Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Terentius 5 steps. Online we are offline concerning to 3 of his steps.

Ever heard of  Terentius (190-159 BC)? Ever heard of his 5 steps of Venus? It's the steps we take one after another "meeting" a new lover: (1) see (2) talk (3) touch (4) kiss and (5) make love. When I apply this to our online world I discover - planet Earth year 2010 - that we only are able to take the first 2 steps. Online we will never be able to touch, kiss and make love to a potential new lover. (Or do you take cybersex  for real?) In this respect 'being online' is a strange image because we're offline towards 3 steps. In this respect I do not really understand why so many of us think that the online world is more real, more fantastic, more living, more cool, and more connected to the world. Or am I biased because I like smelling, touching and tasting so much?

Any idea how influential images are?

Details. I'm a man of details. I pick the images or metaphors I use in my communication  - in case you missed it - with great care. I do not only pick them with great care I also 'play' with them. Surprised? Any idea how influential images are? Did you know that every language has it's own historical biased set of metaphors? Did you know that in Dutch there are a lot of images who can be traced back to the Dutch 'Golden Age' of the 17th century? Did you know that the explorations of the 15th and 16th century have left their traces in  Portuguese and Spanish?

Let me use an example, we all are very familiar are with, to explain what I am pointing at. Images of 'love':
  • river: floating and never the same
  • game: win or lose
  • prison: feel locked up and always longing for being somewhere else
  • alpha and omega of life: begin and end
  • unit of raising kids: bond between man and wife to reproduce species 'homo sapiens'
  • other half of me: your 1/2 and my 1/2 = 1
  • hunting: hunter and prey
What's my point? If we look at love from an 'Other half of me' point of view we live our lives expecting to find her one day. Who? The one who will make my 1/2 soul 1. If I can't find her I'll be disappointed and frustrated. If my present love will have it's downs (ups are never the contraint) I'll conclude that she in retrospect was not the '1' I was looking and longing for. The relation will not last.

If we look at love from the 'Unit of raising kids' image of Desmond Morris we will learn that  man and wife join together to get procreated. Morris also tells that a good relation evolves from pair forming sex  (high intensity) to pair binding sex (less intense). If you expect to always have pair forming kind of sex any relation will be a disappointment.  

What has all this to do with you? I try to make you sensitive for the fact that we sometimes are trapped in the image we use for something. The image we use is like a prison - this is a metaphor too. It  tell us what we see and don't see. It predicts what makes us happy and sad. It even defines our definition on happiness.

The bible, Matthew 7:24-29 says: "built your house on rock and not on sand". At first sight we'd better not built our house on sand because it's not rock. But! If we look at sand like a 'sea of sand' a window of opportunities is opened. A houseboat is perfectly capable to navigate on any dessert. 

Tell me. When was the last time that you realised that you could escape from a "trap" by using another metaphor?

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    Stones 99 names of. Stones boring? 99 + 1 ways of looking at them

