Posts Tagged ‘material existence’

Food and Travel with Anthony Bourdain

4 October 2016

After a second exposure to Bourdain’s shows during a layover at the bus station in Portland, I wanted to write a bit about these shows.

For some reason, his Parts Unknown show on Libya, which dates from 2013, was being re-broadcast that day in Portland. I also saw his show on Istanbul (Turkey).

Some time ago I’d seen at least one of his shows featuring Chinese foods.

On this more recent occasion, I’d just finished eating a very decent hamburger at the new café at the Portland bus station, and had also gone through 3 brochures printed for travelers which – who couldn’t guess – all focused on food.

The show on Libya was blatantly anti-Gaddafi, portraying him as a hopelessly misled and ruthless dictator. The more basic fact is that Gaddafi was anti-West. If you look at what the West has done during its period of dominance over the planet, and where Gaddafi lived (in an Arab nation), this attitude would not be unexpected.

The Istanbul show was very unsure about the “goodness” of Erdoğan, and sympathetic to the Kurds. Erdoğan, for his part, has been vacillating in his support of NATO, particularly after learning that they may have had something to do with the recent coup attempt.

The West’s War of Ideas

The tactic that has been followed by the West in its conquest of the planet is to portray its opponents as “anti-freedom” rather than anti-West, and to fight against them on the basis that they are “bad” rather than that they are simply enemies. Over the centuries of European expansion into other areas of the planet, this tactic has taken many forms. It was particularly convoluted when it turned against other Europeans, such as the Germans before, through, and after WWII. In many times and places it was eventually backed away from, such as in the American colonies and later in countries like India. But this only meant that the intention to hold sway over these areas became more understated, or covert.

What is really exactly happening on the planet remains subject to debate, as no facts seem clear enough to be totally persuasive. But I find the whole argument regarding how the media (print, radio, TV, internet) has been subverted by these European-centered interests to be very persuasive. Thus on a secondary (if not primary) level, shows like Bourdain’s become propaganda vehicles for the West’s viewpoint on life and politics.

Travel and Food

The Western idea of a “successful” person is one who can enjoy travel and food in his older years, if not during his entire life. Anthony fits this definition and thus becomes a role model (winning valence) to be imitated. His neo-liberalism then comes along as part of the package. It is a basically synthetic attitude that the entertainment industry likes to develop in its celebrities to convince us that there are no higher awarenesses worth pursuing. This limits us to the lesser games of liberal-versus-conservtive, or progressive-versus-traditionalist.

Until I was introduced to Hubbard’s work, I was convinced that the game of life was limited roughly as stated above. My only problem was that the managing groups were obviously lying to us about some things, and I could not understand why. There also seemed to be a lot more violence going on than was really necessary.

Freedom

To go where you want and eat what you want are considered the ultimate attributes of freedom in the West. If this means you kill a few basically innocent people along the way, that fact has no basic bearing on the overall facts concerning how the game of life is limited. Or so we are being told.

What Hubbard taught is that a higher-level game of life has been operating for a very long time, and that our managers have an interest in keeping us unaware of this.

At the higher levels, management as we know it becomes unnecessary or irrelevant. If we were to aspire to these higher levels, what would our managers do? The most entrenched among them are hopeless to the point of total unknowing on the possibility of moving themselves up to a higher level of game. Thus, if some of us were able to achieve this state, it would appear to them as a threat to their very existence (which it would not actually be). So, they reactively – if not consciously – oppose any trend towards an awareness of the higher levels of the game. And their “enemies” have become anyone with an interest in working at those higher levels.

Thus their “enemies” become anyone with a serious interest in higher spiritual abilities. That includes all the followers of the more ancient teachings – mostly the aboriginal peoples of this planet – as well as various renegade groups within the framework of monotheism as well as beyond it, and their attempts to re-invent religion or spiritual practice into something more workable and true to genuine human aspirations.

The handling for these “enemies” has been to invent various pretexts for going to war with them and killing them off. That this has not in fact been very effective does not seem to phase the managers; they have no other “solution” to this “problem.”

The Role of Aesthetics in Propaganda

Aesthetics are needed to give the basically low-awareness propaganda of the managers of the West an appeal to their target audiences, those who seek a higher awareness. You can just lie to the others and they will accept it. To convince this target audience is a little more tricky.

