On ‘disliking’ the cultural CUSTOM of celebrating birthdays
On my ‘dislike’ of our cultural CUSTOM of celebrating birthdays
(parties/celebrations and exchange of best wishes are great, but can’t we trigger them differently? [and avoid cyclic repetition])
just in case anyone is interested, my dislike of our custom of celebrating birthdays is explained as follows.
a ‘birthday’ is a particular instance of a more general cultural practice, a practice that is driving us nuts and has people out on the streets in protest around the world, including in north america (wisconsin etc.).
the practice (and ‘science’ is the biggest culprit) is to mentally lift things out of the spatial eco-relations that they are inextricably bound up in, … think of them ‘in isolation’, as ‘things-in-themselves’.
when we do this, we pretend that the development of their form (genesis), the organization in their body, and their behaviour, all comes out of ‘themselves’ so that all we need understand their growth, their internal organization and their behaviour, is a reference grid, and a time-clock.
this, in a nutshell, is the ‘sickness’ of western culture. as nietzsche says, the problem is not that this is ‘total fiction’, which it is, but that we confuse it for ‘reality’. in other words, it is a ‘useful fiction’ so long as we DON’T confuse it for reality, but we are confusing it for reality and it is pervasive source of social dysfunction.
ok, it is not coincidence that amerindians did NOT celebrate birthdays and did NOT use a noun-and-verb language and did NOT name their children ‘john’ and ‘robert’.
‘running-with-wolves’ is a name that seeks to capture the particular character of child’s inner-outer spatial relations; i.e. his ‘habitat-inhabitant’ relations.
‘john’ is like a letter in our phonetic alphabet. it is a symbol that means nothing in itself. our practice is to describe people as ‘things-in-themselves’. thus, john is male, six feet in height, weight 180 pounds and so on, … but these measured properties of ‘john’ don’t stay the same, so that we keep updating them ‘in time’; at age one year, john was … at age two, etc. etc.
we can ‘celebrate john’s growth and development’, year after year, as if he were a ‘thing-in-itself’.
the amerindians do not see the organism as a ‘thing-in-itself’ and they celebrate the spatial-relational ‘unfolding’; i.e. the child’s emergence, his/her first steps, as we do, and his/her reaching puberty (we don’t), his first successful ‘hunt’ or ‘fishing expedition’.
celebrating the growth and development of an organism or organization ‘over the course of TIME’, as a ‘thing-in-itself’ diverts our attention from inner-outer relationship development.
nelson mandela was in a cage for 28 years and his growth and development as seen ‘scientifically’, by looking into the cage, year after year, looked pretty typical for a man of his age (he was 72 when he was released from prison). the ‘tensions’ or ‘potential energy’ that were rising in an inner-outer relational sense, with the people of south africa were continually rising however. these inner-outer relational tensions cannot be seen by looking at the thing in the cage as if it were a ‘thing-in-itself’. those tensions, were like the tensions in the earth that engender and earthquake, and when mandela became president four years later and forgave his former captors who many saw as evil white racists, there was a huge bursting forth of harmonious flux, a ‘cause for celebration’ that is inner-outer (habitat-inhabitant) relations based.
insofar as we orient to the ‘TIME-based-growth of a thing-in-itself’, we start to think of people as ‘local things-in-themselves that grow and develop over time’ and that walk about in the world. that is not realistic and it leads to the difference in the amerindian view that ‘man belongs to the earth’ as compared to the western scientific view that ‘the earth belongs to man’.
modern physics says that material structures are ‘ripple structures in the energy-charged spatial plenum’ while ‘science’ as it is popularly known and practiced, says that material structures are stand-alone things-in-themselves built from atoms. quantum physicists have written books like ‘Blackfoot Physics’ (F. David Peat) to bring out the point that ‘the amerindians were right’ about ‘man belonging to the earth’, but a 2500 year belief, on the part of western culture, in putting local bits of matter [bits-in-themselves] in (unnatural) precedence over space (energy-charged field-flow plenum) is not going to be quickly over-turned. meanwhile those crowds in the street in egypt and tunisia and wisconsin have everything to do with that ‘over-turning’ because a top-down law-regulated society stems from those same assumptions as have us believe that an ‘organism’ is a ‘thing-in-itself’.
the celebration of birthdays, is essentially a celebration of the growth of a ‘thing-in-itself’ which tends to elevate this view of the organism over the view of the organism as a ‘ripple in the spatial plenum’ where its essence is inner-outer relational (habitat-inhabitant relational) rather than stand-alone ‘thing-in-itself’ based.
