Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ category

Joey Swoll Speaks on What Matters

July 2, 2014

This dude should have a PhD in straight f’en awesomeness. Indeed! @TheJoeySwoll on some philosophical type shizznit.

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The Strongest Weakness

August 13, 2013

Weakness Leads to Strength
Would you describe yourself as a strong person? Many of us prefer to identify with our strengths, but it is easy to forget that in order to be strong, at times we must be weak. Strengths and weaknesses can be both mental and physical. Most of us were raised to think that showing weakness is unacceptable. Maybe it is sometimes? The brawniness of our mind is interlaced with stimulation from the world around us which further complicates things. An interdisciplinary look at how scholars, philosophers, psychologists, and writers have studied strength and weakness is somewhat enlightening. Voltaire once said “we are all full of weakness and errors,” so when is weakness acceptable?

Depending on the source and subsequently the discipline, the definition of weakness varies. Wikipedia says that weakness is a medical “symptom” or condition which affects the muscles or body. It can be argued that mental weakness can also physically manifest or settle in our bodies. Have you ever been “weak in the knees” because of strong emotions? That idiom is a perfect example. I became interested in reading the Wikipedia explanation of “true weakness vs. perceived weakness,” but quickly moved on when I realized that this was still focused on medical conditions. I am interested in learning about how weakness assists or afflicts us. This is one reason interdisciplinary studies become so important to me.

The dictionary says weakness is a noun. A thing called weakness is defined as “a defect” and “self-indulgent fondness.” That definition is closer to my views on weakness. But is weakness really a defect? Do we need to be weak sometimes? If weakness causes more harm than good, it needs to be addressed. Still, to some extent, weakness lets us feel and experience good and bad things. They will either make us happy, or break us in the end. The word weak as an adjective in the dictionary says the weak have “little physical strength.” They are “lacking force” or are “morally feeble.” Here we can see the word enveloping the mental and the physical characteristics of the human condition. Ernest Hemingway once said that “the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
weight-lifting-brain

In 2012, Alfred R. Mele a professor with the Florida State University, Department of Philosophy published Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will. Mele is a very interesting man who is looking at the connection between the mind and body in new ways. He believes that “people backslide,” and “freely do things they believe it would be best on the whole not to do.” In his new book, he attempts to explain why this happens using traditional and experimental philosophical methods. It is important to study and then attempt to explain the “weakness of will.” In order to have strength and be strong, we first need the will to do so. Mele believes that exercises of self-control are key to understanding weakness of will.

Professor Mele is also the director of a contemporary project called the Big Questions in Free Will Project. These scholarly studies are intriguing and break down the aged silos of research collaborations. It is possible that free will is indeed the key to understanding strength and weakness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) says that the philosophical term free will is a “course of action.” According to SEP, philosophers have come to believe that “the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility.” The encyclopedia partners the “rational deliberation” of free will with desires and values. It is possible to acquire strength and weakness from both.
Strong and Weak

I like to think that I’m a strong person. I have many strengths, still at times I feel plagued by weakness. Sometimes I do forget that in order to be strong, at times I must be weak. I need weakness just as much as I need strength. Weakness is not a defect. It is a means by which we can improve our mental and physical strength. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “our strength grows out of our weaknesses.” Weakness can drive us to our knees. It can make us feel like we are not in control. It can change us in ways that we may never understand. Emerson was right. When we feel weak, we must remember that one day we will feel strong again.

To Conquer the Mind of a Stoic

August 6, 2013

I have been learning about stoics and stoicism in an attempt to enlighten myself. Well, more so about people who are stoic, as stoicism centers on an educational system founded in Athens. In order to understand complex human relationships, we must not only study ourselves, we must study others.

Since I tend to be a very open person, sometimes I don’t understand people who aren’t like me. I may be the exact opposite of one with stoic traits. Stoics believe that the philosophy of moral and intelligent beings is conveyed through ethical behavior and not words.

Key words for the teachings of stoicism are: self-control; fortitude; ethics; morals; virtue; strength; and will. A stoical person chooses to endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. This has been described as being free from passion, and may be seen as being unmoved by joy or grief.

Some of the more interesting things I read were published in “The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.” He said that “it is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” I do totally agree with that. Our mind is our most powerful weapon!

When is it ok to be conquered? Humans need to be weak sometimes. How does one conquer the mind of a stoic when the book is sealed shut? If we lock our mind to all, can we be happy? When should we be strong? When is it ok and acceptable to be weak?

Seneca also said that “one of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” This seems to go against the traits of a stoic? To be understood, parts of us must be symbolically and even physically conquered. But yes… that quote does reflect the essence of true friendship.

I am still learning about stoics. I do have much to learn. They are not like me. I believe in connection at the deepest level. Without real, intimate, and heartfelt connection how can we live? How can we be touched and touch others? Maybe I’ll never understand human books which intend to remain closed?

The most intelligent things that Seneca said was “if you wish to be loved, love.” He said that “true happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.” Human relationships are complex. Learning is always the best step in successfully connecting with others.

Da Vinci and His Insatiable Need

July 28, 2013

~Infrared image of Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ~ the Salvator Mundi~ National Gallery~

I can still remember the day that I stood in front of the Mona Lisa. It was 1993 and I had never seen the work of a master artist up close. It was amazing to think that I stood in front of a work created by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 1500s. One of the best museums I have ever visited was the Musée du Louvre in Paris. I was just a girl then and I would appreciate the history so much more today. At the time, I couldn’t even understand why I couldn’t use a flash to take a photograph of Da Vinci’s iconic image?

