Saturday, August 10, 2013

Old man review…

Old man review. Read at your own risk.

As you get older, the illusion is that time goes by faster. The theory, I think, is that the segment that is passing --- the hour, day, or week --- is a smaller and smaller fraction of the hours, days, etc. that you have lived. Your time is being used up and you only have a smaller fraction of what you had. At the ripe old age of sixty-five, this dynamic has certainly kicked in for me.

Time seems to be passing by way too fast; I have too little of it left to assimilate everything that I need to or want to. I am like a computer you buy, utilize, fill up, and that eventually begins to be too full, inadequate in capacity and speed, freezing up, and crashing. Furthermore, keeping up with the pace of technology seems to have a similar dynamic: I can't keep up and at times I don't want to even try keeping up. Therefore, going into reading this book, SMARTER THAN YOU THINK: HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING OUR MINDS FOR THE BETTER, I thought that technology wasn't necessarily changing my mind for the better. I didn't have adequate time and, perhaps, the ability for it to do so. For example, I haven't adopted to cell phones and such e-devices as readily or as rapidly as many of my friends, neighbors and relatives, often to my detriment, but more often to my delight and my contemporaries' chagrin.

But I think Clive Thompson makes some astute observations and plausible explanations for why he believes technology changes our minds for the better. I, of course, enjoyed reading the various histories in the evolution of innovation that he tells about and about humankind's continuing reluctances through the years and now to accept change. I also enjoyed reading about new innovations, innovators, and conceptions of human intelligence, etc. What a delight! How overwhelming! I did enjoy the read, and as I perused and contemplated what I had read I did realize that I do incorporate innovation, even in old age, into my life to make things easier. For example, I'm utilizing voice dictation software in order to write this because it has become more and more painful and irritating to type things out because of arthritis.

I am not, however, convinced that we retain our learning longer than we used to. However, learning is much more accessible in our era than ever before and that is the dynamic that has been changing and seems to be continuing to change. I like it that I can have access to information now that I could never have access to so readily in earlier periods of my lifetime.

Some change, however, is quite scary. I think of the contemporary crises involving data collection by the NSA, for example. Doesn't it have a tendency to put into jeopardy all notions of privacy that we might have? Furthermore, without a clean and clear commitment of mind to the whole enterprise of technology, it is all for naught. People become addicted to mindlessness: playing perhaps entertaining games and watching and being stimulated by videos and whatnot in an addictive manner that doesn't necessarily improve the mind or the quality of living but wastes it away. So, the caveat is always it only works to better your mind if you apply yourself in a responsible way.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


For me, truth is a matter of the imagination, as Ursula Le Guin said, or rather as she imagined Genly Ai telling her that. (See the ~ 1976 Introduction to the rerelease of the 1969 award winning science fiction novel, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS.)
Truth is not the imagination, but the presence of truth always includes the imagination. In LDS scripture, we learn that truth is what happened, what's happening, what will happen. I know (or I imagine) that when I consider what happened, I use my imagination. I doubt that any person is and different than me in that regard. When I consider what will happen, I also use my imagination. I hesitate to think anyone else doesn't do that, too, although, perhaps, I could imagine it. When I consider what is happening, like me typing this out right now, trying to make sense, to select a rational order of words, etc., there is no doubt that I call on my imagination to deliver it contemporaneously.
"What if" is an element of the imagination; it is a feature of existence. It is not ever-present; it comes and goes. We don't like it continually present and work to eliminate it.
Fear is at the core of our being; essential to our very survival. It is also at the core of religion, of the LDS canon, and of other doctrines far and wide. It is a catalyst to action and to analysis and change. We use our imaginations to deal with fear.
Was that the sound of the cat knocking the toaster off the counter, a shutter bumping in the breeze, or a prowler? If the sound is fearful enough, we respond automatically --- fight or flight kicks in --- without analysis. Examination of what happened then comes later, and we use our imaginations to relive and evaluate the experience, to make changes, adaptations, etc. for good or for bad.
There is a time and a place to doubt just as there is a time to eat and sleep.