the synthesis which is at the heart of consilience. Accurately portraying it as a task far more challenging than the more familiar reductionist strategies that have seen much success in the physical sciences.
In Ariadne’s Thread (another Greek allusion) Wilson points out that it is ‘easy’ to go from conceptual complexity to basic physical units. It is an altogether different thing to go from basic physical properties to conceptual complexity.
The myth of Theseus unravelling the ball of Ariadne’s thread in the minotaur’s maze, serves as an apt analogy for humanity’s attempt to make sense of its surroundings. We always find retracing our steps to be easier than finding valid routes through a labyrinth that ultimately has no center.
All we know is that there is something that allows us to navigate, something dear and precious, the yarn of a beautiful maiden that I’m going to take the liberty of identifying with ‘wisdom’ (sic) for the sake of conceptual convenience. This wisdom, this sense of the maze being navigable, is what will eventually allow us something like mastery of that puzzling terrain. Though as Wilson cautions, mastery of such a thing, may not be possible to fully realize.
I’d argue that such an impossibility is actually bliss. It means that the universe is intelligible to just the right degree. So that we may never know enough and grow weary and bored. That greatest joy of exploration will never be yanked from our species.
In fact the more we discover the more the avenues of mystery expand. The future as Wilson points out in the last chapter of his book belongs to synthesizers. People with a sense for consilience who can incorporate information into valid novel coherencies. The universe is thus a vast garden that intelligent creatures like ourselves can eternally cultivate.
This is what makes this book such a worthy read. The rekindling of the classical fire. That flame which was ‘lost’ in recent decades due to the intense specialization that became somewhat inevitable as knowledge and complexity increased.
It is a timely response to the relativism and ‘post modernism’ (sic) of the present age. Which far from providing the fecundity that they seemingly promise have served up something much more akin to stagnation.
I found this book to be a worthy read as a review of the history of science and philosophy through a biologist’s lens. You will encounter in-depth coverage of such perennial issues as nature vs. nurture, the role of genetics in culture, the physical functioning of the brain as it relates to the nature of consciousness, and much more.
The early chapters accounting of the development of the sciences and their underlying methodology has a historian’s flair, that is a timely remedy for the atomization of the knowledge of a ‘common core’ mind.
I’d urge anyone wishing to enrich both their passion and their knowledge to pick up this excellent book.
What’s the point then?
A computer, a technology, should never be a tether. It should be a tool to enhance knowledge, productivity, and pleasure.
To use a tool properly, one must learn to get by, to get about one’s business without it.
That’s why, post-shower, I am making this hand-written entry with my PC turned off.
There is only the pen, the paper, the ticking of the clock, and the sound of a radio coming from the other room.
Here I am, at my task, the task of writing, with more pleasure, ease, and sentience.
There is no song, no YouTube video, no endless podcast, there are no headphones at all. I do not drown passively among other people’s voices. I select what’s relevant from memory.
I do not fear that my thoughts will be lost, that they will suffer in quality because they are a scrawl in afternoon light rather than coordinates on a glowing screen.
I feel no unease at the knowledge that digitally augmented ken, all the world’s libraries, and forums, are one further step away.
I am in fact as free and secure as the crow that just flew overhead.
Because I have made it possible, more likely to see him.
I have but to swivel in my squeaky office chair to boot the machine. Should I fancy to share my insights electronically.
Perhaps soon I will. But not before I visit a long neglected couch to read a hand-held book.
Such is the exercise I choose to assure a firmer grip upon my faculties.
Through this I find my freedom, my mobility expanded, and my electric bill a touch more modest.
I’m coming at this from a ‘psychological’ angle. This differs from most people’s usual take on our tendency to not look beyond grocery store shelves because I’m not promoting or contesting ‘organic’ claims. This is just a bit of informal speculation on unseen effects of our ‘abstracted lifestyle.’
– Abstracted lifestyle as I use it here is just a reference to the depth and intricacy of our division of labor. We do not take actions or very often come in contact with those that take actions to ensure health and survival on a ‘primordial level’ (food, water, shelter, heat) and thus are ‘abstracted.’ i.e. Accounting and Computer Programming are abstract professions.
I do not support or deny any of the claims in the following links. They’re presented to help you form your own opinions.
‘Neutral’ (*sic) Info – https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/05/25/know-where-your-food-comes-usda-foods
‘Critical of Organic’ – http://reason.com/archives/2002/09/25/i-dont-care-where-my-food-come#comment
*sic is here used in a somewhat unconventional way as a reminder that there is no neutral party of information since it’s all framed by human beings. USDA is by no means impartial or neutral whatever its attempts may be. Not due to any shortcoming on the USDA’s part necessarily but simply the nature of organizations and people. That being said I believe the information contained in the link is about as ‘impartial’ and rigorous as it probably gets.
Here’s more food related reading:
Has Thales been vindicated?
Perhaps this thought is owed merely to my own meager apprehension of physics but perhaps not. In recent times scientists have attempted to resolve two major models of the universe by proposing that it may, in fact, be fluid.
The cosmos has a flow. Groovy. This appeals to the hippie in me. Alan Watts being a patron saint of the moneyed unwashed once said that there are two sorts of folks. Those who believe that the universe is prickles and those who believe that it is goo. This, of course, refers to the famous dichotomy between artists and scientists (and everything else).
E.O. Wilson also touched on this in Consilience, painting the picture of the striving between those who see order and wish to make chaos, and those who see chaos and wish to make order.
Watts in his languid laughing way pointed to the obvious need for both sorts of people and for each person to strive to contain (retain) an admixture of both.
“The universe is gooey prickles and prickly goo!”
The interplay of order and chaos is of course fluid in nature. It is the eternal binary motion, the tick, and tock, that the east has colloquialized as yin and yang.
So yes, in the same way, that water reflects the faces that gaze upon it, it may reflect the core nature of the universe itself.
These are the introductory paragraphs to Chapter one of my book: Forever Fluid – The Strange Case of Renewable Limits
This first chapter should be completed in the next two weeks now that I’ve found some time.
The book itself will likely be published via Amazon or a similar service by the end of this year (or 2019 depending on circumstances). It will likely be an ebook but that’s subject to change.
Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your time and hope that I’m able to bring some value to your lives.
Alex V. Weir