Da Vinci was such an amazing person. Aside from his works of art he was very inquisitive and loved to learn about how things functioned. Of course this fascination inspired his works, but his interests seemed to go further than basic curiosity. I admire his studies of the human body. His intricate pieces appear to jump off of the paper. They are alive in some strange way.

This afternoon I watched a fabulous special on KNME. It was titled “Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure.” In the documentary, Fiona Bruce “uncovers the story of Leonardo Da Vinci.” He was “considered to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived” and has been called an “enigmatic genius.” He was very enigmatic. I believe that much of the mystery surrounding this man was lost when he passed away.

In the documentary hosted by Fiona she traveled to New York to see a “lost” painting. The painting is believed to be an original Da Vinci piece. Conservation specialists revealed techniques used to examine the painting and it was very interesting. With infrared imaging they were able to look under layers of paint to reveal draft designs. This is something a copycat would not have done and is considered a primary reason this painting is genuine.

I knew some things about Leonardo, but there were a few interesting things I did not know. I learned that at 13 years old, he moved to Florence as an apprentice to a master artist. At 13? Wow! It was awesome to learn that “he kept a notebook always dangling from his belt.” His mind moved so fast that “he became notorious for not finishing his works.” I couldn’t believe that by the age of 20 he became an official part of the Florentine Painters! Makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away.

My favorite part of the documentary discussed how fascinated Da Vinci was with the human body. He mapped the geometry of the human body. The artist was so intrigued by the architecture of the physique that he practiced dissection in local hospitals. This helped him understand and chart the human body to see how it functioned. He compared the inner workings of the body to nature (i.e. the lungs to a branches of a tree or to a river). This sounds somewhat along the lines of the Doctrine of Signatures with regard to symbolism and shapes.

This doctrine is philosophical and is tied to herbs, plants and their medicinal uses. Though the Signatura Rerum or Signature of All Things was not published until 1621, the concepts were studied by several people in 16th century Europe. Studies along these lines went back even further to the Romans and Greeks. Da Vinci was so in tune with symbolism which I find awesome! This leads me to believe that this doctrine was of interest to him? Most scientists write off the Doctrine of Signatures, but I believe.

It was so depressing to see paintings like the huge image of the Last Supper in a state of deterioration. Accoring to Fiona’s research, it is about 20 percent of what it use to be. She called the painting “a ghost” of what it once was. This is apparently because Da Vinci chose to paint with oil paints on dry plaster, which is not how a fresco should be painted.

I learned so much from this documentary. It would be a dream come true for me to visit an archive holding the original sketch books of this master artist. It is so amazing how the human mind can continuously seek knowledge, yet never satiate the need for or hunger for more. Sometimes I feel rather “Da Vinci” in that respect.

~Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ- the Salvator Mundi exhibited at the National Gallery~

Define and Attain Happiness

June 26, 2013
~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

Have you ever thought about what makes you really happy? As humans, we need to be happy sometimes. We deserve to feel genuine happiness, but what is happiness? Is it a smile? A thought? Laughter? Can it be bottled or made? Defined? Extracted? Invented? Analyzed? These are tough questions to answer.

New Webster’s Dictionary defines happiness as a “feeling of joy or pleasure.” According to the dictionary, the word happiness is a noun. So in that case, is happiness a thing? If happiness is a thing, maybe we can just buy some? I think not. How does the word “feeling” come into play in that definition? The word feeling is a verb tied to an emotional state. That kind of washes up the noun right?

Another online source says “happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That seems like a better, still not perfect definition. Can we even define the word happiness? Maybe it’s something we just can’t explain. Maybe it is something we can only feel?

For years psychologists, biologists, philosophers, and religious groups have attempted to understand what allows us to attain happiness. Maybe this is why we have such an ambiguous definition and understanding of happiness? In my humble opinion, the study of happiness should actually be cross-discipline. I believe happiness comes from the mind, heart and spirit. There should be a Doctrine of Happiness which incorporates all three.

For about 15 years, “positive psychologists” have been striving to understand happiness. Positive psychologists believe happiness is fundamentally important, and this contemporary branch of psychology has made efforts to understand the science of happiness. The psychological theory behind positive psychology includes things like pleasure, strength and talents. These are then tied to positive experiences and relationships. These psychologists also recognize that there are two sides to every coin with regard to the human condition. Maybe harnessing negative thoughts and emotions in useful ways works best? For instance, I write what I see as some my best poetry when I am upset.

So what makes me happy? Things that feed or replenish my mind, heart, and spirit make me happy. Intellectual, intimate and spiritual connection to humans who care to connect with me brings me happiness. I like to give of myself and help others. Seeing my son and those I care about smile because of my actions makes me happy. Making others feel good, brings me feelings of warmth, purpose, and happiness.

Maybe you should think about what makes you really happy? Each of us deserves and needs to be happy. It is possible that all the dissertations in the world will never pinpoint a definition of happiness. It does include smiling, pleasure and good thoughts. If it could be extracted and bottled, I would be rich. What it comes down to is simple. Happiness is a choice. When it rains, we can be riddled with misery or we can choose to be happy even in the face of adversity. We must choose to take control and understand that we all deserve to be happy.

