Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Looking Glass Self: Self-Objectivation in Vajra Dakini

This post concerns Vajra Dakini, an esoteric teaching concerned with self-consciousness held within the human body. I was introduced to the concept for the first time without any intention of formulating a post; but I become motivated to engage in the exploration of it. 

By remaining within the natural attitude, the visitor to the garden of a pure land is unaware of shifts in noetic acts through which noematic correlates of the garden and associated images undergo presentational modifications within the context of the experience. 

One can shift into the aesthetic order of reality, which brackets the pragmatic motive of the paramount province of the everyday in order to savor, for the sake of aisthetikos, the perceptual/sensuous presentation of the image. 

Within the natural attitude this aesthetic province is easily conflated with the cognitive province of knowledge. In the cognitive order, the image is analyzed by applying concepts that serve to increase understanding and to acquire new data in a circumscribed context. 

The images presented in relation to Vajra Dakini, one in particular, can be experienced both aesthetically and as an image of cognitive analysis. A cognitive analysis may either enhance or stifle the aesthetic experience, and vice versa. 

From within the natural attitude, other orders of reality are also naively intended, and the observer usually shifts from one attitudial mode to another without achieving excellence in any one province of meaning-intention. 

The perceiver at times relates the artifact to him or herself personally. It then becomes subjugated to the role of psychological trigger, prompting the observer's thoughts about his or her own life. The Vajra Dakini merely functions as the occasion for introspection in which the self-reflective content only obliquely concerns the image. 

The artifact can also serve sociality, whereby consociates are escorted to the Vajra Dakini for their enjoyment. The value of the artifact in this instance is in its function of providing for a favorable social impression. 

One may focus on the image for its moral edification or as a vehicle for personal propaganda. One may attend to how the image has been produced, or perhaps to the stature of the producer/owner or his or her historical milieu. 

During my first visit to the Vajra Dakini and its associations, I shifted between the natural attitude and the phenomenological attitude, which allowed me to make these preliminary observations concerning attitudinal modifications. 

The problematic could be formulated as such: 

Is it possible to experience the phenomenon of the looking-glass self through an artifact or image that has been owned and expressed by a predecessor? The implications are many. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Exploring Personal Branding Through Play

Oh My !!

I recently changed my profile imagine on FB. Nothing outlandish. Nothing over-the-top, just lighthearted fun. My cover photo ... 

is probably more appealing to a Snapchat audience than to my over 40 FB audience. But I like it and I think it's cool .. and fun. The artist in me wants to draw something like that and the rebel in me is going to keep it up there just because. 

My profile photo ... 

I thought, was rather subdued; in particular given the sort of shocking images one can't help but come across on the Internet (even without trying). It would be a perfect profile photo if instead of the guy tilting his head in a Thales of Miletus sort of way, "Is that ship coming or going?" ... there was a teddy bear in my hand ... because that's more "me" ... but what can you do when you don't even realize someone is taking a photo?

And that's just it ... most of our profile pics are front-based perspectives. But 1/2 of our life experience, like dreaming vs wakeful state - is spent with our greeting people from the front while others experience our backside. 

Most people respond favorably to the front-side greetings, dismissing the backside entirely. When I post front-side profile pics ... the responses are many. 

Since I am not "going for many" but rather multiple opportunities to learn and process the world (so that I can think about it, which I find thoroughly enjoying) posting a rear-facing profile pic has given me a the extraordinary opportunity to "think about" the differences in human response. Sure, there might be a few of the emotional responses like the one that prompted my changing my profile pic in the first place ... (a long-time FB interactor sent me a concerned note about my last profile pic, implying that my image was too sexy and not like my typical smily self ... )

to which at first I found a bit insulting until I thought about my public branding. 

Because I express myself as lighthearted and conservative despite my self-professed playfulness, my images tend toward good, old-fashioned smiles ...

... even though someone recently said one was too "close up" 

The thing of it is ... even though I have played in the space of humor (aesthetic discourse), like everyone, I am interested in many expressions of thought. The common thread that unites the Soph Laugh expression is my experiential approach to life, reflected in my sense of humor ... which is laugh at life (not others). 

As a philosopher, I am not trying to prove anything, which means I might not be a philosopher in the recognized sense of the word. I do not have an overwhelming desire to move people toward "my side of the force" toward my "subjective thoughts on the universe" ... for they are mine. If someone asks me what I think of a subject, depending on the subject, I'm happy to engage ... and while I might not share all my perspectives on a thought, the thoughts I share are sincere with a dash of gratitude and sass for decoration. I truly enjoy interacting with others ... and the enterprise of philosophizing is a way of being for me.  

Naturally I process and try to be attentive to feedback, but I have received feedback from so many points of view that if I were to respond to all of it, I'd be in need of Lucian help. 

