March 2006


“In due course of time, when the body becomes old and practically invalid, it is subject to jara, the sufferings of old age. There are four basic kinds of suffering — birth, old age, disease and death. No scientist or philosopher has ever been able to make a solution to these four miserable conditions. The invalidity of old age known as jara is figuratively explained here as the daughter of Time. No one likes her, but she is very much anxious to accept anyone as her husband. No one likes to become old and invalid, but this is inevitable for everyone…”

SB 4.27.19

My wife is gone this weekend to the Indiana gourd Show, about 6-7 hours from here, to sell her crafted gourds. We have been going to that show for more than 10 years. We have also been going to the Ohio Gourd Show for about 15 years. Over that time, we have become friends with a lot of other gourd crafters and raw gourd sellers who are regulars at the two shows. Even only seeing them twice a year, over time, a sort of community of gourders has developed. They are generally very nice people, more mode of goodness types, tend to be religious, no intoxication, all that. Even a few other vegetarians, and the gourd banquets they have usually have a vegetarian option. Salt of the earth types.

I don’t have the juice to go much anymore, so my wife has been going to Indiana alone for the last few years. We have a friend there who is a vegetarian so they set up next to each other and watch each other’s booths if one steps away for a while. There are lots of interesting things to see so they take turns during slow times looking around at the other booths. They also share a motel room to save on expenses. This makes my being there less necessary. I have still been going to the Ohio show, and the gourders know me, so they are aware of my condition.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise to my wife when she arrived at the show to set up, and one of our friends, Helen, came up to her and very compassionately said, “I am sorry to hear that Mark (that’s me) passed.” My wife was a little puzzled and said “What?” to which Helen replied, “He passed away.” Somehow, the rumor had started and gone all around that I had died.

My wife was quite amused by this, probably not the reaction most people would have expected. We do have a sort of running gag about dying, gallows humor as it is called, that may seem a little odd or even callous to others, and this fit right in. When I called her at the motel tonight, we had a good chuckle about it. I told her to tell people tomorrow the famous Mark Twain quote, “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

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“While in the water they sometimes formed one circle and sometimes many circles, and while in the water they used to play cymbals and imitate the croaking of frogs…”

Madhya 14.77

The frogs in the silted in stock pond down below our house have been croaking the last few days. They came out of the mud the first time in the middle of March during a brief warmup, but then the temperature dropped and has been pegged at about 10 degrees (6 deg C) below normal until recently so they went silent. So this is the second time they are croaking. According to the oldtimers, when the frogs have croaked three times, spring will have arrived. Which is about right, as we will probably get another bit of weather cold enough to quiet them up before winter finally concedes.

The forsythia showed color the first time they sang, even some odd blooms, then went into like a freeze frame until this warmup where they are bursting into full bloom. The early daffodils are blooming as well, and life is stirring all around.

Normally I would be hauling compost into my garden with my truck, and finishing up replenishing the woodpile so next winter’s fuel would be fully cured by the time it will be needed. Not this year– in fact, I just donated the truck to ISCOWP, the Krsna centered cow protection program that is located a mile out the private lane that passes through my land. It needs a bit of maintenance to get it into good operating condition. Since I don’t have the money to do so, can’t really use it anyway, and the cost of keeping it insured is not going to be recovered operating it, it was only my sentimental attachment that was lobbying to keep it. It is so bound up with my previous personna that giving it up is both literally and symbolically closing a chapter in my life.

Plus, since my wife has been pushing to get more of the garage space to use for her gourd business, all the stars were lined up against me.

:-)

It began at dawn with fighter planes:
they came in off the sea and didn’t rise,
they leaped the sandbar one and one and one
coming so fast the crockery they shook down
off my kitchen shelves was spinning in the air
when they were gone.

They came in off the sea and drew a wave
of lagging cannon-shells across our roofs.
Windows spat glass, a truck took sudden fire,
out leaped the driver, but the truck ran on,
growing enormous, shambling by our street-doors,
coming and coming …

By every right in town, by every average
we knew of in the world, it had to stop,
fetch up against a building, fall to rubble
from pure force of burning, for its whole
body and substance were consumed with heat
but it would not stop.

And all of us who knew our place and prayers
clutched our verandah-rails and window-sills,
begging that truck between our teeth to halt,
keep going, vanish, strike … but set us free.
And then we saw the wild boys of the street
go running after it.

And as they followed, cheering, on it crept,
windshield melting now, canopy-frame a cage
torn by gorillas of flame, and it kept on
over the tramlines, past the church, on past
the last lit windows, and then out of the world
with its disciples.