Heart of Bolts

June 3, 2013
Heart of Bolts

~~~~~Heart of Bolts~~~~~
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan
The word “bolt” can mean many things. It can be symbolic of: an actual thunderbolt; electricity; the power of Zeus and the heavens; swiftness and speed; a deadbolt or other mechanism that can be locked; rain; light and darkness; or a mechanical part of a firearm which can block the back-end of the chamber as the propellant burns and makes way for a new shell or cartridge.

Life is the fire that burns and the
sun that gives light. Life is the wind
and the rain and the thunder in the sky.
Life is matter and is earth, what is and
what is not, and what’s beyond is in Eternity.
~~~Lucius Annaeus Seneca~~~

 

Coincidentally, the quote I have selected to accompany my newest digital composite is that of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. I have been gathering notes and white papers on stoicism for a couple of weeks, but didn’t come across Seneca until tonight. I find the philosophy of Stoics intriguing. I think I would consider myself the exact opposite when it comes to these Hellenistic teachings. I felt that a “Heart of Bolts” conveys the symbolism of both a Stoic and a (non) Stoic if you will? Maybe emotional versus unemotional, though the philosophy is deeper than that. I will never be morally and/or intellectually perfect. In my mind, no human will be and I actually find that beautiful. Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher who was born in Spain (4 BC) and died in Italy (65 AD). I found it curious that I selected the quote of a Stoic tonight. I usually find a quote I like and then look into the individual. I do not interpret this quote as being devoid of emotion. Do you? Well he was also a dramatist! Maybe I still have much to learn?

