You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
I don't have an issue with Hawking's science. I don't have a problem with his beliefs. It troubles me when people of faith attack his ideas because they don't agree with them.
I'm not crazy about the "fairy story" comment, however, because it demeans a whole class of people. I don't like it when politicians do it. And I am equally upset when it is done by prominent non-believers. Although I do understand why they do it -- there's a lot of anti-intellectual bias rampant in many religious circles.
There are many times when I rant about the weird triumphalism of American political life, with its tendency to embrace forms of red-necked bigotry. Just get away from here for a while, and read foreign papers, and you can see how small our lens is -- as I am reminded by my Americans friends who live abroad.
But, since I am not living abroad I also look for places where I can join forces with others. There is so much to be done right here, right now, that allowing our beliefs to divide us when there is so much to be accomplished seems wrong.
I come from a family largely of agnostics and atheists (though for centuries we had rabbis on one side). People of faith, like me, are remarkable simply because somehow we mutated from devoutly skeptical branches of our family tree.
But no one in my family ever mocked me for what I believe. No one ever refused to talk to me. No one disowned me. No one, at least to my knowledge, disrespected my intelligence.
We love each other. And what we share is more important to us than what divides us.
It was only when I left the nest that I realized how rare that kind of tolerance is. But I will keep on raising that standard --
I will look for kindred spirits who share similar beliefs. I will, as Hawking suggests, try to make my work on earth meaningful.
And occasionally, I will surrender to profound pessimism about human collaboration -- and put my head on my desk, and let the tears flow. Giving in to pessimism, long-term, however -- not an option. Not for a Jackson. We are tougher than that -- or maybe more foolish. At any rate, if I'm going down on a ship, I want to be with the kind fools, however misguided we might be.
samedi, mai 21, 2011
vendredi, mai 20, 2011
jeudi, mai 19, 2011
n a rational, left-brain dominated culture such as ours, where opportunities for transformative, visionary experiences are limited (and are even consciously suppressed by some individuals and institutions), love and addiction have become two of the most common vehicles of modern life for experiencing powerful, ecstatic, altered states of consciousness, temporarily removing us from the mundane routines of everyday life and seemingly opening up powerful new dimensions of reality and possibility. With addictions, of course, these new dimensions turn out to be wisps of smoke, mirrors and illusion, as the reality of the addiction eventually crashes down upon the user's life. And even with love, which has its own set of illusions and tricks, we can start out by honoring a strong, compelling inner pull yet end up in pain and isolation.
Together, however, love and addiction are an even more dangerous combination, feeding multiple illusions and fantasies about who we are and what we are capable of. The dynamic duo of denial and discounting of negative consequences can help us rationalize any unhealthy situation. We may reframe a desire to constantly be with our partner as finally having met our true soul mate. We may rationalize our isolation and avoidance of others as a need to deepen our connection. While our egos may tell us that we are genuinely in love, in reality we may be in need, in lust or in addiction.
mercredi, mai 18, 2011
mardi, mai 17, 2011
lundi, mai 16, 2011
If we all agreed on life's big questions?