Fandango’s Provocative Question (#45)

Fandango’s provocative question ends up as three questions. They are:

1. Are there limits to human creativity?

2. Is it possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed?

3. Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?

His inspiration appears to have been biblical from Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.

In his first question, I want to change creativity to achievement. But that’s just me. I have three answers to that question. They are yes, no, and I don’t know. Yes, because there must be limits, but I can’t tell you what they are. No because in my lifetime, I have seen so much done by humans, achievement seems limitless. I don’t know because the question is theoretical and fenced by definitions and terminology.

For the second question I have to say it is not possible for humans to create something from nothing (I deal with this all the time regarding the origin of the universe). In fact, I’m not sure nothing is even possible. We may discover something we did not know existed, but that is not creating it. I love reading about creative hacks for common household items (or figuring out some myself). Is a new way of using something common not creative? Vaccines are a creative way to use the human body’s natural immune system to combat disease. But we did not create it. Discovery, yes.

In the third question I again object to the word creativity. Rearranging and building are creative endeavors. Discovering new ways of using anything is what has been done. In fact, I find the way the question is posed to be creatively demeaning of the human spirit.

As far as the claim nothing new under the sun goes, for Solomon there may not have been. But Earth is not all that is under the sun, right? Who knows what else may be discovered away from our planet and how that may be achieved by humans?

Look both ways for answers but mind the eternal gaps.

Poetry: The Young Turks: Wisdom of Frogs and Toads

When I ran with the dogs,
with the whippets and hounds, but mostly
with many young mongrels,

Confident advice flowed with barking
ignorance as Young Turk wisdom without
benefit of time or trial.

All things were defined by toads little wiser
or experienced than were we pups, with
foibles and foolishness all their own.

Success and failure were measured by the ignorance
of prediction rather than outcome, by dreams
over reality, by desires above experience.

Dead war dog stories try telling us
that neither happiness nor success
bother to dress up in frogskins.

Shine your light when you look both ways.
Mind and mine deeply gaps of the past
filled with learned experience.

Sammi’s Weekend Prompt #126: Haven

Unable to sleep, I wrote two poems.

***

With no refuge, unrequited love
without heavenly haven,
without healing, without beginning
or end. When a kiss is not a kiss,
when one love is lost in lonely
pain, unable to mend.

***

how can we ever be happy
alone in this depressing darkness
void of all meaningful life
enduring these threats from a determined death
never knowing how or when, it will all end?

***

Look both ways, the yin and the yang.
Mind the gap hiding good news and bad.

Be a Stranger to Death: Know his Work

A first funeral for me was in our church. I was too young and didn’t know him. But I cried—it was so sad. Others did too. My family all asked me why I cried. A man I didn’t know had died. They took me to his funeral, and I cried because I felt so sad. Why did they ask me why? It was a funeral. I saw others cry. But I felt sad for his friends and family, and for him. My family seemed to be telling me that I should not cry or feel sad. They were telling me how I should feel.

It was my first taste of ultimate reality and sadness at a level I had not yet known. Six decades later I still recall their questions and the implication that I should not be sad because some man had died. And since I did not know him, I should not care about his death.

They knew him. But none of my family cried. I was confused by their lack of sadness. How could they not feel it? I didn’t wonder then why we went to the funeral, but I do now.

I should not feel emotion or act out my feelings if I do. I did not understand why others didn’t feel as I did. Too young, but already being told not to feel too deeply—to not be a sensitive man boy (later a man). Stoicism was and is associated with strength and manliness. Strong silence.

Years later I attended an emotional funeral for two young children of a workmate (auto accident). Later, another workmate criticised the people who cried at that funeral. I wonder more about former than the latter. How could he not cry and why criticize those who did?

Now, I am sometimes spoken of as a sensitive man by some; as one who reflects sensitivity back upon people. They say so because they read my writings. Not because of how I behave.