“It can be said that a person sitting in his car is certainly different from his car, but if there is damage to the car, the owner of the car, being overly attached to the car, feels pain. Actually, the damage done to the car has nothing to do with the car’s proprietor, but because the proprietor has identified himself with the interest of the car, he feels pleasure and pain connected with it…”

SB 5.10.22

Today I emptied out my truck, my ugly little truck that I have been driving for 11 years, and dug the title paper out of the files. It is a 1986 Mazda B2000. When I first got it, I could haul 3 devotee kids, Tulasi included, in the little seats in the extended part of the cab and another in the front seat on the way to soccer practice. Now, they’ve grown, and only one of them would be uncomfortable and scrunched up back there. I’ve replaced parts on it, done really bad body work on it – like pop riveting pieces of tin in rusty holes, and wire brushing and painting little spots of beginning rust. It was a beige truck at birth, so I would find a can of spray paint as close as possible, and spray it where needed. It is surprising how many different shades of tan and beige there are. Over the years it has began to resemble desert camouflage.

One of the spots I had to clean up and paint is a slight dent in the front left quarter panel above the wheel well. I was teaching Marken how to drive a stick shift. We were in a pasture gathering firewood and on his way out going up an incline he spun the wheels and killed it. In order to get another run at it, I had him back down to a level spot to get more momentum to so we could overcome gravity before it had a chance to lose traction. On the way down, he was only looking backwards, the direction he was heading, and swung the front end of the truck into a utility pole. It wasn’t enough to effect a safety inspection, and since it was only cosmetic, I cleaned up the loose paint and got out the spray can. Remember him whenever I happen to notice the dent.

I took out the tools that I have been hauling around all these years. The hammer, the little toolbox with the basics plus some fencing staples for emergency repairs, a fold up pruning saw, a hand pruners, tape measure and a Wonder Bar for prying and removing nails. I carried a set of jumper cables, a nylon towrope, some coiled regular rope, cloth rags and some garbage bags. In the glove box I kept band-aids, matches, air pressure gauge and latex gloves in case I came up on an accident.

By now you may have guessed I will be returning to this theme of my truck but enough for today.

“In technological society, in which the means of communication and signification have become fabulously versatile, and are at the point of an even more prolific development, thanks to the computer with its inexhaustible memory and its capacity for immediate absorption and organization of facts, the very nature and use of communication itself becomes unconsciously symbolic. Though he now has the capacity to communicate anything, anywhere, instantly, man finds himself with nothing to say.

Not that there are not many things he could communicate, or should attempt to communicate. He should, for instance, be able to meet with his fellow man and discuss ways of building a peaceful world. He is incapable of this kind of confrontation. Instead of this, he has intercontinental ballistic missiles which can deliver nuclear death to tens of millions of people in a few moments. This is the most sophisticated message modern man has, apparently, to convey to his fellow man. It is, of course, a message about himself, his alienation from himself, and his inability to come to terms with life.”

Thomas Merton, 1915 – 1968

(I realize this wouldn’t have a broad appeal, but I am amused by it so please indulge me. Click at bottom of post to see the whole thing. P is a stand in for any premise someone is trying to prove.)

Proofs that p

Davidson’s proof that p:
Let us make the following bold conjecture: p

Wallace’s proof that p:
Davidson has made the following bold conjecture: p

Grunbaum:
As I have asserted again and again in previous publications, p.

Putnam:
Some philosophers have argued that not-p, on the grounds that q. It would be an interesting exercise to count all the fallacies in this “argument”. (It’s really awful, isn’t it?) Therefore p.

Rawls:
It would be nice to have a deductive argument that p from self- evident premises. Unfortunately I am unable to provide one. So I will have to rest content with the following intuitive considerations in its support: p.

Unger:
Suppose it were the case that not-p. It would follow from this that someone knows that q. But on my view, no one knows anything whatsoever. Therefore p. (Unger believes that the louder you say this argument, the more persuasive it becomes).

Katz:
I have seventeen arguments for the claim that p, and I know of only four for the claim that not-p. Therefore p.

Lewis:
Most people find the claim that not-p completely obvious and when I assert p they give me an incredulous stare. But the fact that they find not-p obvious is no argument that it is true; and I do not know how to refute an incredulous stare. Therefore, p.

Continued

Fodor:

My argument for p is based on three premises:
1. q
2. r
and
3. p

From these, the claim that p deductively follows. Some people may find the third premise controversial, but it is clear that if we replaced that premise by any other reasonable premise, the argument would go through just as well.

Sellars’ proof that p:
Unfortunately limitations of space prevent it from being included here, but important parts of the proof can be found in each of the articles in the attached bibliography.

Earman:
There are solutions to the field equations of general relativity in which space-time has the structure of a four- dimensional Klein bottle and in which there is no matter. In each such space-time, the claim that not-p is false. Therefore p.

Goodman:
Zabludowski has insinuated that my thesis that p is false, on the basis of alleged counterexamples. But these so- called “counterexamples” depend on construing my thesis that p in a way that it was obviously not intended — for I intended my thesis to have no counterexamples. Therefore p.

