philosophy

You are currently browsing the archive for the philosophy category.

In 1999, I started an online group and mailing-list for people living in trucks and busses; housetruckers. At that time, it was one of just two or three internet resources on the topic. It became a community nexus for like-minded folk, and a place where I felt I could really freely express my passions for the lifestyle.
Time, changes of lifestyle and circumstances, as well as some technical glitches effectively ended that experience for me around 2002, after around 800 written entries. Just lately, I’ve been trying to reconnect with some of those times, experiences, and people.
Here, for general consumption, I’ll be re-posting a few of those classic posts from “back in the day”; before this here blog was born.

Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999

Went camping this last weekend. Away from the town, away from the bus, away from… well, just away. Up on top of a mountain. Not much to see, really… winter is on the advance hereabouts, and snow’s falling, at least on mountaintops. Just camping in the clouds.
Everything I saw there was new to me. Little mountain trees, little mountain shrubs, little mountain flowers. In the snow. “Fragile! Stay on the Trail!” Hmmm… On the trail, or off the grass? Who knows? Nobody, really… That’s the point. Nobody knows the diversity crushed beneath a casual heel. Nothing in our imaginings can prepare us for the immensity of life contained in a single milky mountaintop dewdrop. Nothing.
Trip went well, actually. Just enjoyed it all, not a thought on the matter the whole while. Took a small-town restaurant washroom to get me to thinking. Nothing so peculiar about this particular washroom as to create a whole new line of thought out of thin air, just a little jog of the brain. There, everything in that greasy cubicle (the first proper plumbing in three days, ah, what a miracle that) had been seen by other eyes, and touched by the hand of man.
The cretinous hand that carved the words in the linoleum wall. The daily hand that replenished the paper. The calloused hand that sanded the molding along the baseboard, each nail set just so, once built with care and pride, now left for the kicks and scuffs of the constipated.
Each mark on the wall a testament to those come and gone before. Each mark, each touch, whether tender or careless, an icon of immortality. Everything you see in the world of man has been touched, has been seen. Behind every touch and glance is a person with a life and loves and stories to tell. Stories of glances made and touches received, each leaving an immortal mark upon the world.

“Indeed it is well said, in every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing.” -Carlyle

Look around. What has the eye the means of seeing? Do I see more than you, or less? There, on the washroom walls, and all around, are the traces of the hands of man. Up on the mountain, there was no such sign, just a pair of ruts across the alpine meadow.

In the bus (ah, the simple glorious bus), all that I see is marked by my touch. I have shaped the stories of the universe which I now inhabit. Nothing around me holds mystery. I am my home, and it is I. As my eye has means of seeing it…
I know the stories untold still clinging to the relics in my care. I know all the when and why and where of everything I own and am. As my eye has means of seeing it…
When I move beyond myself, and perhaps beyond this place, this bus, I will still know the days and shaping of the world in which I lived. The ragged wooden edges hidden beneath trim. The cryptic scrawls of rust and aging hidden beneath the paint. The lost spider’s nest dried behind the shelves. All those old bones hidden within my home. As my eye has means of seeing it…

But now is only the baseline beginning. There are stories yet to be created. Touches of others in my home. Touches to be treasured. Look upon my home and see… me! As I am my own creation…

And still, the mountaintop. Free from the touch of man. Can we mere creatures ever know that solitude? I don’t know. It is our lot to thrive upon the touches and glances, upon the immortal marks of our hands upon the earth. And as it is my lot, I try now to find my solitude not in a world free from man, but within a home of my own creation.

It’s interesting to hear myself from 10 years ago. It’s interesting to hear how I heard my favourite quotation back then, and compare it to how I hear it now.