    A couple of months ago I worked on an archeological exhibition. I loved to work on it. To feel, touch and smell all those old artifacts. A lot of them were made out of stone. At the same time I sensed that for a lot of people all those stones were boring, stupid and meaningless. All this puzzled me and made me wonder. The result? My list of 99 + 1 ways of looking at stones.
    Wordle: JeanD99
    1. Ammunition. Stones for slinges and catapults.
    2. Arch. An arch is a structure that spans a space while supporting weight.
    3. Arguing. “When arguing with a stone an egg is always wrong” (African proverb).
    4. Being out of fashion. People who still live in the Stone-age are considered to be old fashioned.
    5. Being successful. Woman are decorated with diamonds to effuse being successful.
    6. Books. There are more books written on stones than one of us can read during his/ her life time.
    7. Bridging level. Stepping stones.
    8. Cannon ball. First cannon balls were made out of stone.
    9. Catcher of nightmares. My eldest daughter has a few stones that protect her against nightmares. Not every stone works every night  ;) 
    10. Cave. A cave(rn) is a big rock with a hole in it.
    11. Chinese wall. The only human made structure on Earth we can see from out of space.
    12. Clean feet. Garden path of stones.
    13. Construction element. With stones and wood we can built houses.
    14. Cooking stones. Before 'homo sapiens sapiens' had cooking pans our ancestors threw hot stones in a leather bag with liquid for cooking.
    15. Corner- or foundingstone. First stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
    16. Covey' big rock. Metaphor for most important priority that has to be done. First plan and work on the big rocks. Second the pebbles.
    17. Decipher. With the Rosetta stone we were able to decipher a language that was lost for more than 2.000 years.
    18. Decreting. On the Rosetta stone the ancient egyptians made a decree "forever" in 3 languages.
    19. Details. Rocks and sand are both composed of the same elements, this is tiny little stones. Sand are stones. Rocks are stones. The only difference is the amount and size.
    20. Display of wealth. If one can afford a house of stone one is "more wealthy" than living in a shack of branches and twigs.
    21. Distance. Ice and rivers can translocate stones hunderds of miles from their place of birth.
    22. Durability. Banks are enrobed by granite to effuse durability.
    23. Earth' crust. Planet Earth's crust occupies less than 1% of Earth's volume. Do we live on solid ground? No, actually it is a thin veneer (dutch 'dun laagje vernis').
    24. Elixir of life. The 'Philosophers Stone' is for some useful for rejuvenation and achieving immortality.
    25. Eponym. Giver of names to family, song, band, place etc.
    26. Fire. Some stones can be used for making fire.
    27. Fossils. Preserved remains of extinct dinosaur species in stone.
    28. Getting stoned. Feeling high, strange, happy, dizzy or weird after taking drugs.
    29. Grave. A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave.
    30. Gravestone. In memory of another human being or pet.
    31. Grind food. Ostriches eat stones, to help them grind food in their second stomach.
    32. Guide. A track of stones to find the way back home.
    33. Harsh. “A word from the mouth is like a stone from a sling” (Spanish proverb).
    34. Healing. According to some stones are healing.
    35. Holiness. The Black Stone is a Muslim relic. Apart from the ritual role of the Black Stone, its black colour symbolise the progress towards God.
    36. Household. Knife, sickle, grindstone, piercer, scraper out of stone.
    37. Huge impact on human race. Rocks have had a huge impact on the cultural and technological advancement of the human race. Rocks have been used by 'homo sapiens' and other 'hominids' for more than two million years. Lithic technology marks some of the oldest and continuously used technologies.
    38. Hunting.  Spear- or arrowhead from stone.
    39. Image. If we go into the universe and look back to planet Earth it's just like a big stone.
    41. Indifference. “To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same” (Bhagavad Gita).
    42. Just in time. With great relief nearly missing a collision with a big rock. Realising you could have died. Peak experiences like this can change peoples lives.
    43. Keeper of secrets. Pre-historic monument Stonehenge: Secular calender? Burial place? Place of healing? Companion in rituals? Astronomical sign?
    44. King maker. Scottish monarchs were seated upon the Stone of Scone during their coronation ceremony.
    45. Marker of distance. Milestone.
    46. Marker of familylines. Edda (72): "Gravestones seldom stand by the way-side unless raised by a kinsman to a kinsman."
    47. Marker of new phase in life. Milestone.
    48. Marker of territory. Stones to delineate land ownership.
    49. Matter of definition. Stone = stone? Sometimes not. "Stone" as used in natural language is not identical to dutch definition "stone is sedimentary rock bigger than 63 mm and smaller than 200 mm."
    50. Meditation. Raking stones into a pattern - recalling waves or rippling water - by Zen priests helps them focus their concentration.
    51. Memory. War memorials. 
    52. Message out of space. Meteorite or tektite.
    53. Metaphor. "Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty."
    54. Mirror. Stones are like a mirror. Aren't they?
    55. Misfortune. A rock or stone on your house can crush everything you worked for.
    56. Motionless. Lying as dead as a stone.
    57. No parking. Obstacle of stone forcing to park somewhere else.
    58. Not like bread. “Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new” (LeGuin).
    59. Oldest stone. In the Nuvvuagittuq Belt in Canada rocks are found dated from 3.8 to 4.28 billion years old.
    60. On the road. A little stone on the highway can cause a little hole in the window pane of your car.
    61. Pest opponent. 'Mousestones' (german 'Mäuseplatte') keep the mouses from food stocks.
    62. Pile of stones. Between plots of land stones are piled to keep the land "free" of stones.
    63. Predictor of the future. Shamans or magicians use stones and bones for predicting the future.
    64. Preservational mode. Fossilized tree resin or amber sometimes contains animals or plant matter that became caught in the resin as it was secreted.
    65. Savage. "The savage bows down to idols of wood and stone, the civilized man to idols of flesh and blood” (Shaw).
    66. Sculpture. Michelangelo made the 'Statue of David' by carving marble.
    67. Security. Stone wall of a fortress.
    68. Shaping. Wind, water, ice, sunshine and animals shape a stone. Water and other stones in a river make a stone round.
    69. Solidified lava. In 79 AD the Roman cities of Pompeij en Herculaneum in Italy were (partially) buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius. The solidified lava gives an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.
    70. Source of quarrels. Judaism and Islam consider the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem as a holy spot. For Judaism it's their holiest spot. For the Islam it's one of the holiest sites.
    71. Stability. The bible, Matthew 7:24-29 says: "built your house on rock and not on sand".
    72. Starter of dreams. Dream stones.
    73. Stele. Slab of stone erected for commemorative purposes.
    74. Stonegrilling. Preparing food on a stone slab.
    75. Stoning. Killing another human being by throwing stones at him/her until he/she dies.
    76. Subject for a dissertation. In the context of love a stone is negative e.g. "you have a heart of stone". Used as construction element metaphor a stone is positive e.g. "you are the cornerstone of our organisation". The perception on stones in various contexts. Angles: antropological, sociological, historical, language etc.
    77. Subject for a movie. Track a stone over millions of years.
    78. Subject in a song. Undercover - Baker Street. "But you know he's gonna keep moving. You know he's never gonna stop moving. He's rolling, he's the rolling stone. When you wake up it's a new morning. The sun is shining, it's a new morning. But you're going, you're going home."
    79. Subject new book. History of stones in relation to species 'homo sapiens sapiens': the wonderful world of stones as tools.
    80. Symbol of ordinariness. Nothing as ordinary, boring and stupid - according to some - than a stone.
    81. Technology outsmarts Giant. David beats the strong giant Goliath with a few stones and a slinge.
    82. Ten Commandments. The 10 moral imperatives that God gave to Moses on two stones. The moral foundation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
    83. Time period. The Stone-age is a broad prehistoric time period during which humans widely used stone for toolmaking.
    84. Timelessness and memorialization. Obelisks: Cleopatra's Needle.
    85. Tomb. A dolmen is single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone.
    86. Top of the world. The highest point on Earth is made of stone. Really? Yes look under the snow on the top of mount Everest.
    87. Touchstone. Stone used to identify precious metals.
    88. Traveling companion. It's the asphalt or dirt road we take.
    89. Turner of metal into gold. For a long time the 'Philosophers Stone' was the most sought-after goal in Western alchemy.
    90. Unit of measure. 1 stone is usually a mass of about 6.35 kilograms.
    91. Unpredictable. A volcanic plug.
    92. Water ripples. Stone is a thing you throw in a river to make nice water ripples.
    93. Way of life. Behave like a "rolling stone".
    94. Wisdom. A man who wants to move a mountain starts with moving the little rocks.
    95. Wonder. How strange to realize that there a so many angles on stones.
    96. Wood turned into stone. Petrified wood is a type of fossil: it consists of fossil wood where all the organic materials have been replaced with minerals, while retaining the original structure of the wood.
    97. Word. 'Stone' is a word in a sentence refering to something in the real physical world.
    98. Workmanslook. Stonewashed jeans produce a faded and worn appearance to a newly manufactured jeans.
    99. Worship. The Dome of the rock in Jerusalem is a holy spot for Judaism and Islam
    ... The 100th name is a mystery. It's the name you can add: … - yes you can!

