big thoughts

Which are strikingly non-verbal. I’ve been reading the creativity pages on http://www.gapingvoid.com, part of which talk about change. Change and venture capitalism and the global micro-brand and so on.

Made me wonder why it is that I can’t make a living at thinking big thoughts. And then it occurred to me that I sort of am making a living at thinking big thoughts.

Anyway, I started thinking about Hegel’s Dialectic, or the profitable contradiction that is a simplified extrapolation of Hegel’s philosophies. I think of it like a rock climber looking for footholds at opposite ends of his reach that progressively move him/her up the rock.

And then something seems like the idea is too big and it just gets swallowed up in itself. I called my dad to ask him if he ever got ideas that were so big he couldn’t really think about them. He acted like I might just be insane after all.

Let me try this again.

See, gapingvoid.com talks about how the entire paradigm of survival is shifting, and that people either have to get with the change at worst, or ride the leading edge of the change at best. But ignoring the upcoming upheaval (socially and economically) is fatal. I think this is true in many many ways.

But the historian in me looks at the other earth-shattering changes that we’ve been through, and I wonder how “earth-shattering? it can really be. After all, we moved from hunter-gatherers to farmers and from cottage industries to monolith industries. Revolutionary items like the computer and networks have made their way into our lives with relative ease. So perhaps some paradigms will no longer be available. Okay, but it is unlikely to upset the average Joe too seriously.

Part of the reason why it is unlikely to be too earth-shattering is that those who hold the power depend on an employed middle-class. Think about the great depression. For a while the great magnates of the 20’s and 30’s, as well as the government, was quite happy to let everyone starve. But eventually it became obvious that where the middle class goes, the upper class follows. If the middle class doesn’t work and can’t consume, then there are no taxes and there are no revenues to be had. Someone has to buy for there to be a profit.

Additionally, the last thing you want is a bunch of well-educated men sitting around with nothing to do. For good reasons why bored, unemployed men damage a smoothly-operating, complacent society, look at the Middle East. People with something to lose don’t start revolutions. The system is interested in preserving itself. This seems like a safe universal truth, one that just about everyone gets invested in. Just ask someone who is comfortable in their job position about changing a set of forms or something minor. Oh no, that can’t be done. It disrupts the system. And what they mean by that is that a system works like a molecule. It is comprised of a bunch of smaller systems all orbiting around in easily predicted patterns. At the most fundamental level, each individual is a system unto itself and that very small system wants to continue in its well-worn paths. The big system is not disturbed because the small systems are not interested in having their pathways altered.

EVERYONE wants to carry on with the system. Well, almost everyone.

And what happened with the Great Depression? The government created work for thousands so that the system could carry on and a middle class could continue to purchase product so the wealthy could continue to be so.

At the most practical level, there is nothing in the way the universe works that encourages equality. There must always be someone on the bottom and someone on the top. (Social constructs are based on a linear version of physics, a Newtonian world view, in a way. I would be very interested to see how society would look if it were based on Quantum physics and string theory.)

And here is where Hegel comes in. Both items are true. Everything is changing and nothing changes.

Gapingvoid.com dude seems to foresee a future where the creative types, the ones who strike out on their own will be the survivors and will multiply while the ones who play safe and sheep-like will… well, what will they do? Fall behind?

Well, here is the trouble. We can’t all be at the top. We can’t all be amazing, and strike out on our own. Instinct is too hard to overcome. The thing that holds us back is consequence. Yeah, so you strike it out on your own and you make it big and you can afford health insurance and the like. What happens if you fail? There are consequences. And sure you have to pay them no matter which way you turn – a life lived as a sheep is expensive too, just in a different way. The difference is that sheep generally survive. Bored, perhaps, quietly miserable and the rest. US society isn’t particularly forgiving of failure. No health insurance? That freak kidney infection will kill you. No money? The bank will foreclose. You will not have the wherewithal to put down a security deposit on rent and you will not have the funds to move to San Diego, where you have a good chance of surviving the winter.

Sheep don’t fly, but when they fall, they don’t hit as hard..

Hegel again, or perhaps quantum physics. An electron can be two places at once. There is no outcome until you measure it. It is true that sheep don’t fly and they don’t hit as hard when they fall. It is also true that it is worth the risk in flying. One choice is not better than another.
I just think that, by the time you are old enough to have the self-assurance to choose against the heard, it is no longer just you: It is one thing to allow yourself to fly, crash and burn. It’s another to take a family with you. Some of us have to take the risk anyway – my father, for instance. Some of us end up living impaled on the dialectic. I think you could line the path to more than one of Ivan the Terrible’s castles with those of us that fall into that category.

And there is nothing wrong with it: all choices are valid here

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big thoughts

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