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“River of Light” an Art-prize 2013 Exhibit

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“River of Light” is a colorful, flowing, prismatic light exhibit. This is accomplished by reflecting digitally projected light off pieces of heat-deformed plexi-glass panes; which, when rotated, casts an artful cyclical light effect. In addition, a customized music track shifts in ambiance as subtle color shifts ensue. I have applied this art-form to room sized spaces in the past–(see youtube videos below). My goals for a 2013 exhibit would be threefold. One, to garner an enclosed (dark) venue space with large walls. Two, cast the light effect so it is a great deal larger than in previous exhibits by using more plexi-glass and digital projectors. Three, allow spectators to move in and out of the exhibit at their own pace, take their time and absorb the art, so they may become hypnotized by its flowing movement.

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My name is Brent Saulic. Email: brentsaulic@yahoo.com. You can find me on Linked-In. I am a business minded designer/artist, and easy to get along with. The prismatic light path needs to be customized to the venue space–it takes some creativity. Setup may take anywhere from 3-10 hours depending upon the constraints (sound and spatial) I am working with. I’ll consider an outdoor space if it has power, is secure, enclosed and dark. I prefer a walled space, but if you have an dark unconventional space in mind I can work with that too. To ensure spectator safety, walk path space of exhibit may need to be dimly lit. I plan on spending $800 on materials–a cost which which will chiefly consist of buying large panes of plexiglass to hang. I will be utilizing my own computer and projector; however, I would prefer a venue patron who is willing to lend additional resources, like additional projectors, which greatly enhance the visual strength of the effect.

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The Mack Within?

Generally I don’t read dating books but I was interested by the books flashy bold cover. African Americans generally use the word “Mack”, as an euphemism for people who seem to be the Don Wons of the Black community.  I thought I was in store for alot of stereotypes and sexist stories, but was pleasantly surprised to find orderly and rational argument in the books pages. The author, Tarik Naheed, makes some great points about dating and building a relationship with a woman.  In his book “The Mack Within”, he teaches the basics, as devised by a season player, himself a professional “Mack”.  He defines two types of mentalities when dealing with females, that of a “Mack” and a “Trick”.  He describes this in essence as a Mack being a “player”, or a trick having to “pay her”—a play on words.  It points to the assumption women think males owe them something for sex.  That sex is all women needs to bring to the table in a relationship.  This is a misconception Mr. Nasheed attempts to break his reader’s mentality of in the book.   He states that this is an unacceptable position and role—that one must refuse to engage in.  He states some important maxims which I will paraphrase below.

First your socio-economic status plays into it:

Focus on establishing you job and living conditions first—it will greatly affect the types of woman you can encounter and choose from.  If your status and personality doesn’t work on a female—don’t waste your time trying to win her over—find a better match. Your demeanor should change to fit the kind of woman you encounter.  With some women you have to be serious, teacher, witty—it has to be able to flow.

You are trying to get elected, and will eventually be elected, if you do it right:

You have to put yourself in the position to be chosen by females. Some women are aggressive others are subtle.  Some might come to you with a compliment; others will give you a glance or seductive stare.

Get over the fear of being dissed by a female.  Although it messes with your ego and hurts your confidence a bit, the likelihood is small if your conversation is in order.  First focus only on your positive attributes your strengths. (Height weight age and financial status)  Don’t let your weaknesses keep you from trying.  Be tactful, appropriate, tone down the boldness.

You must mingle.  Start off harmless and unthreatening. Ask them how they are. Ask them how they are doing.  Ask them for assistance.  Ask them about themselves or their background places they’ve been. Listen with your eyes and ears, monitor their vibe.  Really take the time to observe their body language. Be responsive and thoughtful.  Wait till her defenses are down and she is comfortable with you.

Then ask her about herself.  If she is receptive then you may flirt and giver her compliments.  But don’t show blatant interest or strong desire for a female you just met.  Wait on her to give you the reason to want to take it to the next level.  She will want to touch you or compliment or ask about you.  Ask her if she is single.  If she seems nice— take charge instruct her to exchange numbers. “Let’s exchanges numbers, talk some more, maybe plan a date.”  Depending on how quickly the interaction needs to happen, the faster you need to rush the process.