Eye 2 Eye

January 29, 2013

Eye 2 Eye by Felicia Lujan
Why does the eye see a thing
more clearly in dreams than
the imagination when awake?”

~~~Leonardo da Vinci

When Leonardo da Vinci contemplated the clarity of his visions he must have wished he was always asleep. Surely the genius of the Italian Renaissance was afforded the luxury of unrestricted creativity in his dreams. There he could perceive alternate realities. There he could understand complexity. Why? I believe that Leonardo was able to open his third eye of knowledge through his dreams. In a spiritual dream state his ideas were clear.

Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye with others. It can be difficult to understand when seeing eye to eye is so desired. In college I took many traditional courses in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Today I was reminded of the three eyes of knowledge, as well as the information that they are able to capture and convey. If we take a look at the eyes of knowledge, each level, each function, we can get a better understanding of why people disconnect or lose eye contact if you will.

In the thirteenth-century there was a religious philosopher named St. Bonaventure. By all accounts, Bonaventure was a great man. He was respected by the church and became one of our greatest philosophers. The Western mystic developed the concept of “three eyes.” The “eyes” were the three methods that men and women utilized to attain knowledge. In his book Breviloquium, St. Bonaventure discusses knowledge and wisdom at length.

The first eye is associated with physical phenomena. The second eye with mental phenomena, and the third eye with spiritual phenomena. Numerous individuals within the humanities believe that we do not only see with our eyes. The larger part of that which we are able to see derives from the mind’s eye. Philosophers, psychologists, and theologists also believe that many may never see with the third eye of knowledge. I myself feel that I see regularly with the Eye of Reason, which is also called the mind’s eye.

1st Eye… Eye of Flesh is the eye we use to see the outside world. Here we actually employ physical sight to see material objects and gain knowledge from those objects.

2nd Eye… Eye of Reason or the mind’s eye is used to attain knowledge associated with the flesh. We also use this eye to analyze abstract thoughts and ideas. This eye includes, but transcends the Eye of Flesh so it is a combination of physical and intellectual knowledge. This has also been referred to as intellectual sight.

3rd Eye… Eye of Contemplation or the Eye of the Spirit is only open when we become fully illuminated with spiritual insight. Most people still have this eye closed. It is said that only true mystics see with this eye.

It is hard to understand why seeing eye to eye in a world of knowledge is difficult. Maybe it is simply that your eye is closed while my eye is open or vice versa? Maybe like Leonardo da Vinci, we should rely on our dreams? Maybe doing so would allow us to open each eye and perceive alternate realities or even reconnect? Why? Because in our dreams, ideas are clear.

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake said “if the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” Apparently Blake also contemplated translucent eye lids.

Laura Cereta: My Renaissance Hero

December 15, 2012

An Italian named Laura Cereta was an intellectual woman ahead of her time. She is my hero because she pushed it to the limit. Cereta insisted on having intellectual conversations with both men and women during a time when women we not supposed to do so.

She was a writer who lived from 1469–1499, and was a well known humanist and feminist of the Renaissance Period. How sad that she died younger than I. I would love to locate the archive where her original writings can be found- if not, I guess a secondary source in the form of a book would do. Most of her writing was in the form of personal letters to scholarly men. There must be a private collection of her original works somewhere?

The subject of her letters, many of which she published on her own in a book included: enlightenment; war; death; fate; and the oppression of married women. Check out this awesome letter I found online. Of course~ an archivist would need to verify the accuracy of this internet source.
•••••••••••••••••••••
Laura Cereta’s “Letter to Bibulus Sempronius”

You [Bibulus] brashly and publicly not merely wonder but indeed lament that I am said to possess as fine a mind as nature ever bestowed upon the most learned man. You seem to think so learned a woman has scarcely before been seen in the world. You are wrong …. for you have ceased to be a living man, but become animated stone; having rejected the studies which make men wise, you rot in torpid leisure. The explanation is clear: women have been able by nature to be exceptional, but have chosen lesser goals. For some women are concerned with parting their hair correctly, adorning themselves with lovely dresses, … or standing at mirrors to smear their lovely faces. But those in whom a deeper integrity yearns for virtue, restrain from the start their youthful souls, reflect on higher things, harden the body with sobriety and trials, and curb their tongues, open their ears, compose their thoughts in wakeful hours, their minds in contemplation to letters bonded to righteousness. For knowledge is not given as a gift, but [is gained] with diligence. Nature has generously lavished its gifts upon all people, opening to all the doors of choice through which reason sends envoys to the will …. You pretend that I alone am admirable because of the good fortune of my intellect. But I, compared to other women who have won splendid renown, am but a little mousling.

Smoke and Mirrors: My First Lucid Dream

April 20, 2012

This morning it was very hard for me to get out of bed. The second I opened my eyes, I could feel an indescribable ache in my head. I couldn’t understand why I felt so horrible? In my moment of contemplation, I realized that I was smoking in my dream. I am not a smoker, but yet I was blowing smoke like my first name was Puff (yes the Magic Dragon). But it was just a dream? Wasn’t it? I laid around for awhile. I tossed, I turned, I debated calling in to work because I literally felt sick. When I finally got out of bed, I rushed over to the bottle that I felt would give me some hope for the day. I popped an 800 mg Ibuprofen, washed it down with some caffeine, and then convinced myself that the headache would disappear. By the time I darted out the door for the day, my headache was gone. I thought about it all morning… I mean how strange is it to have a headache from smoking in my dreams? I did dream about many other things, but I knew the smoke caused my head to ache. As the day progressed, I wondered… Did I ever really have a headache at all? Or was it all in my head? No pun intended! I know in my waking life any kind of smoke often causes me to get real headaches, but can it cause a headache in the dream world as well, or did last night mark my first concrete proof of a mind-body connection?

