Of Fate

Why do we think that everything matters?

What do I mean there? Well, inasmuch as I think of the rotation of planets and where our lives end up, I cannot help thinking that there is a predestined version of it all somewhere. That certainly sounds like a possibility. But, if there is, then nothing we do actually matters — so why bother with anything because surely that decision has been foreseen and already accounted for so nothing we can do would be able to change it.

That results from two issues:

a) if anything we did were able to change what was already set in stone, then the variables would be changing too fast due to seven billion people constantly moving them around, and the “system of fate” would collapse on its own complexity

b) if things we did were not going to change anything because they had been accounted for in the plan, then literally the shortest of thoughts in our minds would have to have been recorded *before it happened* in some database for it to not affect the course of life

Why do I say the last thing I did? My own view is that if I tried to model life without accounting for absolutely all of the variables, the things I missed would mean that my model deviated almost immediately after the beginning due to the intrinsic complexity of what is happening. If not even the shortest of thoughts of every one of us seven billion (due to be nine, I hear) is recorded then that could cause a necessary change in the plan.

But then the very amount of changes would be the undoing of the plan! Assuming that a third of us are awake we would still receive approximately two and a third billion thoughts a second (somewhat less), and of these if the plan accounted for even 75% the other 25% would eventually overwhelm the plan with the changes prescribed.

So, it would not be a plan that could be followed.

And if there is a plan created that cannot absolutely be followed, it is a waste of effort. And why indulge in a waste of effort…


Now, mind you… all of this is effective only if humanity is not an experiment of “free will” with some small set parameters that are supposed to be effected whenever any other target/goal takes place in which instance a partial plan would make sense. But that is far too much into guessing the fabric of universe for a late hour such as this.

On Locations and Songs

It has made me most curious to find that it would seem lyrics for songs (to be fair, maybe also movies and books), have a better effect on people if they are close to the area mentioned therein. I am not entirely sure, but that is quite what it looks like.

And I have tried to think back and to see whether similar effects have applied in the past, but it is difficult for few things I listen to deal with places/locations, so I am not sure if I can attest to this being entirely true.

[Probably have to be in the States to enjoy the full effect of that. =P]

I’ll close my eyes and sleep, sleep, To the sound of London rain.

K.u.k. (cont.)

As promised, I will now expand on that thoroughly unhelpful post from yesterday that more had the intention of forcing me to write more than to actually say something useful (unless someone has the ability to follow my random thought-jumps without any problems).

Now, from a historic point of view, K.u.k. is a way of addressing the political reality of what was the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the monarchy that ruled it. This comes from the German phrase “kaiserlich und königlich” that could be just as well rendered into an English “Imperial and Royal” though for my purposes “Imperial and Regal” would be better suited. Or maybe not. In any case, I much prefer the German one just because it has more of a ring to it than “I.R”/”I.&R.” would, at least in my mind.

But what could it signify when we go past the historical meaning?

Now we will use a different tool to delve into that: a dictionary. I’ll use both the Oxford and Merriam-Webster ones to illustrate my thoughts.


relating to an emperor:
the imperial family
majestic or magnificent:
the bedroom is huge and very imperial

of superior or unusual size or excellence

For the sake of clarity, the first explanation there is from the Oxford, second from MW.


of a quality or size suitable for a king or queen; splendid:
she received a royal welcome

a : suitable for royalty : magnificent
b : requiring no exertion : easy <there is no royal road to logic — Justus Buchler>
a : of superior size, magnitude, or quality —often used as an intensive

So, to explain what all those quotes might have brought to mind — in ideal conditions, these two words could be used as an adjective of the highest order to describe something. So, why not try to live so that these could be applied to a person’s life? 🙂

That indeed was my thought — that when used in a well-meaning way, these words could be representative of what an ideal person could be like. That is not to say that an ideal person would have to be a monarch, but rather to imply that regular descriptive words are weaker and less all-encompassing than the need here.

There we go.

Histories of the World

Recently, there has been quite a bit of general conversation about on history, and especially on histories of the world.

I, speaking on the most basic level, am quite against any attempt to put together a history of the world. The most basic reason for this is that no matter how it is done, a large portion of what should be in it will be left out. (And, in all likelihood, a lot of what won’t be necessary to include will be included).

I guess I’ll just have to take a look and see what Mr Andrew Marr has built with his new show. But, until that time I can throw a few ideas of my own around…

Say, what I would most certainly not include.

That is by itself a very difficult question to answer since first it would be necessary to decide on a balance between culture and politics. I would probably aim for a more political-military approach because that is the one I personally prefer. Even so, I would probably cut out a large part that usually concerns itself with Napoleon and Alexander. Mind you, I am not saying that is not an important area but I find that far often Alexander is covered in reasonable detail and no mention is made of his successors. [Indeed, the fact that I don’t have to specify even Alexander of Macedon or Alexander III, expecting people to realize, is a sufficient example of how well-known he is.] I find that the Diadochi who came after are a far more worthy subject of discussion in detail, especially considering them determining the fate of the region for the next few hundred years.

Why get rid of Napoleon? Again, maybe just crop him… but thoroughly. With respect to him two less mentioned things which are of greater importance would be the selling of Louisiana and the Congress of Vienna. Overall, all of his military victories combined only to make for one large defeat — so that would be noteworthy, but very much dependent on how much space and time there is to attribute to cases.

Anything else that comes to mind immediately?

