Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 14th, 2008

Introspection of a middle-aged very confused male (Started in May 17, 2008)

Note:  this is a general framework of an ongoing project.  I will add many sub-chapters to keep my published sections within 1000 words.

Table of contents

Introduction

1. Habitat in 2004

2. Something about my grand parents’ origins

3. Something about my folks: My parent’s love affair

4. Something about our childhood, my brother Ghassan, sister Raymonde and I

5. Something about my primary and secondary schooling

6. Memory failures

7. My university period in Lebanon

8. My university years in the USA (first period from 1975 to 1979)

9. My stay in Lebanon from late 1979 to mid 1985

10. My second university period in the USA (1985-1991)

11. Something about the period after my PhD (1991-2000) in USA

12. My life since I returned to Lebanon in 2000

13. My profession (Industrial and Human Factors engineering)

14. “Why am I how I am?” (March 8, 2006)

Appendices:  Love stories

How it all started?

I formally started my introspection on May 17, 2008 after reading an Arabic book by Kanaan recounting his childhood and his father’s and I said “why not?” 

I went ahead and even interviewed dad during morning coffee setting for a couple of minutes on his early childhood. Actually most of my poems and, especially my file “songs for women”, were serious introspection and autobiographical in nature.

I inserted temporary chapters to facilitate the process of further additions and pasting of paragraphs.

Habitat in 2004

I felt that my days were monotonous enough for my activities to be concatenated  into a typical day. Remembering the dull events of the days, I realized that they are a little more complex and could withstand a few more typical varieties. 

These seemingly boring events were intrinsically tied to my extended close family, which is relatively restricted in one locality, mainly my folks’ building of three stories.  The concept of typically branched out.

These typical days meshed into several pretty loose realities of every day living. On the first floor live my parents and I, the second floor houses my married brother Ghassan, his wife Diane and his three grown up children Murielle, Pascal and Christoph (only Murielle is living with her folks, the guys are in universities in Canada), and the third floor crams my married sister Raymonde, her husband (a retired army General) Victor and their six kids (William, Joanna, Ashley (Phoebe), Cedric, Adrea, and Chelsea) spanning from age 11 to 29. 

Joanna is living in London for a PhD in graphic communication, Ashley has graduated in animation and has been working for two years now, Cedric is spending a year in Italy on a grant (he graduated in hotel management); William graduated in graphic design and refuses to work on his final architecture project to graduate in two majors.

The roof gather my sister’s grown up children who are supposedly doing time-consuming projects requiring two computers, a Macintosh and a IBM, a scanner, a printer, a sophisticated digital camera.  

All these tools and equipments have been updated with costly performing gadgets. William brought home a female dog that he named Misha. That was four years ago; William relocated to the basement two years ago and is planning to rent in Jounieh to be accessible to his clients by bike.

The ground floor is basically a depot for surplus furniture and one room converted to my private study, where I spend the best part of my days and evenings.  We used to have tenants for the ground floor most of the time until I arrived from the USA in 2000.

After I wrote the dozen typical days, I started the monthly summaries for my diaries…By the beginning of  the devastating July War of 2006 (Israel preemptive war), I embarked on the war diary, and I continued this practice after the war ended until my computer broke down.

Is religion still monopolizing our fears? What about technology? (December 14, 2008)

 By the time mankind got conscious of the ephemeral of life and that death is a certainty, religion and the notion of the sacred were created to cope with the consequences that resulted from that conscious fear, on the ground that otherwise, no security or peace could prevail within any organized society.

Religion might not have been invented right after we got conscious of our mortality, but necessarily when modern man realized his individuality and stopped producing mass hand tools for the tribe, and took special care for individual designs, specialty carved symbols on the tools, particular color combinations and drawing and painting that reflected feelings and awe toward the environment and the forces of nature.

Painting and sculpting and drawing symbols were the precursors for establishing language as a practical necessity, first verbally and then the written language. I believe that institutionalized religions grew after verbal communication was feasible, by means of languages to harangue communities against the other infidels. What we may discern is that cultural transformation is the byproduct of practical necessities.

                        Death is generally viewed as representing chaos and thus, life is to be a struggle to feed on death and restructuring a semblance of spiritual cohesion. Metaphysic, the precursor of religion, is but this longing to providing continuity between life and death so that our logical mind does not breakdown to smithereens, because sciences cannot provide definite and exact answers to everything.

