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Liquid Crystal

Does objectivity imply a world without moral values? Tufts of grass feather the dusty, fractured slope the scant flora suggesting there have been no major landslides in the last few weeks. Higher. "Rohtang" means pile of dead bodies in Tibetan. What is "evil"? Silly question・lt;/p>

I'd moved away from the technopagans, spiritualists and nihilists at the party to focus on my game of trying to view the totality of reality with complete awareness and sensitivity. My egocentric curiosity about "absolute truth" may be impossible to satisfy. Perhaps the human brain is not capable of knowing more than the tiniest fraction of the information which constitutes the universe and the best we can do is choose information which helps us. I'd been nursing a heretic (an infidel excommunicated from the Church of Reason) only days before gently advancing computational models of consciousness, proselytizing the virtues of the scientific method. Our eyes function something like a digital camera, I found myself insisting, with light-sensitive neurons instead of electronic sensors to measure wavelength and intensity. This information is relayed to the CPU or brain where it is processed and compiled into a picture. Tiny pixels may appear smooth and the realtively small time intervals between changes on the screen can give the illusion of continuity. The frequency with which a screen is refreshed and the resolution of the image are functions of the processing power of the hard and software. Machines will have a much more accurate perspective on reality than humans in the very near future.

All these avatarsclaiming knowledge of the divine totality are just fooling themselves? The level of awareness in even the best human mind is limited by the coarse physicalities of our corporeal nature. There is no truth to what our spiritual, cultural and intellectual leaders have been saying for centuries. Or perhaps they were right and the consensually conditioned illusion of the separability of phenomena, which has allowed the development of science and personality, has blinded us to the transcendent wholism with which the world may also be viewed.

The rocky, larger-than-life model of "Pick-up-sticks" shifted in chaotic harmony, slicing away the earth beneath my feet. I'd been playing with pieces of the slate earlier, listening to the cool clink of the stony razors. The track merges silently into dust. Sliding several hundred meters below me, sheer slate sporadically tinkles its way into the valley below. The ever-present possibility of death and injury strides jauntily into the spotlight of my conscious thought. I sit down to avoid falling. I'm in Dharamshala where many of the residents of the beautiful mountains are Tibetan refugees. If there's a landslide I can be sure that all those smiling faces in maroon robes would do their best to save my little white ass. Remaining stationary and thinking clearly seem to be my best options at this point in the spacetime continuum. The impasse with the Chinese government on Tibet and the NATO action in Yugoslavia have me thinking about appropriate responses to violent, irrational (?) political regimes. Good and evil governments?

Hmmm・ohn Locke has suggested that individual freedom of choice is essential in a healthy society and that the role of the ideal government should be to ensure self-determination for its citizens by enforcing its will only to prevent acts which bring harm to members of the community. He makes one exception to this recommendation: as children should be guided and disciplined by their parents, so to should societies which are in their infancy developmentally be directed by the wisdom of educated leaders. Some rural areas of China, India and northern Vietnam paint a picture of a Maoist agrarian utopia in my experience - clean rivers, healthy children, green fields populated by the stoic laborers who have often encouraged communism as an alternative to the monopolies of pseudo-feudalistic landlords. The question of the Chinese government's right to rule in Tibet, however, has largely been decided by international law and public opinion. There are currently thousands of Tibetans in Chinese jails (but, hey, most prisoners in the world have simply offended the mores of the society which they inhabit). The government's interference in the religious affairs of the community and the detention and expulsion of monks and nuns who support independence certainly work aggressively against Tibetan self-determination. But "rightness" is so often determined by social conditioning and the tyranny of the majority. China believes that Tibetan culture has been poisoned by religion and would benefit from a more scientific approach to existence. "There is no idea so ridiculous that it can't be inculcated in a child through repitition from a young age." I can't remember who said it・Aldous Huxley? Does a military response merely perpetuate a very old cycle of violence where cultures clash leaving history to be "written by the victors"? Perhaps. The best example of non-violent resistance we have in the world today seems to have produced little change in Tibet. Tibetan's love of their culture may lead them into a waiting game with the Chinese administration, the outcome of which is determined by the Party 's policy makers view of the advantages and disadvantages of retaining the territory and its inhabitants.

With China's nuclear weapons perched on the highest plateau in the world, it seems unlikely that change will come quickly.

So here I am・ost in a slate quarry. 360 degrees of the proverbial tabula rasa for me to project my values and expectations onto. Is it my place to have an opinion? I certainly don't have access to all the facts, yet free-will has been thrust upon me. Should I struggle in the direction which I believe is right and chance a slip which drags life into senseless, endless darkness? Should I stare blankly at the clean slate around me and allow my aversion to illusions to reduce my body to the dust of inactivity from which it was animated?

Maybe illusions aren't so bad, after all.

A whistle・ team of donkeys zig zag their way through the moonlight. They seem to know what's going on and, ah, I see it now - trampled dust reflecting the light more calmly than its shattered surroundings. Follow that ass!!! This is the nature of my ignorance; the absense of awareness which shapes my personality. The omniscient Christ chose to suffer for acts which he defined as evil. Do I have the right to choose my values with a Shakesperian "Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so"? One way or another I can't help but influence the four-dimensional mosaic of atoms which make up the material world. One way or another・

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