Probably the idea of trying to explain the way Southern Africa developed would be a reasonable idea due to it being an often ignored part of the world.

Less time in medieval Europe, more in the Asian lands. Discussing the actual role of companies such as the East India Company (Dutch/British/Portuguese) in colonizing new lands. How Southern America developed and splintered. The failure of the Ottoman Empire. Existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (oh yes it does annoy me how often this is overlooked and marginalized or simply mentioned as an introductory sentence to the partitionings of Poland).

Probably a decision would also have to be made with the political-military approach whether to take up random stories or related to certain people, and how to introduce things from there. I would think the people based approach is the one I’d prefer to use, very much because of the ability to then introduce relatively little known figures like Alcibiades or Vauban or any number of people most history-people can name in instants. Suvorov. Yep, just proved the case once again…

Moons and Ships

Of all that there is out there, I guess that the sea brings to my mind the most trivial (and yet the most important) questions.

I managed to spend a good few hours on the bridge today, and most of it was spent looking out at the sea while it was getting darker. It is certainly a most impressive sight, and it was made better today by the relatively cloudless sky.

The sight itself? The moon’s rising light reflecting on the clouds above nightfall.

It was quite amazing indeed.

And the interesting thoughts? How many ships have passed by any of these places we are at in the entire history of the world? And how many places here have never been sailed upon? [Would the water feel any different…]

‘The Living Mountain’, N. Shepherd

“This narrow loch has never, I believe, been sounded. I know its depth, though not in feet.”

‘The Living Mountain’ is a brilliant work on the Cairngorms, and I would say, on the way mountains exist. While I would not even pretend that I understood everything the author wrote about, I would say that I saw why she loved those mountains in her words.

Without a doubt, her writings also made me think of visiting them, if only to see that which evoked Nan Shepherd to write like this. The emotion hidden in so many of her words is deep and moving.

Could it be that it is a primal desire for the wilds that Nan Shepherd managed to capture? Maybe; but maybe she saw that those mountains offered her a window into her own soul…

“It is a journey into Being; for as I penetrate more deeply into the mountain’s life, I penetrate also into my own. For an hour I am beyond desire. It is not ecstasy, that leap out of the self that makes man like a god. I am not out of myself, but in myself. I am. To know Being, this is the final grace accorded from the mountain.”

On Liberty

The boundaries of ’liberty’ are clearly and well seen when one reaches upon the thought that any one object, sensation, or feeling, if being called a liberty, itself drive the boundaries of this so-called ‘liberty’ onwards, and do not assist in extinguishing the flame of burdens, but rather serve as places from which the radiance of liberty is cast forward only to shine against the darkness of the night in assurance that wherever a concept of liberty has developed there also exists the notion of imprisonment, and by that the word liberty in itself encloses a space and thereby leaves it not free in any notion or state of will. This is likewise confirmed by that there cannot exist a notion of liberty if there is no form of entanglement from which one could be liberated – to be free, one first needs to be held back.

If this is to be reassured by an example of sorts then one only has to envision that a man of a free society, which knows no borders or limits to itself or its abilities, if one such can indeed exist, would have no concept of either liberty, for there is nothing but liberty, nor of imprisonment, to an enclosed unit of thoughts, wishes, desires, actions, or movements, for such a thing would be an impossibility in their society. If this man would now happen to meet a man of the modern society, and he would be asked what are his liberties in his life and existence, then he would have no opportunity to answer, because nothing in that life is a liberty insofar as it is already something taken for granted, thereby losing the illustrious image of a liberty. So, the man would, in all likelihood, say “Could you pray tell, what is this ‘liberty’?”

This is what I wrote on this interesting question some time ago.

Concepts of Beauty and Elegance

I also thought it might be worth to introduce a few concepts of beauty and elegance, just so it would be possible to spend a fraction of that time (that time that we spend doing nothing, or maybe… maybe, not doing nothing, but say, looking out of the window at the clouds passing by) understanding what makes that cloud, passing by, worth looking at.

  • miyabi: aspects of beauty that only a highly refined taste could appreciate (the pale shades of dye in a garment, the fragile geometry of a dew-laden spider web, the delicate petal of a purple lotus, the texture of the paper of a lover’s letter, paly yellow clouds trailing over a crimson sunset)
  • en: beauty that was more obvious and sprightly
  • aware: a pleasant emotion evoked unexpectedly (what one feels when one sees a cherry blossom or an autumn maple)
  • yugen: the foreboding of aware (at a brilliant sunset one’s mind feels aware, but as the shadows deepen and night birds cry, one’s soul feels yugen)
  • shibui: the studied restraint that might be described as knowing when to stop (in a sense, the absence of all that is not essential; a sense of disciplined strength deliberately held in check to make what is done seem effortless; the absence of the ornate and the explicit in favor of the sober and the suggestive)

These were the main concepts that I have managed to identify thus far; I am sure that there are many many more, but I felt like they would deserve their place over here, so they are here.

 Full disclosure: Explanations of the terms from Thomas Hoover’s ‘Zen Culture’

Of the Aurorae

Based on the news and words out there, we just saw the Aurora Borealis in Norfolk. I smiled when I realized that I missed it, but people I know saw it (or a reflection of it). I don’t even know why smile at something as innocuous as that, but I did. And I enjoyed the thought that one day I will look at them (somewhere else, probably) and take the most of the sight.

And I was pleased of finding out it was that.