Metaphysics must have been substantiated because many people experienced a few supernatural events and realized that what is being sensed is not the whole story.  Religion, as a conscious culture, utilized the metaphysical potentials in man to codify its system of beliefs and then codifying a system for daily behavior, rules, and regulations.

                        Unfortunately, what was necessary at a period was utilized necessarily to dominate other tribes that believed or adopted different totems or sacred rites.  This irreversible trend, that practical necessities generate cultures with necessary counter productive results to our evolution, is the foundation to our mental shortcomings to progress, ethically and morally.

                        Religion and science have the same roots in the conscious and, though they evolved with different methodologies, they adopted the same procedure for impacting on the mind:  First, they established consensus on a few premises; second, they struggled hard not to change their system of beliefs,  and third, they waited for a paradigm shift to transforming the traditional culture.  The revolution of Luther and Calvin against the concept of Papal infallibility left intact the core obscurantist culture, which views knowledge with suspicion, and specifically scientific knowledge, as the work of the devil.

In fact, Protestantism went as far as considering philosophy as compromising the human mind.

                        The fundamental revolution came when people realized that if the Pope is fallible,  religion is consequently fallible and the quest for answers to fill the void in knowledge was resurrected with sciences.  Hence, this frenzy in Europe, at about that period, to translating the Arabic manuscripts; the Arab scholars who had translated the Greek classical work and added much of their own.  The re-translation into Latin was the beginning of the Renaissance period in Europe.  Thus, the period of the Renaissance in Europe was a revolution against the failure of the Christian religion to satisfying the cultural transformation after the crusading campaigns and the affinity of the Arabic culture in Spain.

                        Most paradigm shifts could be classified as cultural transformations, but a few could be conceived as cultural evolution:  a qualitative jump in our knowledge of nature and man such as using symbols, verbal communications as a language, the written language, the concept that man and earth are not the center of the universe, that time is an intrinsic element of space such that no two events can be said to occur simultaneously, that man is not wholly master of his decisions, and that man is neither the crown of creation nor the peak of evolution.

                        Since nature does not provide a moral order to observe and emulate, then even all our power for abstraction cannot generate the concept of evil.  I believe that the notion of evil (read fear) is a culture inherited by osmosis to our subconscious by the uninterrupted religious culture that constituted the fundamental basis to organized communities through the millennia.  Sin is a concrete notion because it is associated with punishment and ostracism, but the notion of doing “good acts” remains relatively abstract and any remuneration is not immediate and not palpable.  That is why many religions tried to great extent to emphasize the reward of commendable actions in their teachings, but the institutions had to revert to admonitions and focus on the negative deeds because fear has a far more potent in effecting impact on the mind of the believers and the effects of fear are long-lasting.

                       The same process is taking place with technological breakthroughs.  While we experienced some of the benefits and the many harms of religion, we are at the beginning phase for experiencing the benefits and harms of technologies that we can invent and produce, but do not comprehend or grasp the consequences. We are traversing a dangerous period without adequate check and balance on the production of new inventions, and are tampering with human genome and agricultural and animal cloning: The consequences might be irreversible this time around on our survival.

                        We have created enough tools, processes, and know-how to invent all kind of products without the need of thorough theoretical foundations.  It is like a machine that invents new machines with what it already knows, and the vast array of tools it has in its arsenal so that theory is becoming an after thought because science requires a rational model.

Furthermore, experiments require abundance of time, financial and human resources that validation and testing on consequences to human health, safety and survival is dragging a long backlog that can never catch up with what is thrown in the market place.  For example, developed States have realized that a process for testing and validating the consequences of pharmaceutical products before marketing them was a must to safeguard health and safety of the consumers; but even that process was not adequate enough or ethically stringently applied when pharmaceutical new products were tested in the third world populations.

                        Technology is the new metaphysical ideology for defining youth:  You are as young as you can keep up with new updates.  How fast and how readily you can manipulate and use new gadgets is the main criterion for youthfulness, for keeping your membership in the new cult.  The technology cult means that you should have faith in what the market is providing you in updates and inventions, because ultimately, it is you who is testing, validating and selling the technology at your own risk.

Technology is basically a cultural revolution against abstract or theoretical works, whether in religion, metaphysics, or sciences, and its motto is “There is no good or evil in technology. Let us keep inventing and let the less expensive and quicker trial and error methods sort out what is beneficial to mankind.  Let youth, these flexible and adaptable mind, these spiritually and culturally ignorant spirits, and these energetically undaunted and bold souls, be our guinea pigs as they used to be historically”.   


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2008
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