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Am I a magician?

    Sometimes I think I can predict and influence human behavior.

    SUICIDE EYES. I shook hands with a new consultant (forget his name) 10 years ago. Small talk. Talk about his education and work experiences. Talk about his new job. I wished him luck. A few minutes later his manager  H asked me, "What do you think of our new consultant?" Me: '"Do you really want to know?" H: "Ofcourse." Me: "I think he will be allright as consultant but he want make it very long because he is planning to commit suicide". H: "You are kidding, aren't you?" Me: "I don't know. It's just what my feeling/ intuition told me when I looked in his eyes". Silence for one week. Telephone rings. H on the phone. H: "You never guess what happened?" Me: "I have no idea. Tell me!" H: "Our new consultant committed suicide just as you told." Me: "O my God. I'm so sorry. I feel so guilty now. May be if I talked to him may be I could have saved him." If's all those if's.

    DRUGS. My best friend U has a brother G. G took over the mushroom business of his father. The mushroom business is a bad investment last 15 years in the Netherlands. Why? Competion from Poland, where the price per working hour is much cheeper. (Mushroom business is an workman-intensive-business.) The father of U and G died. Years go by. One day my wife N tells me: "G is getting a divorce". Me: "Why?" N: "His wife did fall in love with another man and she went away with him." Me - split second later: "Well, everybody has the right to fuck up his/her life but the result will be that G is going into the drugsbusiness." Six months go by. Telephone rings. My mother-in-law: "Did you already hear the news?" N: "I don't know. What news?" Mother-in-law: "G has been arrested this morning for drugsbusiness." N: "Jean already predicted it 6 months ago." How did I know? Answer: I can rationalize it: G is selfish; G wanted to take revenge towards his wife; G allways spends more money than he can afford; bad friends; and a lot more. But that's rationalisation. My feeling/ intuition told me, out of the blue and in a split second: "Drugs, he no longer has a woman who can stop him!"