Let Me Dream- Bookplate of Anita Herriman Vedder (ca 1870-1923)- Item No. LC-DIG-ppmsca-15533- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The more the day went on, the more I believed that my experience was purely metapsychological. Now I know that I was likely still asleep when I believed I awoke with a headache. I know that I had the first lucid dream that I can actually recall. It was a lucid dream with something that is called a false awakening. Metapsychology is basically the psychological connection between mind and body. Many say that metapsychology is “beyond what can be studied,” but am I not studying it right now? “Meta” is derived from the Greek word for transcendence and/or going beyond something. For example… Have you ever had a dream where you were doing anything physical and then really woke up with soar muscles? Apparently I am not the only person who has experienced this type of phenomenon. There are some extreme cases out there. Some people wake up with scratches, bruises, and other serious injuries. Just look for yourself, and follow some of the subject threads available online. Since I am a woman who prefers well rounded research, I prefer to look at four things to make my own conclusion. Those four things are: my personal experience; the experiences of everyday people; scholarly approaches; and scientific studies.

In lucid dreaming, the person dreaming can control what they do in a dream. The dreams are often realistic, but are still fluid enough to be influenced by the dreamer. Maybe because I love writing and being creative, I am able to control some of the data which infiltrates my mind (to some degree)? If I was indeed having my first identifiable lucid dream, then it is highly likely that I experienced a false awakening from that dream. If this is the case then it makes total sense that I was in my own room when I opened my eyes and discovered I had a headache. During a false awakening, the dreamer almost always thinks they are awake because they are in the exact place where they originally drifted off to sleep. Some scholars would say that if I had a lucid dream last night, it would make sense that I was not even awake when I thought I woke up! I probably actually woke up just seconds before I actually got out of bed.

A Study in butter the dreaming Iolanthe- butter sculpture of sleeping woman by Caroline S. Brooks (c1878)- Item No. LC-USZ62-93747- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

In 2007, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association published a white paper by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target. The paper examined Theory and Psychoanalytic Thought, and was titled The Rooting of the Mind in the Body: New Links Between Attachment. Fonagy and Target studied “the relationship between psychoanalysis and attachment theory” and they described that relationship as “complex.” The scholars researched the “whole idea of the mind comprehensively expressing itself exclusively through bodily referents,” and state that this expression derives from Sigmund Freud’s studies of the “ego” and “body-ego.” According to the paper, “any separation between cognition and physical manifestations at the level of brain, bodily sensations, or actions is an artifact of the cognitivists’ computer metaphor, which implies that cognitive processes can be independent of the body, just as software exists more or less independent of hardware. In general, it is the link of brain and body that generates mind and consciousness. Emotion, mood, and motivation act in concert with cognition, primed by evolution to ensure the survival of the person as a whole.”

Dr. Donald DeGracia published his study in 1997 out of Wayne State University titled Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep. In his study, Dr. DeGracia attempts “to conceptualize conscious sleep experiences.” His paradigm research confirms that “the most common conscious sleep experience is dreaming.” The paper goes on to say that “dreams are a form of conscious awareness during sleep, and that “when we dream, we are consciously aware of visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and emotional content, as well as thought (both cognitive and metacognitive) and to lesser extents smells, taste and pain.” Hum?? Very interesting. This PhD has discovered that “in a lucid dream, the brain undergoes some kind of change that gives the dreamer metacognitive access to their waking memories. Hence, it may be that a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer can compare their present condition with their waking life. It is this ability to compare the dream experience to waking experience that really appears to distinguish lucid dreams from nonlucid dreams.”

The dream of Pilate's wife by Alphonse Francois (c1879)- Item No. LC-DIG-pga-01296- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

So here is my conclusion… I am 99.9% sure that I had my first recognizable lucid dream. Amazing… It seems that I may have been dreaming I had a headache because I was tapping into latent memories of my experiences with things that cause my head to ache! I had a headache because my mind caused my body to believe it should. I would even go as far to say that muscle memory could have been at work here. I can thank the long gone love of my life, Sigmund Freud for a few things today. Some of those things include: his beautifully sexy brain; the ability of his once lively mind to spark my contemporary mind; his amazing breakthroughs in 1895 relative to the philosophical study of the relationship between the body and the mind; and his still unmatched 1899 study on the Interpretation of Dreams.

Sources:

Theory and Psychoanalytic Thought,
The Rooting of the Mind in the Body:
New Links Between Attachment (2007)
Peter Fonagy and Mary Target
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

http://apa.sagepub.com

Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep (1997)
Donald J. DeGracia, PhD
Wayne State University
www.med.wayne.edu/degracialab/metaphysics/paradigms.pdf


400 Year Old Archive: Secrets of the Vatican

January 31, 2012

Clip taken from a section of a document in the Trial of Galileo (1633). The document is in the Vatican's Secret Archive- Clip taken from Vatican’s Secret Archives turn 400 years old- http://www.romereports.com/

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Today is the birthday of the Vatican’s Secret Archive, which dates back to January 31, 1612. The archive is full of amazing documents. Despite the colorful comments that can be found tied to the fact that the archive remains “secret,” this archive houses some of the most fascinating documents in the world. Documents in the archive have been made available with the pre-approval of authorities (of course) to academics and historians over the years. My guess would be that preference is given to scholars whom convey a positive image of the church. There are more than 50 miles of shelves in this archive. The records contained in the archives span 12 centuries of history. As an archivist who loves history, science, and the stars, my favorite documents housed in the archive would likely be those associated with the Trial of Galileo. He was a bit of a thorn in the side of the Roman Inquisition, and details of his 1633 trial are among the “secrets” this archive keeps. Galileo Galilei battled with the Catholic Church until his death in 1642. The church did not like him mainly because he was against the Aristotelian theory of the universe, and he favored astronomy and the Copernican theory. Artists have rendered interpretations (in various media) of his inquisition for centuries. It is a very interesting case! When you get a chance, check out this video footage about the anniversary of the archive at http://youtu.be/8naSnSysKmg.


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Clip taken from a document is in the Vatican's Secret Archive- Clip taken from Vatican’s Secret Archives turn 400 years old- http://www.romereports.com/

