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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Everything is change

Heraclitus was right: everything is change, permanence is an illusion. Without change the mind goes blank.

H eraclitus, the famous pre-Socratic philosopher, claimed that only one fundamental thing existed: fire. Plato characterized Heraclitus as saying you cannot step into the same river twice.

Today instead of fire we would call it energy. Energy is change; things that don't change become like dark matter: they don't absorb or emit energy. We know of their existence only because they occupy space and exert a gravitational influence.

Physiologists also tell us we cannot see the world as it is; we can only see change. If the world stopped changing, it would become invisible to us. The photons that reach our eyes are only emitted because something changed in the source. Our eyes rapidly adapt, so even constant change rapidly becomes invisible. To continue seeing it, we're programmed to move our eyes constantly. What we really perceive is the rate at which things are changing.

Monongahela River You wouldn't want to step in this one twice

Our memories cannot record things that don't change. Creating a memory is, of course, itself a change in our brain circuitry. The hardest thing to see is that which does not change. Maybe that's why it's so hard for us to under­stand what spacetime, for example, really is.

Why, then, do so many people complain about how the world is changing? Is it because we want our mental activity to cease?

Of course what people are really complaining about is that the world is changing in the wrong way. When taxes go down, and contrary to their predictions the economy takes off like a rocket, people who previously claimed to embrace change start complaining about change. Their claim to be open to change was only a lie.

How do they respond? Many respond by trying to block the flow of information. It is a classic nonproductive response to change. If you can't stop change, block out knowledge of it.

If instead of constructing a logical argument you block the voices of anyone who disagrees with you, it's not just because you lack confidence in your beliefs. It's a sign you're losing the ability to reason intelligently. When that happens all that remains is emotional feelings.

That is the purpose of invective: to make others' minds go blank, to excite the mob.

I've often wondered: when an activist or some obscure movie star—and since I find most movies these days predictable and tedious, that means all of 'em, including movies by some guy named Robert Deniro, whoever he is—says “F*** Trump” or “F*** whatever I happen to be mad about, which I am too lazy even to spell out,” what could they be thinking? Are they thinking “I have a strong opinion on this matter, and I must express it in the stupidest and least convincing way I can”?

Maybe they are. Or maybe they're wrapped up in a cocoon so tight they don't realize that saying 'eff this' and 'eff that' is a way of admitting to the world that their mind has gone blank. They're trying to create change in the only way that remains available to them: by inciting collective mob violence.

The incitements to mob violence we've seen in the past few weeks are too vile and too numerous even to link to here. Mob violence is collectivism's greatest danger. The mob has no mind and no sense of proportion: if the mob heads for a cliff, they all go over.


The F word is an odd expression: you can only say it about things that are impossible to eff. And President Trump is certainly ineffable. So what Deniro was really saying is “Look at me! I still exist!” which, in fact, is actually news, or at least it was news to me. And so they produced the change they intended.

As Michael Walsh says in his book The Fiery Angel, the voters believe candidates always lie, so they rely on their gut instinct:

It's up to the electorate to sort out the man from the myth; the voting public reacts and votes emotionally, not cerebrally—much to the frustration of the ivy league— . . . but the voters can smell a fraud, know when they're being peddled something, which is why the Moron often wins. [p.104]

He's using the term ‘moron’ ironically, by the way.

The common vehicle for expressing the effable, the ‘tweet’, is highly apt. Birds have special calls they use to avoid collisions when flying. They mean: “Hey, I'm flyin' here!” Being small and inconspicuous, they must make constant noises so other birds know they still exist. It's their response to change, and unlike their other calls it has no more content than a sonar ping.

Mob rule is what awaits all of us if censorship succeeds. Whenever one hears only one side the mind simply stops working. And that's the real reason why people censor. They don't want change, because it will force them to think. These days, it seems that's a fate worse than death.

jun 24 2018, 6:26 am

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