Writing Wisdom from Philip Zaleski

“Words have consequences; writing is a moral act,” writes Philip Zaleski, editor of The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004. “To recognize this pays a triple dividend, for it inoculates us against the three daily literary devices of pandering to popular taste, creative laziness, and didacticism. The last item may surprise those who fear that any talk of moral writing will unleash an army of bluenoses ready to censor at will or of apparatchiks who will demand a political subtext to every sentence. But such worries stem from misunderstanding the obligations placed upon us by the nature of the craft. To write ugly prose, or to cripple one’s language to meet the standards of the day, or to warp one’s creation into a political placard -all this is to write immorally. The task of the spiritual writer is to uphold truth and beauty at whatever cost, in whatever way his art demands.”

 

 

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Capacity to Wonder

Where would the Abrahamic religions be without their precious conflicts? I say “precious” because all the Abrahamic religions have developed largely by thriving on conflict to such an insidious degree that they experience a crisis of purpose when not faced with some constant, huge moral drama of problems to suffer and fight against. Abrahamic believers can never let themselves be at peace with the life of the world’s profoundly normal and anciently functioning natural cycles of life and death. They must always look for some problem to throw themselves against, and when they do not find one, they invent one. They are bored with peace, because peace does not bring about their sick fantasy of armageddon. They have become so entwined with their need to fight everything that even the world itself has been sorrowfully vilified by their holy texts that resent the creaturely body and the ground itself. What a poverty of spirit when the whole living, physical world is decried as your resented enemy keeping you from some imaginary disembodied heaven, instead of your natural, creaturely, beloved eternal home.

To truly educate is to bring out what is already inside a person. A teacher may input information, but authentic education uses this imparting of information to draw out the animistic aliveness of the student in their capacity to wonder.

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Mysterious Math

What do you call it when the starting number is 1? The way some people count “age 1” upon birth? Different cultural thoughts about math. Ethnomathematics.

How can zero be a number if it doesn’t exist? What is this thing of existence representing what is not in existence at all? By giving a name to what doesn’t exist, do we then make it exist is some way?

If zero represents nothing, how can it exist? Is it something that exists in and of itself, this nothingness? Zero is deceptive. It sure looks like a whole number, being all roundish and ovular wholesome, but in truth there is a sneaking black hole right through the middle of it. Is zero something that exists? The symbol 0 exists, but if it represents nothing, is that a something? How can a “nothing” have such a strong effect? Does nature abhor a zero? For being an ostensible nothing-at-all, Zero sure does cause a lot of trouble when you try to divide something by it.

Any number divided by zero is undefined,” they say. If Johnny has 5 apples and he divides them by nothing at all, but instead keeps them united, (indivisible apples, undivided) then wouldn’t the result be, well, no different than what he started out with? Dividing by nothing should be the same as not dividing at all. Or perhaps Johny would have 1, meaning 1 group of apples, because they are undivided, because you can only divide something by a number other than 1, so diving by 0 would be, in fact, un-dividing. Johnny still has 5 undivided apples, or 1 group of them. That’s reality. Sounds pretty well-defined.

So to come along and say “it can’t be done! Meaningless! Undefined!” makes me think that zero is a hidden something after all, a renegade, just like pi, lurking in the middle portal to infinity. Expansively consuming the magic void between a 1 and a -1. It’s up to something, hiding out in the land between One and One’s Mirror (-1).

Difference is a word that you get when you subtract numbers from each other. Are we so different because something has been subtracted from us?

Are negative numbers a way to assign debt to nature where there really is none? Does the concept of a negative balance exist in the beautiful life-world? If integers to the left of zero on the number line are always in debt, does this make then feel negative?

Do early-learned “tricks” in math make it harder to visualize true math as students mature?

How much math goes into the making of paper? How much math goes into determining bias against children with un-mathematical gifts? Is math in our brains when we see the sunrise? What about beautiful words? How many maths? How many moments of beauty?

Where is math in the human mind?

Psychology Class

I scored an A in my psychology class! And this is what my professor wrote to me:

“You were such a wonderful, deep, insightful presence in the course. You added so much to your fellow students and to me. Your big connections to multiple levels of knowing and experience is needed in science and in Psychology. I hope you find a way to stay connected to it. You have an analytical and very expansive way of looking at the world. Very refreshing for me. All my best!” –Professor Corey

 

 

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