12.20.2005

it's all connected

philosophical jottings, sprung from the nyc transit workers' strike

the first transit workers' strike in 25 years has brought public transportation in nyc to a halt. the city stands to lose upwards of, maybe more than, 400 million dollars a day as a result. even here in buffalo, my current place of employment (T-minus 4 days, and counting) is feeling the effects of the strike, as our headquarters are in nyc. the big apple aside, there are countless other cities in this country and around the world that also stand to lose money on a daily basis.

how important is the strike? is it more important than my wife and i having to suddenly replace a car? is it less important than hurricane katrina? would it be more important than a transit-workers' strike in, say, dayton, ohio?

could there be another davinci?

the information age has brought the entire world to the fingertips of anyone with a computer and a modem. "it's a smaller world," they say, "and it's shrinking more all the time." not true. period.

we live in what i like to call the "that's stupid" era. to paraphrase my mortal enemy, david hume, my self is no more than a bundle of perceptions. clearly, an extension of his (correct) assertion is that the number of perceptions that comprises a given bundle is inherently limited. one bundle can only perceive so much. the world at one's fingertips? no, the fraction of the world one is able to perceive, with a lifetime as the longest possible timeline for adding to the bundle. davinci was a genius, yes, but he was able invent entire fields of study because he was also first. could there ever again be, in the person of one man, the unquestionable leader in not one field of study, but several? so deep are the fields now that the answer must be no. we are forced to be selective; we are each limited not only by the finite number of perceptions we are able to accumulate, but also by the number of available perceptions. if i am given only a single bundle, that number is functionally infinite.

further, what other option does a bundle have than to create a selective version of reality to call his own? how, then, to select? we would all like to think that we select on the basis of importance, but such a scale is not, in practice, universal. the lowest common deominator for inclusion in the selective reality i inhabit becomes that which matters to me. everything else is, as you have certainly guessed, "stupid."

the implication is that, although some people are more narrow-sighted than others, we each have a set of blinders over our perceptive faculties simply by existing. awareness of the situation is a step toward broadening, and that is all we can hope for; no remedy exists.

in conclusion: aborigines probably won't give a second thought to the strike--or a first, for that matter. and no, there will never be--there can never be--another davinci.

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