Playful Branding 

The concept of Playful Branding deserves deeper consideration, but for now, a shout-out to my many friends, including the two whom I referenced in this note (with good intent) ... 

Remember, we're all just playing here. Some of us are experiencing life from a more serious perspective, some with more gusto behind their "life purpose" .... and some just trying to make it from day to day. 

We can't help placing people into little tiny boxes ...

but doing so means you could miss out on something round or oblong or cone-like

The Real Me

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The War on Plants

The war on drugs was weird enough because it was a war on plants, which I found quite odd. But the whole concept of a war on terror is absurd. How can you declare war on an abstract, on a notion? 

Mark Thomas, comedian

Mark Thomas' potent observation is both political and social. But the war on plants is not just a joke, it is a serious subject. 

Consider the war on drugs. 

The joke concept works because it requires us to imagine an absurd armed struggle in which the enemy is a plant. 

Of course no one who supports the war on drugs thinks they are actually going into battle with plants (at least I hope they don't think that because that would be weird; funny, but weird). In fact, they probably don't think they're engaged in combat in the conventional sense at all. 

The "war on drugs" is a metaphor for a political policy of working to eliminate the supply and use of certain potent, harmful or hallucinogenic plant. 


The Literal Part 

The joke concept "the war on drugs" is deliberately interpreted in an overliteral way. Then, on that interpretation, such a concept, e.g., "war" becomes ridiculous. This is not to say that "war" itself is ridiculous, but rather that the joke concept does not address what the war on drugs is really all about. 

In comedy, jokes and metaphors are transformed into polemic one-liners, gags and clever social commentary that make people laugh. Unlike a careful argument, a joke takes a controversial stance and kicks it square in the frig. 

People laugh because the concept of declaring battle against a flowering plant is literally absurd, though they are not usually thinking about a flowering plant but rather the corruption surrounding its go-to-market strategy. 

Earnest Comedians 

While comedians make us laugh, often times they are earnest about their political objectives and the messages they convey. Making jokes about a topic is a sure sign that the individual has thought about that topic, for whatever their reason. This being said, when a comedian says something that is meaningful to them, they become articulate and persuasive spokespeople for their cause(s). 

Naturally, fans respond to the truth of their words. Even if an individual has interpreted facts divergent from mainstream society, the faith they have in the soundness of their thinking and conclusions is evident ... and audible. In other words, even if they're wrong, they sound kinda "right". 

Taking Plants too Seriously 

This whole post sounds as if the author is taking plants (and comedy) too seriously. But that's just it, jokes hit upon uncomfortable truths. They disturb us by pointing out our struggles, ridiculous or not. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Less is More

Less is more advocates for a minimalist approach to an artistic or aesthetic expression. One might pinpoint the declining number of posts published herein as a minimalist approach to blogging ... 

A philosophy of minimalism is similar to the philosophy of listening in the sense that it is conceptually "empty" but simultaneously "filled in" with thoughts or attributes. 

Speaking (or writing) is only one half of language, in which the power of discourse is highlighted over its necessary compliment: listening or reading. 

In order for one to be 'heard'
another must be listening

Over time society has empowered expressive language with the entire domain of communicating, negating listening.

For some, listening requires a Herculean effort. Most "listen" with the intent of responding. This is based on the idea that one must always know what to say as an expression of self worth. This might be true in certain professional circumstances when one's opinion is being sought, but in interpersonal relationships what we're listening for is the other's intent. 

Individuals with auditory processing challenges do not easily process when someone has asked them a question and is waiting for a response, or when someone has finished speaking and is waiting for them to interject a relevant comment. Over time these individuals end up "second guessing" (because listening intently can be just as exhaustive as speaking non-stop) in order to ease communication. Frequently this can result in "interrupting" the speaker. When an individual is listening so intently that the listener prematurely jumps the gun to speak prior to waiting for speaker's natural pause it can seem as if the individual is disinterested in the subject rather than intensely interested. Knowing your listener helps resolve this potential misunderstanding. 


One does not have to have an auditory processing challenge to accidentally interrupt someone. Some highly charged conversations filled with excitement and fueled by enthusiasm can produce the same interruption effect. 

Similarly, conversations to which little enthusiasm is applied can also result in interrupting. An attempt to "get the conversation over with" so as to move along with one's day indicates a lack of interest in the subject material and results in one person succinctly (sometimes, impatiently) summarizing the other person's premise in order to arrive to the "point" of the matter.  Here, listening has been replaced by processing alone. 


Effective listening starts with concentrated listening combined with knowledge on the subject matter. As such we are selective with whom we share certain information. With strangers, we discuss the weather or non-emotive news headlines. With friends, we discuss our vacations, hobbies and shared interests. With close friends and family, we discuss our lives. With colleagues, we discuss our projects. With ourselves, we discuss all of our discussions prior to having them. 

