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Since I Never Get the Last Word


Sunday, April 23, 2006
In nomine

I have this image of myself wearing my body like a suit of clothes. Not original, I know, but it works for me now and then and gives me a chance to think about who I am.

Am I this body? Does that define me? “No,” I say, “no.”

I am much more than this body. My fingers push the keys – not as accurately as my mind directs – that put these words out here for you to read but the thoughts are not my body’s thoughts.

Or are they?

Descartes thought so but he never got around to explaining how this could be so. I read that unless that you can explain how we think, the mere fact of thinking proves nothing about who we are. That makes sense to me.

I also listened to a man tell me that truth is a process and not an end and I found his argument convincing. He claims the blind men and the elephant are a metaphor for the process. Each has his version of the truth and for him it is right. Even the elephant has its own version of the truth. All together they have another, more complete version of the truth. All together they are on their way to objective truth.

It’s the journey that is important, not the finish.

“Who am I?” I wonder.

Last night, I decided that I am a name, my name. That defines me as nothing else can define me. Oh, I thought for a while that I am the third child of a seven child family and that defines me as well as anything else. I rejected fatherhood or program manager or man who lives with a woman as things I do, not something I am, attributes, properties, but only legs of the elephant. Being the third child is not something I did so maybe it could define me. It turns out to be just another property.

To the best of my knowledge, there is only one me, only one me with my name.

I can be defined by name.

No wonder names are so powerful.

I went to sleep before I could be buried by the next question.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-23 08:46:02


Thursday, April 20, 2006
RS Can Stay at Our Place

Since I first encountered Rocket Sheep on these boards almost five years ago I find that I now pay more attention to all things sheepish, a rise in my appreciation of a specific segment of biodiversity if you will. I’ll make it to politically savvy sooner or later. Anyway, as part of my ongoing education in sheep stuff, I examined the charts provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations [not to be confused with FAO Schwartz which sells toys and such] that depict the levels of animal products in the human diet. From this information, I conclude RS is living in the wrong part of the world. As of 1998, 35-40% of the Australian diet was made up of animal products. Of that figure, fully 13% was mutton. Sheepie, old friend, that’s the highest mutton consumption rate in the world. Run! Run! Rocket away as fast as ever you can.

Where should you run to? I’m glad you asked. Stay out of Africa. 8% of their meat consumption is mutton. Asia is at 3%; Europe at 2%, and Latin American and the Caribbean are at 1%. In the good ole U.S. of A., we don’t eat enough mutton to even register as a percentage of our intake even though 25-30% of our diet is meat products.

If you are a sheep then, our place appears to be the safest.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-20 09:04:43


Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Morality Between Lovers

About the time I am certain that my moral compass is precisely oriented I stumble across a conundrum that forces me to question that assumption. From an above average television show comes the following situation:

Two lovers with a mutli-year relationship, one very sick and in need of a kidney, the other owning a compatible kidney. Lover A has been intending to sever the relationship but has yet to inform Lover B; Lover B has heard rumor of the impending split but has not forced the issue.

There is tremendous risk to Lover B as death on the operating table is a distinct possibility. Evidently, removing portions of kidneys is of significantly greater risk than removing warts from one’s fingers. Yet there is also significant risk to Lover A; without a replacement kidney, Lover A will die within 6 hours.

Lover A elects to not tell Lover B of the intent to break off the relationship as Lover A does not wish to discourage Lover B’s donation of the kidney material. After all, Lover A wants to live.

Lover B elects to donatekidney material because Lover B does not want the split to happen; Lover B believes Lover A will not be able to leave once saved by Lover B’s selfless donation of kidney material.

Which of the two lovers is the least despicable?

All us morally upright folk know that both are wrong. But, we have this tendency to want to scale these things, make one worse than the other, like on a scale of one to two; which is ‘one’ and which is ‘two’?

Have been vacillating in my conclusion all night long. Thanks a lot, House!

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-19 09:49:20


Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Learning About War

Do we remember everything we read? Evidently I do not. A thorough review of memory this morning dredges up the certainty that in my 8th year of education I checked from the classroom library a book about World War II. Since all the books in this library had been donated by someone at some time or other - I had attempted to donate my copy of the original Superman story, not the comic book but the novelization of the story but that is anothertale for another time - I assume the board of censors had approved the sentiment of such a tome as appropriate for my still maturing psyche.

The book, I remember, told the story of soldiers, not generals or admirals or captains, but soldiers. Surprisingly, I remember the book named the soldiers it discussed, something no longer common as we seem to have developed a more litigious respect forthe privacy of the soldier and his or her family. I remember reading that book cover to cover lapping up the insight into the human condition the author provided. I remember coming away from the book admiring the author’s style so much that I went looking for more of his stuff and found another book in the public library that was equally informative although it had little to do with war. My memory and Amazon.com are no help with this title although it may have been Home Country.

My memory includes one specific story from that second book, perhaps because it was so horrifying, but lost to me are all the other specific stories. All I have left is a feeling of admiration for the men and women the author portrayed and for the author himself, who had the with and the wisdom to tell their stories.

He did not write fiction; he did write of the human condition and he taught me as well as anyone ever has.

I do remember that his book led me to Bill Mauldin’s cartoons and the two men are now inseparable in my mind. Having attended a war of my own, I know that what they wrote was honest and that it prepared me better than anything else I ever read.

His name was Ernie Pyle; the book was Brave Men, and today is the anniversary of Mr. Pyle’s death by enemy fire in the Pacific War.

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-18 08:09:48


Monday, April 17, 2006
Stones

Why is it that I did not know the power of stones until today? Why didn’t my elementary school teachers point me towards this important part of the natural world? Think how much easier those early dances would have been if I had worn the proper stone. Even as an adult, if I had known about this stuff, I’d wear a Tiger’s Eye whenever I write, even such things as this blog.

Check this out: according to my crib sheet__

Emerald: Wear this stone to ensure security in love, to stimulate universal insight and open-mindedness.

Turquoise: Wear this stone to achieve a protective self-love when you are feeling drained by worrisome people.

The gemstone for a Taurus is an emerald. Would you not naturally assume that the traits of the stone would be the traits of the person born under the sign? So, a Taurus ought to “enjoy security in love, stimulated universal insight and open-mindedness.

The gemstone for a Capricorn is turquoise. Using the same rationale, a Capricorn goes around needing protection from worrisome people.

After 38 years of cohabitation, the Lady Who Shares Her Life With Me resembles her birthstone’s powers but I certainly do not measure up to my birthstone. Ah, me!

Here’s a thought: the next time I submit my novel for publication I’ll wear an aventurine; they have the power to conjure up an extra measure of luck in my favor. Doe anyone know what aventurine looks like?

Posted by Dan Bieger 2006-04-17 15:52:38


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