    Am I a magician? I don't think so. I like to observe people. I like to predict their behavior. I like to solve human puzzles. When I'm honest: most of the time my predictions are wrong. Most of the time most people are unpredicatable for me. I just can't tell what they are going to do and explain why they did what they did. Always a lot of guesses but almost no answers. To be more honest: sometimes I can't even predict my own behavior or acting.

    How about you: can you explain and predict your own acting?

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Another inconvenient truth: Yes, what we all are ...

    Strange how ones mind works. In my blog 'On the fat word 'vegetarianism'. Living means killing, harming and eating' I wrote about facing the painfull truth that living means killing and eating. Thinking and puzzling about this, the next quote came into  my mind:  “Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.” (J.D Salinger/ Catcher in the Rye). I allways translate this as "we're all prostitutes one way or another".

    We are what? We all sell our mind, body, labor, creativity, intimacy, sex, power to understand, power to synergize or ... (?; there must be more) in exchange for money, power or whatever. Money we use for paying our bills. Money we need for our survival. You may not like it. You may not want to. You may dream of some paradise hidden in  history or in the future. Face! Face the painfull truth that we all sell our body and soul in exchange for our material comfort. Face it, don't be a phony.

    On the fat word 'vegetarianism'. Living means killing, harming and eating.

    We live in a world of fat words. Words that are pregnant of meanings, theoretical and historical backgrounds and thousands of scientists who are specialist on any given fat word. Freedom, democray, health care, love, religion, ethics and vegetarianism are all fat words. Every day all of us make thousands of big and small decisions on fat words. Mostly not realizing it's a fat word. I guess most of us remain unconscious our whole life it's a fat word at all.  

    I've 4 kids: 2 boys and 2 girls. My eldest son doesn't eat 'risotto'. My eldest daughter doesn't eat 'boerenkool'. My youngest daughter doesn't eat 'witlof'. And my 4th kid? My youngest son eats everything.  As parents  we oblige our kids to eat their diner every evening. If they don't eat they will get no dessert - it's  a reward not punishment. If that doesn't help they will go to bed without having had their meal. There's only 1 exception to this rule: everyone may choose 1 non-favourite meal. If we're having ones non-favourite meal he or she may eat a sandwich instead.

    On not eating animals. On vegetarianism. On not eating parts of cows, chickens and fish.  On not using animal products. Just  be you  - and not some idealized, perfect version of you. If you don't like eating and abusing animals  then don't. May be one day the fat word 'vegetarianism' will enter into my family. What will I decide? My answer will be something like this. Choose your non-favourite meal! It's all up to you. On the other hand I'll use all the tricks I can think up if one of my kids will not eat animals out of religion. I'm personally convinced that living our lives means killing other animals. Species 'homo sapiens' can't live and survive if we don't kill, eat and use other animals. We can't! You may not like it. You may not want to. You may dream of some paradise hidden in  history or in the future. Face! Face the painfull truth that living means killing and eating. We kill, harm and eat animals because we want to survive. Figuratively my kids eat me and my wife for their survival. Don't fly. Don't hide. Wake up and embrace life.

    P.s. Even veganist kill for their survival. They kill animals that are hardly perceptible to the eye while moving in their sleep or using a broom. They eat food that can't be eaten by others. On planet Earth there are still millions of other human beings that die because of lack of food. Why don't you give them your meal?

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    What makes the world turn around? In custom we trust

    What makes the world turn around? Moviestars, nobelprice winners or all those twitterers or buzzerers that unrestingly check out 24/7 the newest news, hottest applications or greatest blogs? No!

    What does? Who do? It's you and me! It's our daily routine on our normal days that keeps the world going. Day in day out. Week in week out. Year in year out. It's the string of all those normal, routine and nothing special days that keeps the economy going, feeds wars, elects politicians, launches moviestars and breeds nobelprice winners.

    Without "custom" our species could not eat, drink, reproduce, live and die. 'Homo sapiens' would halt on planet Earth if we keep on putting questionmarks on everything we eat and drink. Food is nutritious. A road brings us to our work. Tonight I'll sleep in my own bed in my own house next to my wife. My kids will return from school. Tomorrow I'll talk to my colleagues. If I send an e-mail to a friend he/she will answer me back. The glider I'm flying with will bring me back to the ground after flying for a few hours.

    Spoiled and poisoned food? Pitfalls in the road? Collapsed houses after an earthquake? Kidnapped kids? Colleagues who die in a car accident? Unanswered friendships? Crashed gliders? Ofcouse all that happens but those things can only happen because we are customed that they will not happen on normal days. It will only happen on abnormal days. In custom we trust.

    And all those twitterers or buzzerers that unrestingly check out 24/7 the newest news, hottest applications or greatest blogs? It's routine, normal and nothing special too if you check out the newest, hottest and greatest day in day out. Week in week out. Year in year out. Custom!