Setting out.
Beginning at the end, I set out with a goal in mind. Butterflies aren't so special, you don't need to be pretty to kick-off a storm - although it helps - there's always hope; the Wrath-of-god was defeated by a tiny virus. This was my preamble. "If you want to feel better take a pill, if you want to get better face the truth."

letters from home

13 June 2022, written: 1 Jul 2017.
1.   Wandering.

In his preface to 'Philosophical Investigations' Wittgenstein described the difficulties he had had with writing it. I found it a great comfort that what he said described so well the struggles I have had; I mean no other comparison.

After several unsuccessful attempts to weld my results together into a whole, I realized that I should never succeed. The best that I could write would never be more than philosophical remarks; my thoughts were soon crippled if I tried to force them on in any single direction against their natural inclination. (And this was, of course, connected with the very nature of the investigation; For this compels us to travel over a wide field of thought criss-cross in every direction.)
2.   Maps.

Each time I have reached the end of my Sisyphean rambling, it has proved to be a mirage. The diagrams I drew along the way illustrate a journey I didn't know I was on, and my thoughts continue to slip from the lines I try and tie them to. Telling a story about signs, and the words of stories, is a recursive task. This is the Red Pill. Words, whether Korzybski's or mine, Wittgenstein's or yours, are illusions, subjective maps not actual territories.

My words tell stories about me although I cannot find their start. Stories have beginnings though and this was mine.
3.   Connection.

I arrived in Finland from London, enchanted, with no thought of being tripped up by the culture. The country felt soft, the people seemed kind, and unlike Greek or Chinese, Finnish is legible. I'd fallen in love. When my love died though the society I'd been part of died too. Alone, I found I was incomprehensible.

Words are just noise or marks on a page. Meaning is social and personal.
4.   Logic.

As a child I had felt lost. Simple logic became my safe place. Back then it seemed the perfect guide as I searched for a world of black and white, together with maths and science. However, what I found was that logic, while appearing to be simple, and fundamental to describing chaos, can often be powerfully misleading.

Three million unemployed; three million immigrants. There is no equality here.
5.   Change.

Facts are unhelpful in themselves. We've not dropped far from the trees. Leaders know gibberish and bravado sway us more than reason or courage. While scientists might imagine that their facts will change the world it's only the stories told with them that do that. Meanwhile, the investments we've made in the stories that we know keep it the same.

Meditating heads did not stop bullets, falling towers did not end faith.
6.   Curriculum.

The internet has provided us with a new way to criss-cross wide and disparate fields, but at the same time, perhaps more importantly, it has mazed us in ways to become lost. Having neither the wisdom nor the humility of Wittgenstein however, I ploughed on trying to complete this online story about stories - on being heard, encouraged by that passing virus which killed the Wrath-of-god.

My father's life now mine, my work humbled by the tyranny of code dimly comprehended and clumsily grasped, is quiet, surrounded by cultured sounds, while your imagination wonders on the page, dwells in words, breathes and pauses, expecting itself.

  next:  Unfolding Expression

the wrath of god

Timur, the last great nomadic emperor, known as the 'Wrath-of-God', invaded Baghdad in June 1401. After capturing the city, Timur ordered every soldier to present him with at least two severed human heads. When there were no more men to kill, many warriors killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign, and when they ran out of prisoners many resorted to beheading their own wives; 20,000 citizens were massacred. Scholars estimate that Timur's military campaigns overall caused the deaths of 17 million people. Four years later, in the city that is modern-day Shahrisabz, as the 'Wrath-of-God' prepared to invade China he was killed by a virus.

Wikipedia. citation: Ibn Arabshah, Timur the Great Amir, p. 168

From the preface to: Philosophical Investigations,  by its author: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Cambridge, January 1945, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe.

writing recursions

Edit: 9 Feb '22, written: 3 Jan '22

While writing appears as transparent as speech, we can only imagine the meaning behind words and signs. It is quite surprising, therefore, that what we imagine is ever correct. More often than not we need to have a conversation to understand each other - whereas computers never need to have one, because they understand nothing at all.

To fight the devils that came to them in the isolation of their cells, monks were told to keep journals. Writing is a development process. Both hemispheres of the brain are engaged simultaneously in it.[1][2] Joined together, a 'conversation' takes place between them, a contemplation, widening the writer's perception.

In February 1941, T.S Eliot began work on his poem 'Little Gidding' but with each draft became increasingly dissatisfied. He understood that the problems he was having were with himself not with the poem, so in September he stopped writing altogether,[3] finishing the poem a year later. Despite his skills or because of them, for him too, writing was a journey.

[1] Left hemisphere speech: 'Parts of the brain involved in speech', healthline.com, May 2019, retrieved: 5 Jan 2022.

[2] 'Writing with the right hemisphere', Steven, Rapcsak, Pelagie, Beeson, and Rubens, Nov 1991, in 'Brain and Language', Elsevier.

[3] 'Little Gidding' by T.S Eliot, 1942, published in: 'Four Quartets'.

©  2018-2022,  robin greaves
phoenix change

comment: *

subject: *

name: *