Outline Of A Proof That P (1):
Saul Kripke
Some philosophers have argued that not-p. But none of them seems to me to have made a convincing argument against the intuitive view that this is not the case. Therefore, p.
_________________
(1) This outline was prepared hastily — at the editor’s insistence — from a taped manuscript of a lecture. Since I was not even given the opportunity to revise the first draft before publication, I cannot be held responsible for any lacunae in the (published version of the) argument, or for any fallacious or garbled inferences resulting from faulty preparation of the typescript. Also, the argument now seems to me to have problems which I did not know when I wrote it, but which I can’t discuss here, and which are completely unrelated to any criticisms that have appeared in the literature (or that I have seen in manuscript); all such criticisms misconstrue my argument. It will be noted that the present version of the argument seems to presuppose the (intuitionistically unacceptable) law of double negation. But the argument can easily be reformulated in a way that avoids employing such an inference rule. I hope to expand on these matters further in a separate monograph.

Routley and Meyer:
If (q & not-q) is true, then there is a model for p. Therefore p.

Plantinga:
It is a model theorem that p -> p. Surely its possible that p must be true. Thus p. But it is a model theorem that p -> p. Therefore p.

Chisholm:
P-ness is self-presenting. Therefore, p.

Morganbesser:
If not p, what? q maybe?


Luke 9:62 (NEB) To him Jesus said, “No one who sets his hand to the plow and then keeps looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Well, I don’t know about entering the kingdom, or Vaikuntha as some call it. I will probably have to get a mercy exemption. I do know about plowing. I used this metaphor to explain to the psychiatrist at UPMC that if I commit to the transplant process, I will adhere to all the post operative protocols

The thing with plowing is all the decisions and research is done before plowing begins. What to plant, where to plant it, when in theory, and when the soil conditions are right to actually plow. Getting your source of traction, type of plow, sufficient fuel – all those things.

Once you start though, as you make the first pass, in order to get a straight furrow (which has practical value, and is a point of honor amongst farmers), you can’t look back. You totally have to focus on lining up and looking forward. You need to be totally committed.

From personal experience, I grew up on tractors rather with animal traction, and plowed fields 1/2 mile long. The land had been divided into grids prior to settlement so it is very orderly. We would pace in from one side of the field and set a flag you could see from the other end, then go there and pace in an equal amount. This would be the starting point. Once you started, any lack of focus would turn into a wiggle in the furrow. You would line up the radiator cap at the front of the tractor with the flag and totally keep them in alignment the entire way.

Another problem is curvature of your eyeball — you don’t see the flag where it actually is. Even if you keep the cap and flag lined up, at the end of the field, you will see a smooth, but slightly curved furrow.

In order to keep a straight furrow, you would pick a third point, on the horizon, and keep all three points aligned. If you did this, as you plowed through the field, you would find yourself seemingly constantly making incremental changes to keep the 3 points in alignment, but at the end, the furrow would be straight.

You couldn’t look back, both from the aspect of not being able to unplow a field, and the straightness of the plowing. Agricultural concepts are alien to modern cultures, so this may be theoretical to most, but in Jesus’ time, people understood his meaning. In the devotee’s cosmology, Balarama carries a plow, and the bull, who pulls the plow, is Dharma.

We need to pay close attention to our daily lives, the immediacy of where we are. We also should keep in mind that which is front of us, both within our lives (the flag at the other end of the field) and our relationship to God and broader society, the point on the horizon.

Chaits sent a link to a band’s website. They will be playing at the Kulimela June 16 – 18. They were raised in New Vrindavan, though they haven’t lived here for quite some time.

http://ghostbrothers.com

I had a follow-up visit in Pittsburgh at UPMC yesterday. It was a callback by a psychiatrist. As part of the original 4 day screening, I had had a meeting with one already, and thought it had gone well, so the callback made me nervous. Had I joked around too during the seemingly endless stream of interviews representing all the facets of the transplant team? Had I talked too much about the temporary nature of the body? Was it something I said about having lived a full life and everything from here out was just extra anyway?

Actually, it was none of that. Turns out it was a routine callback that most patients get, they just hadn’t mentioned it was going to happen. It was mainly about compliance with postoperative protocols. Not treating infections casually, immediately reporting any change in status, coming in for all the follow-up blood work. That sort of thing; especially important was taking all the pills as scheduled. For the rest of a transplant patient’s life, really, adherence is not option. Since livers are scarce, they don’t want to waste one on somebody who will lose determination. They didn’t say that about the scarce livers, but for every 4 patients who come off the list by getting a transplant, 1 goes off by the sould leaving the body while waiting and not receiving one. so it is easy to read between the lines. Of course, all my readers are registered donors, right?

Anyway, not much I can do about supply. (Irony alert! Irony alert!) Though getting involved in a group working for the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws could help, assuming they get what they want.

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