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*****Coat of Arms of the Holy See***** Is this a cryptogram? Things that come to mind... There are two keys- number 11? Why is one key gold and the other silver? The keys would open seperate doors, yet they are bound together by the handle and in the center (with a cross). I see the number 3 repeated 4 times in the crown. That equals 12. There were 12 Apostles. There were also several 12th-century Roman Catholic Church Councils. 12 is a symbol of cosmic order. "Europe's Apostasy and Idolatry The Flag: Do we see an 'ecclesiastical Babylon' in Europe? The European Union (EU) flag comprises 12 golden stars on a blue background. Officially it is claimed that the circle of 12 stars represents 'solidarity and harmony between the peoples of Europe', the number 12 denoting 'perfection, completeness and unity' (in the Bible, 12 denotes 'governmental perfection')."

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Vatican’s Secret Archives turn 400 years old

Originally published online on 1.31.2012 by http://www.romereports.com/

Within the walls of Vatican City is stored one of the most important treasures in the world, the Vatican’s Secret Archives.

Only a limited number of people can access documents kept here by the Catholic Church. It’s free to gain access, but only academics and historians are allowed and they must request authorization from the Vatican.

In 1810, Napoleon Bonaparte took over 3,000 documents to Paris. After his fall from power, the files over time made their way back to the Vatican. Although during these transfers, many valuable documents were lost, some of which were from the fifth century.

Today, 400 years after its creation, the archive has over 50 miles of shelving, filled with books, papal bulls, decrees and encyclicals that cover twelve centuries of history. Among its corridors, one can find documents like the parchment of acquittal of Clement V to the Templars, from August of the year 1308, and details from the trial of Galileo, as well as the request for a marriage annulment by England’s King Henry VIII.

To celebrate it’s 400th anniversary, the exhibition “Lux in Arcana” has been created. From March to September, visitors to Rome can find 100 documents from the Vatican’s Secret Archives on display in the Capitoline Museums.

Vatican’s Secret Archives turn 400 years old

http://www.romereports.com/palio/vatican%27s-secret-archives-turns-400-years-old-english-5959.html

The ID, Dreams, and Inspiration: Stay Creative

December 16, 2011

Inspiration has been defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.”  It has also been defined as “an experience of feeling your soul lifted,” and “being in a state of mind where everything is possible, everything is clear, and we feel at one with the universe.” Synonyms for inspiration include: encouragement, illumination, stimulation, creativity, enthusiasm, and motivation. Well now we know what the term means, now how do we actually get inspired? The answer is different for every person. If I had to create my own definition for the word, it would be something like- that which moves or touches you beyond comprehension instilling provocative thoughts in the process.

We draw inspiration from life and death, emotions, goals, and from our dreams. In order to be creative, we have to be inspired. Nothing inspires me more than other interesting, intellectual and creative people. I find my inspiration in other artists, musicians, writers, or simply friends and family members. I am inspired by beauty, by love, by pain, by happiness, and by my curiosity of the unknown. Some are inspired at the break of dawn, when the first rays of the day pierce through the darkness. Maybe this is when they take their first inspirational steps toward creativity. This is when they start to solve puzzles, in turn, solving “the world’s problems.” Caffeine also gives the vast majority of us that extra oomph to jolt us into a meaningful thought process.

When I write, I use ear plugs to block everything out. I will concentrate on my abstract ideas, imagine them, jot them down, and then flesh them out. In 2009, Amy Schroeder completed a dissertation titled Typewriters and Cooking Smells for her PhD in Philosophy. She talked about how “imagination, at its supreme instantiation, is less about the will than about a surrender to willingness; it is about the readiness to be pervaded by mystery and then the further readiness to let that mystery out into the world.” When I paint, I light a candle, put on classical or love music, and then put down what’s on my mind. I stop and think, and then I stop and think some more. When I workout, I get my game face by drawing inspiration from edgy music with hard hitting beats (and yes working out requires both inspiration and creativity).

So if you think about it, what inspires you or ignites your imagination? How do you get to that creative place? The place where you can scale mountains, run for miles, soar above the trees, and adventure to new lands or lawless territory? Many times I get inspired, develop ideas, and problem solve in my dreams. Paul C. Ray published Sir Herbert Read and English Surrealism in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,(Vol.24, No.3, Spring 1966) which helped me make sense of this. In his white paper, Ray talks about automatism (automatic writing) and surrealism. He says “automation is the foundation stone of surrealism: it bears to surrealism the same relation as the dream to Freud’s psychoanalysis: they are both gateways to the unconscious. Just as the dream expresses, in however disguised form, the contents of the unconscious, so must automatic writing. Automatism differs from the dream only in its nature, which is verbal rather than visual.” Ray’s paper also says that “the artist, in his moments of inspiration, reaches into the deepest levels of the mind, and at that level we suppose the mind to be collective in its representations, and it is because the artist can give visible shape to these invisible fantasms that he has the power to move us deeply.” Maybe inspiration comes from the hidden recesses of the mind? Inspiration likely derives from the ID.

When I was a little girl in elementary school, I had a teacher who had the best mind jogging ideas. For the life of me, I can’t remember the teacher, however she called a particular class exercise “squiggle art.” I didn’t recall doing this art as a child until my mind danced in a conversation with my friend along these lines yesterday. So today I searched online to see what I would discover. I couldn’t believe that I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I could remember the exact name of the creative exercise?? I found actual lesson plans online for squiggle art. The “instructional goals” of this art exercise are intended to help students “demonstrate flexible thinking,” to help them “feel more comfortable with their creativity,” and to “continue to hone their brainstorming skills.” In my sleep last night, I tapped into a dormant memory of this exercise. In my dream, there I sat- as a child with long pony tails again. I was looking at a white piece of paper with a squiggle on it, and contemplating what my picture would become. Squiggle art is basically taking a piece of paper and marking a squiggle on that paper. Using that squiggle on the paper, the artist will imagine, and then complete the picture. This exercise must have worked for me. It has made a deep impression in the archive of my mind, and has obviously inspired creativity.  

I recently had the author of the blog Thoughts on Theatre http://thoughtsontheatre.wordpress.com/ hit the like button on one of my posts. I had to take the time to check out the unknown author’s site since there was some focus on creativity.  The post 25 Ways to Be Unsuccessful Creatively (and in life) had great pointers. The author also had a couple of great quotes- one by Thomas Edison said “many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” This author also asks his or her readers why they should create? Inspiration allows us to create, and as that author has said, creativity allows us to “communicate in a method stronger than words – in a language that has no boundaries.” So— my friends, continue to seek inspiration and stay creative.