I went to a job interview yesterday. This is still a fairly novel experience for me; I don’t suppose I’ve been to more than a half-dozen of these in my life. I applied for the job because my savings are getting low, and because I was curious; curious about the “real job” market, curious about what “they” pay, and curious about how I really felt about working for anyone else besides myself.
The interview went fine; I’m on the short-list, and expecting a call-back. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll take the job if its offered to me. Partly it’s because the job offers too many hours for too little pay. Partly it’s because of the reaction of the interviewers (considering me to be clearly over-qualified). Partly it’s because, if I turn this down, I’ll be starting over from zero once again.
There’s something delightful and liberating about having nothing. Being at zero makes it hard to hide from yourself. It’s a position in life that emphasizes possibility and potential over security and complacency. Sometimes nothing is the only thing that really lights a fire under my ass. I went to the Caribbean with nothing, and it worked out okay. I came back to the States with nothing, and it worked out well. I came to this town a little over a year ago with two bags and the clothes on my back, and now I’m marketable and equipped.
I don’t have payments to make, a mortgage to pay, kids to support, or any other expensive habits. My rent is very reasonable, my car is cheap, and I enjoy the support of a great partner, community, and adopted extended family. Generally, I work at the work I want to do, and work the hours I want to work. No, it’s not steady, but there’s nothing else in my life that requires that steady, reliable (low) paycheque.
So I’m staying at zero. I have skill, ability, and knowledge to market. I do not need to take whatever is available to me; I will create what others wish was available to them.
Perhaps I’ll be really truly broke in another month. There’s always the chance that I’ll lose everything. Again. I’m ready, I’ve been there before.
I know I’ll land on my feet no matter what.

real virtuality

So…. I’m on Twitter now. And, after months of resisting it and wondering what the fuss has been about, I’m now newly wondering… what the fuss is about. Facebook adequately fulfils my telefriendship requirements, and this (underutilized) blog takes care of any greater need for web-presence. So, why Twitter?

Mainly, I’ve been wanting to investigate how Twitter and Twitter-like services can extend the reach of things into the internet. “Things” as opposed to “people” or simply “information”. I recently watched an Esther Dyson video where she posited technology whereby objects in the physical world report upon their condition and location online. So far, the internet has served mainly as a depository and coarse manipulator of human-supplied information. Sometimes it has served as a manufacturer of information and meta-information. It is as if we have been slowly transforming the physical world into virtual information and storing it. With the emergence of social networks and massive user-generated content, we are increasingly transforming our cognitive selves into virtual copies as well.

I’ve been very interested in seeing how the virtual world can reach back out into the literal world. On the coarsest level, this might mean increased telepresence, telesensing, and telecontrol; just as telephonics has shrunk the world of communication, so too might some future technology shrink the literal world. Imagine beyond the telephone (which extends my speech and hearing across the globe) to some connection which extends not only the remainder of my senses, but my ability to manipulate that remote point. As it is, remote devices can autonomously generate digital facsimiles of themselves, which I can then virtually manipulate; I want to see a proliferation of technology that allows the global networks transmit literal physical information as well.
Here’s another analogy: At one point it was common to type a letter and mail it. Then came teletype, and a letter typed into one end of a wire was typed out at another end. Then came the fax machine, with the physical media refined further for transmission. Now, email, where the physical media is completely abandoned; the method of transmission has become the message entire. The increased proliferation of mobile devices has now removed the need for physically-fixed entry and exit points for transmitted media. However, it is now becoming increasingly complicated to produce physical output/interaction.

I continually consume information, and sometimes produce it. Much of this information represents a virtual copy of a remote experience, object, person, or process. While both science and science fiction have been looking towards “virtual reality”, I find myself seeking out a “real virtuality”, where my online self is able to physically interact with actual experiences, objects, people, and processes.

    “A writer publishes to be read; then hopes the readers are affected by the words, hopes their opinions are changed or strengthened or enlarged, or that readers are pushed to notice something they have not stopped to notice before. All my reporting life, I have thrown small pebbles into a very large pond, and have no way of knowing whether any pebble caused the slightest ripple. I don’t need to worry about that. My responsibility was the effort.” – Martha Gellhorn

« Older entries § Newer entries »