The Luckiest

QEpark38, originally uploaded by katiemuffett.

I’ve been reading a wonderful book, The Quantum and the Lotus. I began reading it years ago but went through a bit of a fiction spell, and have always intended to come back.

The text is a dialogue between “an astrophysicist who was born a Buddhist” and “a Western scientist who became a Buddhist monk”. This strikes the absolute perfect balance of questioning for me personally, which may be why I kept it literally on the shelf for so long – I thought I needed to be tested, challenged, put through the mill with all of my reading. As this blog isn’t really a book review, I will simply strongly recommend the book to anyone.

I was looking this shot of the dainty red suspended among green and shade, and contemplated the discussion of probability, causality, and anthropic perspective. Is it relatively improbable that the lone berry should have survived among the leaves? Or is it my arrogance to assign some sort of poetic significance to it simply because I happen to have seen it?

I’ve decided to leave the existence of trees and berries alone, and consider myself -as always – lucky to have the image in my possession.

I don’t get many things right the first time/
In fact, I am told that a lot/
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls/
Brought me here.

Image Soundtrack: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds

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5 Responses to The Luckiest

  1. Brad Reid says:

    What I’ve learned (just like in Esquirer Magazine):

    We are ultimately undivinable entities making their way through an ultimately undivinable and absolutely immense cosmos, the exact mechanism of which need not bear any likeness to capabilities of our knowing. The better part of our basic toolkit of concepts is a holdover from the toolkit of even less complex intellects. Objects are perceived by us in manners such that they might potentially be useful to us. That berry, such that we perceive a berry at all — such that there is a berry at all — is a part of the human world. The world is a part us and we are a part of the world. This is all too convoluted for a simple blog comment.

    Any part of anything I have to say should be treated as highly suspect.

  2. katiemuffett says:

    That’s an interesting perspective on the anthropic principle Brad – and it certainly deflates more aerated opinions that usually accompany this concept, imo. What we celebrate about ourselves and humanity’s achievements is after all only celebratory on a very minor scale.

    But I like the note of optimism at the end, about the berry. It is wonderful that something which may only be a random collection of subatomic mush can be perceived through equally mushy creatures into a ‘something’. Perhaps not reason to celebrate, but certainly to marvel.

    Esquire?? Do they publish many philosophical articles? 🙂

  3. Brad Reid says:

    Esquire has a section where they feature a page of aphorisms from various celebrities. I used to like Esquire more. Its measures of maturity and manhood used to seem to be without blemish, but the last couple times I’ve read it it seems as though they’ve been modelling themselves a little after the regular knucklehead lines of men’s magazines that started cropping up about ten years ago.

    In my thinking I don’t even know if the berry in its true — I suppose the word would be transcendental (ineffable?) — existence is even subatomic mush. The last word has not yet been said on the true substance of material things. My point would be that just as the berry is a useful construct of our working-day imaginations, so too are the atoms out of which the physicists would tell us it is constructed. We are all born into the world expecting the objects around us to be divided into discrete quantities — this is one of our inate prejudices –and the physicists work to construct a vision in which that principle is demonstrated to the nth degree. Who doesn’t see the world as divided into discrete quantities? Well, perhaps there are catatonic schizophrenics staring at the wall who have failed to see it.

    In one of my creative fantasies I actually do sit down to write a small book of my basic philosophical notions.

    I suspect you’re much better read than I am, Katie. I’m not at all in the know regarding various opinions of anything. My intellect is basically plagiaristic. A long time ago I figured out that I wasn’t actually smart enough to remember both a principle and who came up with it. For the most, if a principle appeals to me, I take it as my own and move on. If a principle doesn’t fit in with my extended view, then I drop it to make room for the next one.

    Funny thing, running on like this in your comments section. No need to post it you don’t want to. Consider it an email, perhaps.

    I like the way you write, Katie, with your mind seeming to envelop whatever you’re considering. I enjoy the company of people who are smarter than me. Nice blog!

    I’m about to quote my comment of December 8 back at Flickr. Look for my “Brief Statement of Metaphysical Conviction.”



  4. katiemuffett says:

    I think I’ve given a much smarter impression of myself than is genuine!!

    I am definitely of your opinion that, however well-read or not, it is good for the mind, heart, soul (as you like them) to keep asking questions. And particularly not to be intimidated about it – how will those of us outside ivory towers develop our personal philosophies if we don’t weigh in our ideas? And maybe poach a few along the way?

    Looking at the para on perceptions of discrete quantities makes me want to suggest Bruce’s blog to you – it’s thought-provoking and sometimes weird in very good ways:

    “If a principle doesn’t fit in with my extended view, then I drop it to make room for the next one.”

    I don’t feel at all well-read Brad, but I’d guess from what I have studied that this is how good academics work! 🙂 There are folks who stockpile information and there are others who are creative with what they find. A *very* rare few like the legendary Stephen Fry have both abilities perfectly.

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