But not always. I suffer fools poorly and bullies with quite limited tolerance. I am sensitive to violence toward others, but I can do what it takes to be just and fair.

I cannot ask why they tried to teach me not to cry, or not to feel, or to be not sensitive about those who died. And they cannot answer. I doubt any would understand why. I went to their funerals and I cried because they had died and I loved them.

I cried when each of them died. Nobody asked me why. But I still hid my tears. I cried when I was alone. They had taught me well, but they never changed me. Show them only the face they wish to see. Be the strong, stoic, liar.

I remain an emotional little boy society calls sensitive (or weak or worse). They, in their curiously socialized hearts and minds will never understand me—nor will I, them.

Why cry? Must you ask?

Look both ways and deeply into the abyss of human emotions.
Mind the gaps but be consistent. Be yourself.

Fandango’s Provacative Question (FPQ) #35

Fandango’s Question: Do you believe public figures (e.g., politicians, celebrities, athletes, authors) — or anyone, actually — should be judged by today’s standards for their words or actions from decades earlier? Why or why not?

In the Summertime was written by Ray Dorset, of the group Mungo Jerry, in 1970. Some of the lyrics can be questioned for time and morals, but also for culture and interpretation. The song also says, Life’s for living yeah, that’s our philosophy, which I like. A few other questionable verses make the song neither sexist nor racist, in my view. Dorset is a Brit, about four months my senior, and an active Freemason thrice married with six kids and some grands. He wrote the song in ten minutes. (For what it’s worth.)

The more I think about this good person/bad person in light of the times topic, the more it gets wrapped in the philosophical tentacles of my own confusing need for a balanced, fair, and just (maybe perfect) world. Do I have any right or business judging anyone? What shall I make of people like Jefferson Davis? He was wrong as hell in my book, but not in his. He remains a hero to many.

I mentioned this kind of issue in a recent blog where I discussed the artist Jonas Gerard. Comments indicated that we can separate people’s behavior from their art, but in Gerard’s case, there is a petition to remove his art from city property. And it’s not decades old.

Can we separate the good from the bad, or does a tarnished reputation make all the good suddenly bad? Do I declare a song such as Dorset’s or Baby It’s Cold Outside to be evil because of someone’s PC interpretation? Do I get to declare someone’s art, writing, or music null and void after I learn of their human condition, religion, or political views? It happens a lot.

Charles Lindbergh fell from grace following a pro-Nazi Germany speech. A sample of many more: Cosby, O.J., Armstrong, Burr, Nixon, Haggard, Dixie Chicks, and (oops) another one bites the dust. Yesterday, I was reading about Philip Larkin and how his past may have tarnished his work. Does it? Should it?

I like the book/story about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because it reminds me that we all have a dark side: that Jekyll was a good man, but Hyde was not, yet they were entities of the same person.

The answer to Fandango’s question is yes; but I’m sorry to say, also no. Yes, because by today’s standards (whatever those are culturally, interpretatively, or historically) are what we use to judge people today (not that we should, but we do). However, can we manage to form an opinion within the context of times past or some other mitigating circumstance?

Looking back on my life, I’m grateful that no nearby microphones were switched on when I said stupid shit; that no tapes or cameras were rolling when I did equally dumb stuff. While I don’t care or worry much about being judged, I prefer my lowest and worst moments be seen for what they were—not my standard, whatever that is or was.

I like learning that past heroes had weaknesses; dark sides mixed in with talent, wisdom, and intelligence. I have no time for idealistic nonsense. Right is right and wrong is wrong, but there are hundreds of grayish shades between. I’m not religious, but approve the idiom let he who is without sin cast the first stone. BTW, the song also advocates drinking and driving, or it seems to. It shouldn’t. So what?

Look both ways.
Beware not to place heroes too high on a pillar, nor allow your imperfect self
the hypocritical luxury of being the Judge, Jury, Executioner for others;
as so many fools before us have done.
Closely mind the gaps that contain closeted skeletons and dark secrets.

***

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