Anthony’s shows are examples of this use of aesthetics. They are very artfully shot, and very carefully assembled. All aesthetic aspects are given attention, including the artfulness of the food itself, and the places being visited. The sound track, the music; they are all carefully put together for every show. This type of treatment has always been a “hook” to help pull in the seekers of higher awareness.

Do ordinary people who have lost interest in higher realms watch Anthony’s shows? I doubt it. But a lot of people who have been asking questions and playing around with spiritual ideas do watch his shows, I bet. These are people still on the fence, unsure of themselves spiritually. There are a lot of them and they are important politically. Liberated, they are capable of getting a lot of good done. Captive, they are capable of preventing a lot from getting done. The old-line managers want to keep these people on their side. And the new-line groups want to add these people to their ranks more than any other type of person.

The Future

What we all face, of course, is the future. What Scientologists, and many others to a lesser extent, know is that we will be in that future. We may or may not forget who we were before. We may or may not have the same adventurous approach to life we chose this lifetime. But – good or bad – we will be there. So we are intimately connected to the future on a long-term basis, not just in the context of one lifetime, or the lifetimes of our children.

The materialists and fence-sitters are unsure of this at best, and totally unaware of this at worst. They are turning away from the whole subject of responsibility, even if their own future experience is at stake. They can’t allow themselves to believe that they could be that responsible.

Some posit this as a “war.” But that is only true on the lower levels. The truth of the situation is that those who want to “ascend” cannot do so simply by “getting rid” of those who don’t want to. In the short term, it is highly advisable to minimize one’s exposure to such people (one reason I don’t watch television as a habit). But in the long term, we will have to bring them all along with us, or they will return later to try again to pull us back down again. So, it would not be incorrect to characterize this as a “struggle.” LRH has described it as “a game where everyone wins.” Well, they know that there are always losers in a game. LRH posits that the loser in this case is the “bank” (that portion of the mind that produces non-survival ideas and actions). But most people are as yet unaware that this exists as something separate from themselves. That problem defines the first hurdle in this struggle.

On the other side of this struggle lies a future that is difficult for most to even imagine. It involves a knowing and causative separation from the physical world, including the physical forms of life (biology, etc.), yet the probable indefinite continuation of the physical world in some form. It involves a knowing conviction of our own immortality without necessarily totally turning away from the various “thrills” of physicality. It involves ideas and experiences which we have – in theory – never experienced before, which would be entirely new.

For me right now, the most important thing that future holds is an abiding respect for truth; an end to all the fouler forms of secrecy and deception; and a chance for great happiness for every being who desires it.

Could Anthony and his show exist in this future? It probably could. But it would be minus the lies and pretense that encumber it now. After all, there are a lot of “parts unknown” left in this universe! We can’t all visit all of them ourselves. Or could we?

Epilogue

On 8 June 2018 Anthony was found dead in his room while he was working on a Parts Unknown episode in France. The media is saying suicide.

Commentators applaud his basic love of humanity – of the common man – and this is a very worthy attribute.

Let him be remembered as the good person he undoubtedly was.

Life as a Process

11 May 2012

Most recently my head has been buried in matters related to computer programming.

So why this waxing philosophic?

  1. It is time – past time really – to take a new look at the world around us.
  2. Programming languages are based on certain philosophic principles.
  3. When you write programs for the purpose of understanding how to do it, you run into these principles.
  4. If you have prior philosophic training, you may find these principles interesting, rather than just annoying or dogmatic.

Objects

In programming we have this term “object.” It means “an instance of a class.” If that doesn’t clarify things for you, I don’t blame you. But I’m going to keep this light; I’m not going to resort to my Webster’s. A “class” is a pattern for an object. Like a gene is a pattern for a protein. An “instance” is an actual example of something created from a class. A person is an “instance” of his genetics, in this sense. And the browser window you are reading this in is an instance of the various classes that were specifically designed to make browser windows. The “browser program” defines the process, as a series of steps, for creating and working with a browser window.

