Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Quick Wave.

There have been a few times over the past couple of weeks when I considered making a post explaining why I haven’t made any posts for the past couple of weeks, but the very idea of feeling the need to explain seemed insufferably self-important.

Nevertheless, I am aware that a few people visit this blog regularly, and a few of those few might have a passing interest in knowing that I haven’t rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible yet. I haven’t, not yet. ‘More’s the pity’ you might say, and you might be right.

I expect to be back if and when the smog clears.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

Thank you for the quick wave. We've been concerned. Hope the smog clears soon.

With best regards (and more than a passing interest),


JJ Beazley said...

Why thank you, Nancy. I've been a little concerned about your Mistress M, too. I've taken to watching videos of Mr Dog and St Mark's cemetery; at least I get to see her shoes to remind me of livelier times.

As for the smog... Bit in the lap of the gods, that one. Do you have the term 'smog' in America, by the way? In Britain we mostly associate it with pre-60's London.

Anonymous said...

Mistress M. has been quite well. She's busy with her work. I miss her blog too.

And yes, we have the term 'smog' here, especially in Los Angeles.

JJ Beazley said...

Glad there were no wrecks and nobody drownded.

When I was about 9 or 10, my stepfather wanted to take his car to the lock-up garage one smoggy night. I had to walk along the pavement ahead of him, shining a torch on the kerb and any upcoming obstructions. It was the first time I remember being useful for anything. I've kept it rationed ever since.

Della said...

Good to know you're doing well J.J., just checking in.

JJ Beazley said...

Thank you Della. Glad you still have the World Cup to keep your pot boiling.

Della said...

Ha, ha...not a football fan, but you're obviously joking. Having said that, I will watch tonight's game alongside my non-football fan husband – because it's U.S. vs. Germany and somehow that brings out a little nationalistic feeling. I'll be rooting for Germany :)

Anonymous said...

I think of smog as being a daytime phenomenon only, although it must still be there during the night. On the other hand, I can remember my father having to open the car door to see the center line while driving during a pea soup fog one night.

Hope you are well,

Madeline said...

I always thought smog was a byproduct of industrialization - you know, coal-powered industry, and later on power plants and cars that released so-called "greenhouse gases." One of the prices we have to pay for increased mobility, enhanced communication, etc. Maybe I have that in my head because I'm reading a book about the origin of AIDS, which argues that the epidemic could really only have happened now, because at any point in the past the circumstances wouldn't have been right for such a slow-acting and not-very-contagious virus to proliferate. Which is to say that it's another one of the consequences of industrialization and globalization. (For better or for worse there gets to be a point where I can only think in -zations.) The bubonic plague was the same way, taking advantage of newly established trade networks to infect unprecedented numbers of people.

In any case it ties into something I have been wondering lately, which is whether happiness (or rather all positive emotions) is possible without sadness (or negative emotions) - not on the individual level, but by species. I am not a microbiologist but I'm guessing that protozoa do not feel elated, or depressed or jealous or anxious. That's an extreme example but you get my point. With a larger and more complex brain comes the capacity for feelings of happiness and fulfillment, and for knowledge and humor and empathy and understanding and all of the things we think make us human. But sadness, anxiety, hatred, and anger come as well and they also make us human. Anyone who suffers from one of these is paying the price for humanity's ability to learn, love, and feel joy - just as we pay the price for human advancement through smog and plague and AIDS and Justin Bieber.

This leads me to a claim my mother has often made (which I am too lazy to substantiate), which is that smarter people (or more highly sensitive people?) experience more anxiety and depression than others do, as if the capacity for mental achievement and the capacity for mental suffering were both controlled by one dial, which can either be turned up or down - not only on the species level but on the individual level, as if the individual were a microcosm of the species.

I guess I'm just kind of rambling now, and probably being very presumptuous about your situation, but that's just what I think about when I think about smog.

Hope things are looking up for you.


JJ Beazley said...

Where do I start with this one? On a personal note, I think:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three years, it’s that when Maddies do something, they do it good. I don’t know where you sprang from, Ms M, but I’m glad you did. As for the rest…

All propositions and suspicions valid. (Justin Bieber is a relatively unknown commodity to me, but I take the point.) You got me thinking, and it’s complicated, isn’t it? I was denied formal, extended education by my stepfather, but I think I’ve just about earned a PhD in the subject of The More You Think about Something, the More Complex it Becomes and the More You Realise that the Ultimate, Definitive Answer is a Very Rare Animal. Nevertheless, a few random thoughts did wander randomly around:

1. I was reading recently about some research which indicated that marine crustaceans are capable of feeling not only pain, but also anxiety. This suggests that they have a level of self-awareness and some perception of temporal reality. Lobsters aren’t as dumb as they look, although Justin Bieber might be.

2. It brought up again the question of whether consciousness is a product of the brain, or whether it exists independently (probably as a fragment of some universal phenomenon) and simply uses the brain to function. Your propositions remain valid in both cases. As the brain evolves, the consciousness has more to work with. Maybe?

3. I wonder whether there is any correlation between high intelligence (as defined, rather subjectively, by our culture) and sensitivity. Clearly, there are people of low native intelligence who are highly sensitive, just as there highly intelligent people who are as cold as marble.

4 I’ve noticed that some people are highly sensitive when things affect them personally, but are quite insensitive to the needs of others. Maybe that’s more to do with awareness or an extended capacity for self-interest.

5. Maybe some of us are actually a different species from a distant galaxy and have forgotten the fact.

6. I think there was another one, but I’ve forgotten what it was.

Anyway, have to go eat now and then paint a wall. Fancy fishing for bullheads in the creek later? We could talk before letting them go again.