I Love Dr. Mandelbrot’s Brain: The Intersection of Math, Art, and Creativeness

August 24, 2011


Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot was one of the most amazing men to ever walk this earth. This man was the legend behind fractal geometry. Some called fractals his “private obsession,” before he named this branch of kaleidoscopic mathematics. Many dismissed his work as useless and abstract. Never giving up when people told him his ideas were not good enough, with a single formula, he changed the world. He once said “for much of my life there was no place where the things I wanted to investigate were of interest to anyone.” The doctor was active in the world of computing (starting in the 50s), and he was an IBM mathematician ahead of his time. Tonight I watched a rerun of a 2008 special on Mandelbrot, which reminded me of how much I loved this man’s brain. No really! The special runs on NOVA, and the title is Hunting the Hidden Dimension. This explores the origins of fractal mathematics/geometry. It is coincidental that people call it a “new branch” of math in the world of pop culture. This is ironic, because indeed Mandelbrot’s ideas were applied to the formation of “branches” on trees and in fact nature, among many other things.

Mandelbrot was born in Warsaw in 1924, and was educated in Paris. Maybe living in Paris inspired his learning and the creative process. Some of the areas which utilize what is called the Mandelbrot Set include, but are not limited to: nature; stars and space; computer applications; medical research; fashion design; special effects in the movie industry; flight; the stock market and finance; and human life. The list goes on, and on, and on, and on- OMG! That last sentence in itself was part of the Mandelbrot Set. The set confirms that everything (literally everything) is a series of hierarchies and repetitions. If you do a Google Scholars search for Mandelbrot, you will witness the infinite amount of research done by, as well as about this exceptional man. In using the scholars search, I located a 1984 article originally published in Omni Magazine. The article was titled Profile of Benoit B. Mandelbrot by Monte Davis, and was a great read. I learned so much about him, and his thought process in the interview transcript.

Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot


In the 1984 interview with Monte Davis, Mandelbrot said “This is too bad if you want to understand nature, because many of her faces possess structures on a very wide range of scales. Consider the bark of a tree. On the usual human scale, it looks rough. If it is magnified, it still looks rough. The larger scale crinkles are themselves crinkled on a smaller scale, and there is a whole hierarchy of subcrinkles and sub-subcrinkles, right down to something close to the molecular level. Or consider a stretch of coastline. What appears on a map to be a smooth, curving bay does not look smooth close up. Even at high magnification a coastline’s shape is crinkly and irregular. Mountain landscapes, the craters on the moon, the fine structure of Saturn’s rings, the folded surface of the lung: all possess structure on a great many scales. It follows that the traditional smooth curves and surfaces of science proved inadequate as models of these features of nature.”

Later, the doctor was asked what “the role of computer graphics” was in his “investigation of fractals.” His response was “the theory of fractals had started in my mind before I knew it was to become a theory, and well before I thought of computer graphics. However, without graphics, the theory would have moved very slowly or not at all. But it happened in 1974 that my friends located a computer graphics device that we could train to draw artificial mountains. Again, the device was very cumbersome, but when the shapes came out, what a revelation! The pictures were poor: black and white and drawn on coarse grids. Shadowing was not feasible. Even so, there was an overwhelming feeling that what we had drawn was right. Even though the pictures looked like old fashioned worn photographs, they looked like mountains. Having seen them, no one no one could say that I was barking up the wrong tree. Their eyes convinced them. Since then, of course, the equipment improved and the pictures by IBM‘s Richard Voss are stunning. It seems that we win all the computer graphics contests. Before, people would run a mile from my papers, but they could not run from my pictures. In the beginning, I used the graphics purely for this reason – to illustrate my ideas and to force people to accept them. But I soon realized that this method enabled me to go further and integrate into a single theory a collection of things that otherwise would have seemed unrelated. Now, very complex geometric shapes could be compared with one another and with reality. The equations behind the shapes were abstract, but the shapes themselves looked alive.”

Mandelbrot Set (YeSssss... this is math LoL not art)

When a question posed to Mandelbrot by Davis was “why do you claim that parts of the human body are fractal?” The doctor explained how “the mammalian lung, which is an extremely complicated structure of tubes, air sacs, and blood vessels would take an enormous amount of information to specify its development in detail. But the significant instructions are very short. During the development of the fetus, a simple budding process is repeated over and over, twenty-three times. The packing of soft tissue within a confined volume creates the final structure. If the diameters of the bronchi were decreasing any faster as one moves away from the nose, the lung would be loosely packed – a bad design. If the diameters of the bronchi were decreasing more slowly, the growing buds would be too closely packed and would interfere with one another.”

In closing the interview with Davis, (when asked to further define his discipline) Mandelbrot asked “so what should I be called? Some people do call me an experimental philosopher, because I am a philosopher at heart. There is no question about this but in one sense, I’m a mathematician-without-hyphen, neither a puremathematician nor applied-mathematician, nor a mathematical-physicist. And I am one of the few people plying this trade today. For Who’s Who, I put down MATHEMATICIAN AND SCIENTIST or even MATHEMATICIAN, SCIENTIST, SCHOLAR, AND ARTIST, which upsets editors, who prefer one word.”

You gotta love this man!!!! Mandelbrot passed away in 2010, and the world lost a brilliant man. Who will upset the editors now?

For more on the NOVA Special…
Hunting the Hidden Dimension
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/fractals/

Other Great Quotations by Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot

“Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to.”
*****Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1977)

“Why is geometry often described as ‘cold’ and ‘dry?’ One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline, or a tree. Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line… Nature exhibits not simply a higher degree but an altogether different level of complexity.”
*****Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1977)

“Science would be ruined if (like sports) it were to put competition above everything else, and if it were to clarify the rules of competition by withdrawing entirely into narrowly defined specialties. The rare scholars who are nomads-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.”