Processes

We usually think of an object as a thing that doesn’t “change” unless a process acts upon it. This is a convenient and workable way of thinking, but at its core it is flawed. If the objects all around us – including us – were not in a constant state of change, they would all disappear. In macro terms, we are constantly changing position in every frame of reference except our own. And in micro terms, we now know that atoms and subatomic particles are, in fact, in constant motion.

Thus from the point of view of a human in material existence, it even requires a process of some kind for objects to appear to remain the same. Without some sort of continuing process, an object would vanish as soon as the process creating it finished. This actually happens in programming.

For example, for my systems analysis class I wrote a little program that simulates how a grocery checkout system works. When the clerk holds an item over the scanner, the scanner detects the bar code of the item and sends it to a database. The database responds with data about the item, which the system temporarily stores in an ITEM object. This data is then inspected and processed, if necessary (does the item need to be weighed? etc.), and when that is done, the item data is copied over to the INVOICE object, and the ITEM object is destroyed. The ITEM object does not appear again until a new item is scanned, and the process is repeated.

Physically, a shopping basket is being emptied of items, which are being handled, one-by-one by the cashier, and are then put into a shopping bag. So, the physical items simply get handled and moved to a new location, while the logical ITEMS get created, inspected, and destroyed over and over.

In both cases, we are talking about process. But for me, the life cycle of an ITEM in a checkout program really brought it home for me. The continued existence of ANY OBJECT depends on a continuing process. You could even call an object a process.

 

Spirit

An example of this problem is the attitude of science to the concept of spirit.

Academically trained writers have trouble with spirit. They reason that, since the spirit has no physical properties, it could not rightly be said to “exist.”

I stood in my kitchen one day not long ago, just after reading such a discussion, and watched the wind blowing around the bushes and trees outside. And I thought, “spirit is like the wind.” After all, I realized later, the word comes from a word for “breath.”

And certainly, no one would argue that “wind” doesn’t exist! But “wind” is a name for a process. The process involves the movement of air from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. We don’t study wind and rain as “things” (I hope). We study them as processes. And that is really the only way to study spirit.

Everything is a process

But according to my earlier discussion, what, in fact, is NOT a process?

Hm.

The postulate of an “unchanging object” is in fact a matter of mere intellectual convenience. Within certain frames of reference, or rules of play if you want to use a game analogy, certain objects can be thought of as non-changing unless acted upon by a process that changes them. But this is simply intellectually convenient. It is not, ultimately, the truth of what is going on.

The truth is that everything is a process. Some processes are relatively insignificant in most games, and can be ignored. Others are more significant. But to overlook this truth is to make a major error.

Particle physics has had two major approaches.

One approach involves creating a very small space in which a lot of energy is added in. This tends to “expose” processes that are normally very private. In this way they have discovered “particles” with very short lifetimes that normally are created and destroyed inside of other particles.

The other approach has been to create a very small space in which a lot of energy is drained out (usually by cooling). The matter inside this space tends to simplify, or act more like it would under “ideal” conditions. You get superconductivity, superfluidity and other phenomena that indicate that the various processes in matter start to cease to interfere with each other, or in fact can be “turned off.”

However, this is nothing, in my mind, compared to the various experiments in what we currently call the “paranormal” during which “solid objects” have been observed to appear and disappear (materialize and dematerialize) according to the will of someone with “psychic powers.”

Scientific study of spiritual phenomena

If science is willing to entertain the possibility – as they have had to do in particle physics – that the subject they are studying is basically a process and not an “object,” then we may have an entrance point to the problem of how to study the spirit.

Particle physicists are now well aware that what they are basically studying is a process, and that what they are perceiving are the effects of this process. When asked to give a name to this process, they usually come up with “nature.” They could have just as easily come up with “god” or “spirit.” Conceptually, there is really very little difference. The main difference is that “nature” is conceived to be a totally unbiased agent of change, whereas “god” is considered to have attitudes about things. I think, though, if we really looked into it, we would find that “nature” also has attitudes about things.

If spirit is best thought of as a process, then the only real question is to what extent “spirit” and “nature” are equivalent concepts. To the extent that they are (surprise!) science has really been studying spirit all along! And spiritualists have also really been studying nature all along.

While the spiritualists are ready to concede this point, the scientists, for the most part, are not. The path to such a concession could be – and I hope it is – shorter than previously thought.