Realizing the Ungraspable

I find myself visited lately by an idea, a figment of imagination that, during times of contemplation come and go, hint at an ellusive potential for understanding; thoughts of solutions and resolutions appear, slip and fade replaced by new enigmas always wavering on the edge of consciousness remembered clearly then lost, evaporating, caroming into then out of view; ideas within sight for an instant but ungraspable, mind fluctuating from one ill-defined thought to another, the intangeable true reality beyond reach. Something of value may be there twisting into then out of focus. How long must I wait for the idea to appear.

Short Term Memory Loss

My short-term memory isn’t what it once was. I find myself, while visiting with a new acquaintance, forgetting her name before the conversation is over and twenty minutes after dinner is over, I’ve forgotten what I just ate and how many times while retrieving a needed item I’ve forgotten what I was retrieving. I guess I find these small memory slips more amusing than concerning but the realization the issue is a symptom of age and is degenerative is undeniable.

The upside, though, of short-term memory loss is I’m less inclined to hang onto negative occurrences. Experiencing the moment in terms of past memories leaves time for contemplation. It’s good, I think, to feel a sense of peace in aging.

The ‘Unwoke’

I’ve been thinking lately about the ‘Woke’ movement and the hot-button issues of social inequality. The thinking goes, I guess, that any pretense of a liberal acknowledgement of social disparities has no foundation in fact since the white powers that be exist within an innate racist, sexist and homophobic psyche. As a result, a political dualism has occurred: while championing equality for all as the ideological ideal a system favorable to the white heterosexual majority is being maintained.

Unfortunately, the volatility of the demonstrative ‘Woke’ proponents will continue to fail to move the unwoke who reside in a state of quiet disinterest and private preoccupation. There is hope, I suppose, in the changing demographic with people of color as well as those seeking trans-gender identities increase in numbers.

The Human Soul

I’ve been reading about the various ways the human soul is perceived by various religious traditions as well as non-believers. In most cases the soul is seen as an entity that remains in existence after death of the body. For those uninclined toward religious dogmatisms the soul may, if accepted as existential at all, likely lack individual identity and will, after death, merge into a collective unconscious, a mindless and immaterial essence.

A common religious perspective has the soul maintaining the identity, personality and memories of the individual from which it emanates. If one is to experience the benefits of heaven or the eternal miseries of Hell such a soul will be necessary, even as such a belief may be a strain on the thoughtful faithful who may have trouble with the idea of a functioning dead brain.

Another concept of soul can be found in the scifi realm. A ‘cortical stack’ situated between the brain and spinal column containing one’s identity is found to be portable. This ‘personality package’ can be transferred once one’s body wears out into a fresh physical specimen creating in effect a new you. Belief in such futuristic technology will certainly be a significant strain on even the most avid of scifi proponents.

Anticipating a future reality beyond life as we know it is something humankind has been contemplating for millennia and it’s pretty compelling for many of us to continue to do so. Contemplation is never a bad thing.

Must there be a Why?

I’ve been reading about the billiard ball analogy often applied to the rule of cause and effect. The idea is that when a propelled ball (the cause) strikes its target, the trajectory of the struck ball (the effect) is without question as it moves in a straight line until encountering resistance, change direction: movements predictable within the basic laws of physics.

Such theory is simplistic in application to human experience where the obvious complexity of possible causes (personal biases, religious beliefs) isn’t easy to apply to human experience, especially in cases of spur of the moment, spontaneous actions. In contemplating such behaviors we’ll always seek explanations, assume a disturbed mind or an innate animal nature. But perhaps some actions occur without cause or reason, immaculate in their spontaneity like the Big Bang of creation. Maybe we’re better off sometimes not seeking causes.


I’ve been thinking about how language so often simplifies things, reduces complexities to opposites; consider definitions of race (black, white) or political perspectives, just to name two.

Dichotomies, conceptual opposites, seem to be primary to definition for many of us. Not sure whether such thinking is the result of a desire for a basic grasp of contemporary issues or just laziness. In any case it’s a phenomenon exacerbated by the media that tend to project sound bites, click bait to attract followers, I guess. And then there’s our inherent biases, the intuitive inclinations that lead us to champion or demonize.

Philosophers have been contemplating the idea of dualism for a long time as an issue of body vs mind, leading some (Plato, for example) to entertain the notion of an eternal soul, the mind being incorporeal, which might explain a lot about religious participation.

Maybe humankind is destined to live a heaven/hell existence. In practice, though, finding common ground would seem to be more practical.


I’ve been reading about a new on-line application for students to resource that will complete written assignments for them. Given subject and context, ChatGPT will not only produce an essay or term paper of desired length but will write it in a manner consistent with the sort of language and syntax expected of a student of average intelligence. The technology is apparently leading some instructors and schools to re-think their curricula, which, I guess, means substituting oral responses or in-class spur of the moment essays for more conventional written work.

Just wondering what a chatbot might do with my brief musings, what the AI, given a few samples of past posts would deem consistent, whether it would find it necessary to throw in a misspelling or two, maybe a sentence fragment; a few unnecessary semi-colons.

Well, I don’t think I’ll go there; what would I do with all the spare time?

A Whole Fear Quick

I’ve been reading the stories of Flannery O’Connor lately. The secluded culture of rural Mississippi in the 1940’s along with her inventive brilliance led to the creation of phrases that capture essential human experiences. One phrase that particularly struck me relates the idea of sudden discomfort someone might experience as thoughts unravel in contemplation.

‘A whole fear quick’ effectively captures, it seems to me, the anxieties that tend to spring up as one proceeds through unsettling daily encounters, dark thoughts emerge from the past and/or uncertain anticipations invade the mind: mental meanderings in which WFQ’s bound to the surface of one’s mind with regularity.

Such uncomfortable thoughts are all controllable, of course, understood in context. These are thoughts that can be dealt with prior to any sort of panic attack. If it were otherwise, if the unpleasantness became incapacitating, it might be time to home in on thoughts of an escapist nature, thinking about existence on an uninhabited desert island while at the same time experiencing amnesia. Such a scenario would promise a serenity of sorts, think.

A Mysterious Past

I’ve been wondering how to think about what has been. No longer existent, one’s past can only be imagined. Unlike the present or future, the past would seem to be ‘written in stone’ but for the interpretations we impose on it as we encounter new experiences.

Interpreting one’s past is further complicated by the complexities of our belief systems, moral imperatives and ability to think logically and reason. Our memories, furthermore, record only snapshots of past experiences limited by our fragmentary sensory capacities and fleeting attention spans, and for some of us experiential bits are conveniently forgotten in support of a delicate ego.

I’m beginning to realize the ‘what was’ is a realm of Being steeped in mystery. I sense my history is rich with unrecoverable experiences: makes me wonder how much potential understanding I’ve left behind.

The Look of Love

I read in the paper the other day that Burt Bacharach died. News items sprinkled with his biggest hits reminded me, and I’m sure many others who grew up in the ’60’s, of our post-high school days. Listening to Burt’s music has me remembering the naivete we shared, the romantic perspectives we embraced. Remembering some of the lyrics now, though, is a real eye-opener. Consider: ‘on the day that you were born the angels got together and decided to create a dream come true, so they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold and star light in your eyes of blue.’ Deeply romantic, I guess, but now it makes me wince.

Even considering Viet Nam and the Kennedy assassination we were of a simpler nature then, a bit less jaded, it seems to me. The tunes do bring back fond memories of convertible cruising on summer nights and minimal responsibilities, and I guess listening to Burt’s music may have had some positive effects on our developing psyches.