*****Dr. Benoit Mandelbrot, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1991)

Connectedness: The Mortal Weakness of Captain America

August 14, 2011

I can hear the shallow critics chastising Captain America. It is funny how a large part of the target audience for that movie in all likelihood didn’t get it. Taking things at face value is a mistake in my opinion, but maybe I am over analytical (to deep for my own good), and already six feet under! As the only woman in my household (other than a female Siamese cat and a female Teacup Chihuahua), I was out voted on our last trip to the movies. I wanted to see the new Harry Potter, but my son insisted I tag along to go see the first avenger in action. I’ll admit that I was not thrilled to buy that ticket, but I was pleasantly surprised. I love it when directors, writers, and Hollywood glams, do an excellent job conveying cliché ideas. You know- the cliché movie scripts with heroes, villains and lovely women? But in this one, I saw something more. Captain America: The First Avenger was a refreshing story about connectedness.

Captain America

The story line starts with the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1942. The Nazi were interested in stealing a blue tesseract (prism cube), for the special powers it housed. America is prompted to create a super-soldier for enhanced defense against Red Skull, Adolf Hitler’s ruthless agent. Chris Evans, plays the role of Captain America. He starts off as Steve Rogers, a 90 pound asthmatic from Brooklyn. Though he is dedicated to becoming a solider, he is the last person that the military wants to accept into service (WWII). He is continually denied for health reasons. He is also shunned by shallow women, who prefer the company of his handsome, and well built friend (already in the military). He does not appear to care. As a patriot, he is connected to his goal. At last a scientist, Dr. Abraham Erskine (played by Stanley Tucci) swoops him up at a conference on the future of technology. The scientist listens in on the potential soldier, because he sees something far more than physical in him. Because of Dr. Erskine, Rogers is accepted into a special program with the military. The program is looking to create a new kind of soldier using the injection treatment of an extraordinary serum.

It is during his training to become a super-soldier that Rogers meets, and is enthralled by Agent Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell). She is beautifully captivating in the movie with red lips, sharp shooting, perfect hair and perfect heart. Within two specific instances, Agent Carter falls in love with the mind and spirit of a man. In one scene, Colonel Chester Phillips (played by Tommy Lee Jones) tells the soldiers to fight to get a flag off a flagpole, and then offers a reward of traveling with Agent Carter. Colonel Phillips and Agent Carter watch all men but one combat to take the flag. The colonel laughs and says that not one person had successfully taken that flag down in 17 years. The soldiers start to walk away. Just then, Rogers walks right up to the pole (as his colonel yells for him to fall back) to pull a metal pin out of the bottom. To the amazement of all, the pole drops to the floor and he gets the flag, then gets into the truck with Agent Carter. Witnessing his smarts, Agent Carter is impressed.

Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) in Captain America- 2011

The second scene that takes Agent Carter’s breath away is when he displays relentless courage. Colonel Phillips begins to doubt Dr. Erskine with regard to selecting Rogers to become the super-soldier, and decides to test the soldiers. He tells Agent Carter that nice people don’t win wars. Colonel Phillips reaches for a grenade, says “this is what wins wars,” and then throws the grenade near the soldiers. All of the stereotypically brave men run and hide, while Rogers yells “run” and cradles the bomb to shield others from the explosion. The patriotically courageous act, again wins him major points with the woman. In his series about the Ancient Greeks, Dr. Boeree (a noted researcher) addresses this idea. Plato (Aristocles) was a philosophy student of the infamous Socrates. Plato believed that the phenomenal world strove to be “ideal, perfect, and complete.” If that is the case than it is true that ideals are a force which we draw motivation from. Plato believed that our souls were drawn to good, and the ideal.

Of course you know how the rest of the story goes. Captain America does get the girl. He gets the girl much sooner than most watching that movie would think. Captain America actually gets the girl as Steve Rogers, in his unclouded form. Dr. Boeree also distinguished three levels of pleasure in his studies on the Ancient Greeks. The first two were physical pleasure (sexual connections), and esthetic/sensuous pleasure (admiring beauty, marital connections). Plato believed the highest level of pleasure was attained through the pleasures of the mind. That given, it makes sense that the agent and the captain experienced a unique connectedness. In his paper, Dr. Boeree says “the example would be platonic love, intellectual love for another person unsullied by physical involvement.” Sadly, the two never have the chance to become lovers.

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell)

 

Steve Rogers is transformed into Captain America, and then he is whisked away to promote war bonds in Italy (1943). It turned out the reason that Dr. Erskine selected Rogers, was because the serum would “enhance” whatever was already within a person. If you were bad, it made you worse, and if you were good, it made you better. Captain America ends up having to crash his plane into the Arctic at the end of the movie. He talks to Agent Carter over the radio while together they descend. They discuss “waiting for the right person,” as they realize it will be the last time they will ever communicate. He makes sure to set up a date to take the agent out to dance, though they both know it will never happen. He misses that date after waking up in New York from a 70 year long deep sleep, looking not a day older than he remembers. He notes that he missed his date.

Agent Carter fell for Captain America before he was a captain. In her eyes, he was simply Steve Rogers. This intelligent being was capable of capturing her psyche, making her heartbeats skip, and was able to halt an evil empire with realness. At first glance, one could not unveil the mortal weakness of Captain America.

***************************************************** 

Captain America: The First Avenger (Movie Trailer)

http://captainamerica.marvel.com/

*****************************************************

Another interesting look at the idea of mind-body connection:

Mind, Body Connection with Deepak Chopra – CBS News Video

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6406365n

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Invisibility and The Mask of Medusa…

August 2, 2011

Camouflage is the blending of
the animal into the pattern,
the environment; it is a search
for invisibility. . . .With men too,
invisibility is an ever recurring desire.”

Roger Caillois, The Mask of Medusa (1964)

(Cover tagline: “A brilliant and suggestive study of the relationship and contrast between insect and man as suggested by mimicry, disguise, and camouflage in nature.”) Caillois was an intellectual Frenchman specializing in social and philosophical issues…

Cover for the 1964 French to English translation of The Mask of Medusa by Roger Caillois Roger Caillois, an intellectual Frenchman specializing in social and philosophical issues..


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