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example of how language bewitches our mind (Wittgenstein) so as to lift things out of their natural inner-outer relations;
1. 2. 3.
1. what do you see? while this is a ‘composite’ photo of four contemporaneous hurricanes, i think you would agree that this exemplifies the understanding of ‘things’ as ‘ripples in the energy-charged spatial plenum’ as quantum physics and relativity say applies generally to all physical/material phenomena in the universe. you would agree that all of these ‘forms’ take form, develop, move and behave under one another’s mutual influence. that is, it is impossible to REALISTICALLY conceive of these hurricanes as ‘locally existing things-in-themselves’ and undergoing THEIR OWN development of form, movement and behaviour.
2. what do you see? science lifts out one of these forms and presents it as a ‘thing-in-itself’ (a ‘local system with its own locally originating, internal process-driven behaviour) and presents ITS growth, movement and behavior (intensity) in ‘TIME’ steps as if it were ‘in charge’ of ‘its own growth and development’. this is like ‘writing its resumé’. in its first four days of life it did such-and-such, in its next two days it did such and such, and so on, leaving us with the impression IT is a local thing-in-itself that is in charge of its own growth and development. language bewitches, no? as john stuart mill said; “every [language-based] definition implies an axiom [unjustified assumption], that in which we affirm the [local, thing-in-itself] existence of the object defined”.
that is, all of the spatial relations the ‘thing’ is bound up in that we see in (1.), that we swear by our intuitive experience that have to be there, are mentally cast aside by our act of defining and word-labelling (e.g. hurricane Ivan) particular ‘forms’. these forms visibly appear to us to be ‘individual forms’ because of their implied ‘centre’, but the ‘centre’ of a whorl in the flow, is the ‘centre-of-experience’ of the dynamics of thermal and pressure fields, it is not the ‘centre-of-doing’. the whorl, as with the human organism, is more like a sailboat (deriving its power and steerage from the spatial-flow-plenum it is included in) than a powerboat (having its own inboard power and steerage).
3. what do you see? science presents the apple-seed to apple-tree life-cycle as a ‘system-in-itself’, as a ‘system in a cage’, the cage being the reference grid that allows us to measure the changing form, movement and behaviour, as if it were a ‘system-in-itself’; i.e. wherein the habitat does not participate. Aristotle used this same notion, picking the ‘acorn-to-oak-tree’ example.
in this ‘scientific’ view of the ‘evolution’ of a particular species, as ‘local system-in-itself’, there goes all sight of ‘ecosystems’, coevolving (in-the-continuing-present). that is, there goes from our mind and attention, all the webs of relationships within which the acorn-oak-tree is just one of the locally visible transforming systems. from this we get the over-simplistic notion of Darwinism. Darwinism depends on the notion that something ‘internal’ in the organism is responsible for determining the ‘form’ of the organism, but this notion has been refuted by stem-cell and other biological research which shows that identically-the-same DNA is implemented in different ways depending on ‘signals from the environment’; i.e. if the same stem cells are put into three different petri dishes with different solutions in them, the same DNA will be implemented into ‘muscle cells’, ‘fat cells’ and/or ‘bone cells’. DNA (genes) are blueprints that do not ‘self-implement’, they are implemented by ‘signals from the environment’. a growing minority of biological researchers thus saying that darwinism is an over-simplistic view that has to go, but entrenched views resist.
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so, there you go, celebrating members of an ecosystem on the basis of their distinctive forms and appearance, and casting from our mind their inherent ecosystemic relations (their inclusion in a coevolving collective), comes from imputing ‘local thing-in-itself’ being to the form/organism/organization and using a sequence of time snapshots (birthdays) to capture a view of it in the fictional terms of ‘its own growth and development life-cycle’
that’s why i don’t like the ‘custom’ of ‘celebrating birthdays’,… the parties and the inner-outer relations that associate with them are great, … we just need to reorient the celebrations to inner-outer unfolding developments, rather than to the hands on the clock having gone ‘round one more time.
for a more comprehensive view into this way that our culture is distorting our views of space and matter see http://goodshare.org/wp/rant/