Blog Archives

Technology: Presence & Time

So I’ve been pondering what to write for a next post.  I was looking at other posts with the daily prompt about use of phones which caught my attention.  They are useful, but they can also control you if you let them because they ring off the hook and people can nowadays text you like there’s no tomorrow.  Texts can be simple like “Dinner’s ready” from a family member to another family member in a different room, or about getting together.  They can be more complicated telling a story of something that recently happened, though that could also be a phone call instead of a text since longer messages aren’t as often sent by text as far as I can tell in my minimal text experience.  It depends though, sometimes that is the case and sometimes it is not.  Either way, technology can take you away from the present moment and into another space, for one reason or another.

This brings me to another pondering, as I’ve recently read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  Now The Time Traveller within the book travels hundreds of thousands of years into the future.  He views completely different worlds that are nothing like that where we currently reside.  The social hierarchy of creatures is vastly different, being that it seems humans have evolved into two different species somewhat, at least it appears that the Time Traveller interprets these two species as being derived from humans if I read it correctly.  Some might consider such a long way off in the future to be a daring feat for someone to take when trying out a time machine, but is it that big of a deal?  Would it be better to jump 5, 10 or maybe 50 years into the future to see where things have evolved to before jumping elsewhere?  Would it be most useful to see yourself in the future or past when traveling time, or seeing beyond yourself and to look at the world itself?  I’m not sure I have all these answers, but I think it would intrigue me more to see where the world and humanity goes than to see exactly where i end up or where I’ve been.  Some days my opinion might differ, but I’m living in the moment right now as I create this post.

What are your thoughts?

Denialism & Colonization

A concept that I first formally learned about through reading Michael Specter’s book Denialism is the idea of setting aside reality, to push forward with your own agenda, or avoid a reality which is perhaps less acceptable to ones self.  Specter tends to apply this concept to science and technology, where it relates to the medical field and drugs/medicine themselves.  He touches on such things as vaccines vs. autism, homeopathy and going organic compared to non-organic foods and the like, as well as the scientific study of drugs such as Vioxx and their results vs. the reality which companies and such looking to sell the drug were interested in seeing.  Somewhat of a political aspect of denialism is also shown in the book, particularly around AIDS/HIV and Africa.  I found it to be an intriguing book!  It has sparked some thoughts in my mind as to things I could write.  Therefore, I may write further about the book in another post if I see fit, but I thought applying the general concept to a trilogy written by Kim Stanley Robinson, the books Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars would be appropriate.

The Mars trilogy takes the human population from planet Earth and sees it colonize the planet Mars over a couple of centuries, starting around the 21st century.  It sees us through growing troubles on the planet earth, while mostly focusing on the development of things on the (initially) Red planet.  The main characters seen throughout the three books live on Mars and go through the normal issues which we see in our everyday life such as conflicts of various natures and relationships growing and conflicting.  The thing that interested me most was that they are also speaking of various perspectives; from political, scientific, economic, and religious/philosophical, among others that affect the overall outlook of the new Martian civilization.

As with probably just about anything, there is a form of denialism which takes place in the trilogy.  In fact, one could say that this denialism that comes to my mind at the moment, is what caused troubles on earth to worsen; if not begin.  It is that of corporations looking out for themselves with little or no thought of the environment, its plants, nor animals, nor its people which as a whole were ultimately responsible for creating them out of nothingness in the initial stages of industrialization.

Corporations, in the trilogy, become larger bodies called “transnationals” or “transnats” and they are less focused on a democratic way of operation and more on making bigger and bigger gains; the goal being to compete to see who might become the biggest and ultimately be able to control the interplanetary market.  There are buyouts of smaller companies in the process to become bigger and better.  They have their own intentions for development on Mars, along with all those perspectives coming from the initial 100 people who first arrived on the planet.  The transnats become metanats who want to take control of what goes on within the Mars civilization.  I remember that some of the discussion amongst the first 100 was around different concepts and was intrigued that Buddhist concepts were referred to in discussing the fate of the mars civilization that would be built.

