trantor or ?

trantor. isaac asimov’s fictitious planet that is the centre of a very human empire–kinda like in star wars, but much older, like 12,000 years older. it has become not only all bureaucratic but also all synthetic–everyone lives below the surface in an artificial world, like ‘the path’ in toronto. it is home to several billion humans, but how many are following their true calling?

trantor. like the borg home world? like the death star? like earth? is it even real?

here are some people who followed their true calling in their old age, proving it’s never too late (indeed, nor is it ever too early):

  • jackrabbit johannsen skied til he was 106.
  • grandma moses didn’t start painting til she was in her seventies.
  • pete seeger, at 93, is releasing two albums next month.
  • his buddy, woody guthrie, who woulda been a hundred this year, in his final years could no longer handle a guitar but he kept writing lyrics (which were eventually set to music by billy bragg and wilco and released as mermaid avenue).

even terminal, don’t stop following your true calling. or, as maslow, said: ‘what a man [sic] can be, he must be.’

one who followed his true calling til his death was tom thomson. in 1914, world war started. thomson could enlist. at 36 he was too old to be an infantryman, but he could be a war artist, like his friends a.y. jackson and frederic varley; he could risk becoming cannon fodder (though jackson and varley survived the war and went on to become members of the group of seven). instead, thomson worked and painted and died in algonquin park, pursuing his vision while the world went mad. West Wind director Michèle Hozer says,  ‘Tom Thomson like the others [glenn gould etc] is unpretentious, focused, and follows his heart when it was not necessarily the most popular thing to do. And it is by choosing this unpopular and unknown path that he was able to make the greatest contribution.’

maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

his need was both personal and universal. dr m and i talked briefly about maslow’s hierarchy of needs and christian existentialism, in particular tillich and niebhur and faith.

christian existentialism seems like an oxymoron, for we’re on our own (existentialism), yet we have god on our side (christianity). supposedly, we have free will, yet an all-good god/dess who forgives us if we just say yes and accept his/her eternal love, and that requires what kierkegaard called a leap of faith. we touched upon the shortcomings of being in the now and mindfulness–for what is faith without the promise of tomorrow? existentialism posits that an individual’s personal choices are supreme (as opposed to the hegelian dialectic of opposing impersonal forces), yet aren’t we over-ruled by the creator?

at times, it’s all too much, as the beatles sang. even einstein said he could never understand it all. other times, even if it seems too much, i must scratch this itch.

while it deals with personal meaning and even it’s opposite, absurdity (meaninglessness), how does existentialism deal with paradox (more than one meaning, or metaphor, or quantum possibilities, or shades of grey, or what have you)? does paradox require flexibility of thinking? a trip to the brain gym? is existentialism a trip instead towards rigidity? is such a view culture-bound where it seems compassion, empathy, and cooperation are in short supply in the western world? our culture? our species?

she asked if i wondered about these things before my brain injury. i said i had, but now i wanted to better my flexibility of thinking, that i feared becoming too rigid and too black-and-white. that’s one of the joys of listening to others–that other people think differently and have much to share, especially those in other cultures. i can hardly wait to read and share moments that speak: stories and images of connection.

even more different thinking and feeling is presented by david suzuki in ‘mysteries of the animal mind‘ on the nature of things (you can view this episode view in full online), which explores non-human emotions, rationality, and even morality. like our senses and digits, etc, thinking and feeling evolved too, over hundreds of millions of years, vertebrates and invertebrates. one scientist, diana reiss, concludes, ‘so, the big picture is we are not alone.’ another, james hare, says, ‘in the end accepting the possibility of consciousness and coming to an appreciation of other species is critical to our own survival.’

suzuki notes that human thinking currently affects other species. elsewhere he writes, ‘Scientists have been warning about global warming for decades. It’s too late to stop it now, but we can lessen its severity and impacts. The side benefits are numerous: less pollution and environmental destruction, better human health, stronger and more diversified economies, and a likely reduction in global conflicts fuelled by the rapacious drive to exploit finite resources. We can all work to reduce our individual impacts. But we must also convince our political and business leaders that it’s time to put people – especially our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come – ahead of profits.’

but watching waking life raises many fundamental questions, such as what is real? who am i? there are those who think this life is but a computer program, or a dream, or a test, or a joke, or what it is. as is pointed out, some of these questions are thousands of years old. answers too. sometimes, tho, i doubt the usefulness of the answers. or the questing. seems to me the answers are unknowable and the journey ceaseless. maybe i should just shuttup and smile. yeah, i’m good at that. maybe that’s the secret of life.

well, i’ll still protest pipelines, but only if i can laugh and dance. tonight [2012-08-25]  a former edmontonian described edmonton as a factory surrounded by houses. he wasn’t being metaphorical. he also described the current oil boom as ‘rape and pillage’. rape and pillage make it hard to laugh and dance.

still, what would i do if i knew i had terminal cancer? that’s the question posed in the movie one week. the first thing the protagonist does is buy a motorbike and goes on a road trip cuz a coffee cup told him ‘GO WEST YOUNG MAN’…..

wouldn’t you?

i would. a movie that asked big questions AND had us laughing–good music too.

one week might refer to how long he’s on the road, but he might be thinking one week is about all he has left to live. or maybe one instant. at one point he wipes out. another he finds himself singing the song his mother sang to him.

one week. or less. what would you do? would you be funny and poignant?

asimov’s response to the predicted decline of trantor and its bureaucracy and the galactic empire is to establish a foundation of knowledge. but there’s a twist….

here’s the wedding of a woman i’ve never met (i’ve talked with her on the phone). my daughter lives on the family farm, where the wedding was. the pictures are amazing! it was a stormy day, but it never rained.

listening to stuart mclean on the vinyl cafe who is broadcasting from a theatre in quebec/vermont on the international border whose stage is in canada and audience in america. the residents of the town live, like a marriage, a life of mutuality and differences. for example, they share an international (yet municipal–sheesh! the mind boggles) water supply and sewage system. more importantly, there is laughter!

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