Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I used to be quite the scraggle-head.
It may surprise some readers that this "winger nut-job" is Grateful Dead fan who has read a lot of (and still appreciates) Alan Watts.  I would imagine that I am in a minority of people who would call themselves anything like a "fan" of his that has the political outlook that I have.  He's very popular with the new-agey TM mystical spirutual crowd, most of whom you will find decidedly on the collectivist side of the political spectrum.

I recently contributed to the making of a documentary on the man, and as one of my "perks" I got for donating I got an audio CD .... a compilation of exerpts from lectures and radio programs.  And something he said in one of them really stuck out at me.

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusions. By thoughts, I mean specifically, chatter in the skull. Perpetual and compulsive repetition of words of reckoning and calculating. I'm not saying that thinking is "bad". Like everything else it's useful in moderation. A good servant, but a bad master. And all so-called civilized peoples have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive, because through excessive thinking they have lost touch with reality. That's to say, we confuse signs - words, numbers, symbols, and ideas -- with the real world. with reality.
I have experience with people, a couple of them fairly close to me, who have fallen into a life where they have become out of touch with life the way most people experience it and have dived in to the realm of over-thinking to find meaning or to shore up what they want to find meaningful ... in their lives.  And the saying "idle hands are the devil's workshop" came to mind. 

It got me to thinking of Things I Know #3  "Models are not reality. Models are expressions of belief about reality".  This is really what Alan Watts is driving at in the above, and I probably understand it as well as I do thanks to Watts and Pirsig.  This is as true in atmospheric science as it is in economics, and manifests itself in anthropogenic global warming studies as well as in Keyensian economics.

Which got me to thinking about the intellectual left in general.  People who have done nothing but crack books and have discussions in coffee houses and attend events and seminars all their lives who somehow have the answers to all of our problems with theories developed from layers of layers of theories -- which are themselves symbols, getting farther and farther removed from reality.  They deal with people in a very small circles because they are not forced to deal with people whose beliefs fall outside of their spheres of belief like those of us who have jobs do -- and can afford to shun anyone with ideas that challenge their own.  Which in turn gives them the [false] sense of relevance and certainty that they seek.

An idle, isolated mind with self-esteem issues ... There is something about having too much time on your hands combined with a hunger to prove to yourself that you matter that can lead to all kinds of mischief.
They say that the left side of the brain controls the right
They say that the right side has to work hard all night
Maybe I think too much for my own good
Some people say so
Other people say no no
The fact is You don't think
As much as you could
hmmm  -
Paul Simon

1 comment:

Cylarz said...

In other words, it's good for people go outside and get some fresh air once in awhile.

Sitting around with like-minded people agreeing with each other, isn't even a prescription for intellectual growth, much less workable solutions to real-world problems.