A Buddhist outlook is much different from that of the corporate cultures in the novels.  It is one where living in harmony is of utmost importance to strive toward as opposed to focusing upon the ego and desire.  A Buddhist outlook or philosophy tends to shy away from sins such as gluttony and greed.  So there is a big contrast in the novel between what some of the first colonizers of Mars had in mind for the planet and what could potentially come to said planet depending on which voices reign in the end.  I don’t want to give away too much of the story line in this post, so as not to spoil things for potential readers as to what comes of either the Earth or of the planet Mars.

But there is also much focus in the book on scientific development and just how development of Mars should take place.  Some believe in the more natural approach whereby living off the land is best, others have thoughts around wanting to play around with the planet’s atmosphere and land in order to have the planet mimic that of Earth’s geography in a sense.  Both of these seem like they could make sense, but one is more or less playing God and looking to be in control, and the other is going with the flow of things.  Clearly, people do not have full control though, as in the Mars Trilogy, right from the get-go things happen that are not planned or anticipated at all.  Life is a mystery.  You never know how things will unfold.

People, Differences & The Twelve

Books that inspire the mind, that provoke thought about life and human nature tend to draw my attention.  Such is the case with The Twelve by William Gladstone, which holds important that long talked about date of December 21, 2012.  What happens on that date?  You’ll have to either wait until the reality of the day hits (which will happen before you know it) or read the book to find out where the story leads!  There are some mixed reviews of the book that I’ve seen through Amazon.com.  I don’t consider the book to be a thriller that’s full of action and excitement, but liked it for its thought-provoking nature, and its ability to keep my attention and follow along with the plot.  It also gives an interesting portrait of human nature to ponder.

One of the reasons I felt inclined to write about this book is because it raises the topic of differences in human beings, a topic that I ponder fairly frequently.  Max, the protagonist, runs into some interesting circumstances resulting from his post-secondary studies.  He is provoked to question whether he’s got mental health issues, or not after even his own parents appear to side with the doctor who sees Max.  There is some history of mental health issues in his family, so Max is provoked to question if he may actually have something wrong with him.

I’m reminded of a phrase my father often says, “If you believe it, it’s true.”  I feel that this can apply to what I’m hoping to get at through this post.  If you hear things from others about yourself enough, you might just start to question whether they are true!  You might start believing that if a number of people around you are saying something, that maybe it’s got some smidgen of truth to it.  This could provoke you to start to change things about yourself for others, or totally change who you are.

There’s no reason to change who you are or what you’re all about by any means.  I find that environmental changes can have a better psychological effect!  If you’re having difficulty where you are in your life, maybe it has something to do with the environment you’re surrounded by rather than anything else.  I don’t mean that it is best to run from things in life to make everything better, if it sounds that way, because I think that things happen to us so we can build the endurance to handle challenges that will make us stronger.

But we can also learn when enough is enough and we’ve gained what we can from the experience already.  Max seems to have known that certain individuals in his life have to be there for a reason so he endures his search for the twelve individuals.  He keeps their contact information so he is able to be in touch with them when necessary with the knowledge that these individuals have some significance.  I’ve subconsciously known this in the past and made changes to my environment, leading to feeling more at ease and ultimately having a bit of a more positive outlook on life.  It is only upon reflection that I discovered it in a conscious way.  There’s no need to necessarily conform, just to find your niche and make life work for you through that niche.

Max tends to move around now and then for various opportunities.  What others try to do to him never stops him, it only causes him to change gears a little bit and reconsider what he keeps to himself and what he allows of himself to be public.  Changing his environment enables him to see the world and all; but it also enables him to make important discoveries about life, and about himself.

The big thing about Max is his capacity to endure regardless of what anyone says about or does to him in his life.  He always finds ways to do what he wants regardless of anyone else.  Sometimes someone comes to his rescue if he’s in danger.  If something doesn’t work, he moves on to try a different angle to attain the same goal such as earning a living.  If he felt he had to be somewhere else to get what he wants to achieve, he’d go elsewhere!  That reminds me of another phrase my father also says, “Never, ever give up!”  And it’s true, regardless of mental or physical differences: if you keep trying you’ll find a way to get what you need or want in life.

You can either post thoughts, reflections, criticisms and the like below, or email magnus.wendler@gmail.com