Just as listening is important to effective communication, so too is knowing what to share with whom and when. Setting the stage for effective communication requires our knowing when to say something and when to remain quiet. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the language experience. 

Relying on the less is more approach can result in a mystery. Others wonder what is being left out and why. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Fascinating Post

*contains emotionally evocative language

In modern English, the term "fascinating" is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as an adjective, something that is "extremely interesting" ...

The Evolution of Fascinating 

Fascinating comes from the Latin fascinum, a representation of a phallus. 

Tiny fasscini were worn by young boys as charms to protect them against the evil eye. In ancient Rome, these phalli were thought to be infused with magical power. 

Today when people claim to be "fascinated" ... 

it generally means that they are captivated by an idea or by an object. While linguists have made countless links to how similarly we and our ancient Greek and Roman ancestors utilize language, "fascinating" is a "funny" example of how language evolves over time. 

The Irony of Fascinating 

Think of the French poet Charles Baudelaire and be instantly transported to his 1857 publication of Les Fleurs du Mal

works characterized as one of the most important (sometimes referred to as "fascinating") contributions to the symbolist and modernist movements. The poems deal with themes relating to decadence and eroticism. 

As irony would have it, Charles Baudelaire having lost his ability to speak from a stroke, except for one phrase he repeated so often that the nuns taking care of him threw him out of their hospital: "Cré nom!" - short for sacré nom de Dieu.  

Today the English equivalent to this word is the historically blasphemous utterance associated with cursing a deity, i.e., "The Lord's name in vain." 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Truth Particle

The Truth Particle  is the power of the human mind to recognize that which is relevant to the discovery of ultimate truth. Until the discovery of the Truth Particle this unclarity about what might be involved in deciphering the knowledge of truth gave rise to doubts whether it was possible at all. 

The traditional framework of scholastic teaching provides a range of patterns for legitimating the belief in the notion of learning, but does not have interpretative authority over the phenomena of spontaneous or internal understanding; a force surrounding the Truth Particle; its relation to the Truth Particle, with the help of common observation and some traditional experimental enquiry, with a splattering of sophisticated forms of logical argument (for good measure). The 21st century Truth Reformation questioned the traditional sources of intellectual authority, but has not produced any consensus, and according to sources is not going to give any of the grant money back; others can download their research on this topic on Scribd.
The controversies surrounding the issue of truth helps to generate movements of skepticism, not only with respect to what truth is, but also what it is not, in particular relation to other forms of supposed knowledge. If it were objected that the belief in truth had no true foundation, defenders of righteousness could reply that things were no better than the belief in transcendental-fluffery.

The Mighty Authority of the Grander Minds Institute had no fully coherent answer to this question, which was bound to recur in the form of asking what peculiar access to truth was possessed by The Mighty Authority, who was after all only another human being, if a very gifted one.

Other ideas on truth occur repeatedly in dialogues concerning different world systems; while the Truth Particle is, significantly, in a position to deploy a clearly developed and dismissive concept of 'intelligence' to make a similar point: 

... nor shall we come out as Truth Sayers, if we speak all the truths of our time, but can form no sound judgement on the matters in question: we shall have learned, not the truth, but history, from which an independent intelligence or recognition arises, that which we call truth. In Co-ops, a confusion of possible answers is generated every 23 seconds of what capacities, food preferences, and nondual yoga could lead to knowledge of the truth. Many vegan thinkers, particularly in Palo Alto and Colorado, understood that their task not to be just the establishment of knowledge about the classical past, but also the revival of the "I'm smarter than you" attitude to knowledge which existed back in high school.
But this understanding was itself surrounded by great uncertainty and shotty wifi signal. Some of these veganarians perhaps did unwittingly recapitulate a feature of fifth-century BCE Greek culture, of which it has been well said that the Greek sophists (who lived before the fundamental logical discoveries of Plato and Aristotle) 'were prone to confuse the force of reason and the power of the spoken word' - in particular with buzz words, which are just as annoying as inviting a sophist to dine.
But that's okay, everybody's got a right to their opinion. In fact, avid Truth Seekers are fascinated by opinions. They do not always share them, but their fodderific content provides endless hours of fascinating entertainment for skeptic seekers. The incapacity to tell the difference between truth and lies and the force of the argument to support or defend either/or contributes to the sceptical disorientation which exists now, as it existed yesterday, and before then.Disregarding Truth Particles leads to run-down traditional logic, which is another word for life-long contempt for reason. 

Adventurous thinkers are uncertain about which dialectical weapons they could use to counter scepticism, but the lack is not important. If there is evidence of real truth in the universe, the fact that one lacks arguments to prove it is possible is of purely philosophical - that is to say, very limited - interest. 

Nevertheless, the charts are nice.