Use females at work as matchmakers—don’t try to hit on them while they are working always after work.  Strip clubs have women who are trying to hustle you.

Know your own value, value yourself. 

Let her, or anyone know you are in demand.  This makes you appear more valuable.  Don’t seem overly eager though.

Have integrity, be trustful, this will enhance your overall reputation and character.

Man doesn’t need to prove his dominance all the time.

Take pride in your looks.  Trim your hair, were some jewelry or a nice watch, buy some nice clothes and shoes.

Don’t run silly errands for females—refuse; unless she does the same for you!!

As a man your value increases with time.

Always let females know you have options.  Don’t let them feel they have a monopoly on you or they will step all over you.  She will lose respect and degrade you.  You must let her know that she is not doing you a favor by being in the picture, she can be replaced.   Especially if you got a good job and dress nice.  Snagging you from potential other women gratifies a women’s ego.

You must accept when something isn’t working.

Never chase or try to wear down a female.  Don’t waste energy, change up your tactics or move on in short order.   Sometimes you have to move out of your area, or frequent new venues to meet more women.

Don’t let a female disrespect go unchecked:

Don’t let a female disrespect you, pit you against another man, or make you give them excessive gifts in exchange for sex.  Quickly dismiss anyone who does not approach you with respect.    You must demand respect at al times.  Don’t put anyone else down, be disrespectful, or hate on others either.

Remember to Keep up your standards be selective, what can she bring to the table:

What else can she bring to the table than sexual satisfaction?  What can she bring to the table?  What is the incentive for you to be in a relationship with her—not including sex?  If there are a lot of incentives, other than sex, then she earns the right to a relationship with you.  You have to break the old fashion mentality that sex is all women needs to bring to the table in a relationship—that is the least and easiest thing.  It is not good criteria for awarding someone a relationship with you.  Don’t worry about jeopardizing your chance to have sex, you need to have confidence to have it on your terms with good women—not losers or users.  Don’t lower your standards and be with a loser women.  Keep your standards up.

 

You must be sexually disciplined—put your dick in your pockets:

Being disciplined about sex can be psychologically draining. You cannot be sexually promiscuous and disciplined—you have to choose one and sacrifice the other.  Your goal is to keep control over your actions, and not be manipulated by sex.   Always treat having sex with women—as though it has no value.   Refuse to let sex control your life!  Gain pleasure by controlling the urges.

You must be bold in your decisions.

Try not to appear unsure and indecisive—appear confident by being bold and creative.  Boldness can trumpt logic at times.  Take people opinions into consideration don’t worry about being an asshole.

 

Have her invest in you:

It doesn’t matter how much you spend on her she either likes you or doesn’t like you.  Wherever you take her she will either like you or not—the location and price doesn’t matter.    Independent females should have some money. A woman who likes you will pay for your company.  Therefore have her take you out and invest in you.  When a female is required to invest in you she wants a payoff, usually commitment.  You must establish early on that a female must bring something else to the table.  You must have her do things for you, other than sex.  You must have her earn your affection.  Sex is her reward.  Never let women use sex as a bargaining chip—if she does she will start to view you as a trick.  You must not be a man who can be manipulated sexually.  You are not trying to pay for sex, or hustle for free sex—you are trying to provide “companionship” to her.  She must earn sexual and psychological gratifications from you.  You’re not trying to impress her, you’re not sure if you want her on your team.

  Assume women under the age of 27 have significant others:

They are either already dating or having sexual relationships with others.  Women like having other men lined up, in case a relationship fails.  Women have a primal need for security and sexual gratification.

 

User your strengths and keep your mouth shut to leverage mystery:

Use absence to increase desire—never become too familiar or predictable.  The less you say about yourself the more a woman can project her fantasy and desires on to you.  Familiarity breeds contempt—people will attribute their own failures, shortcomings onto other around them.

Conclusions?  If you look over some of the “Pimp” mentality he expouses, you can gleam the subtle arguments he is making about women and men.  I think his points are well rounded and valid stratedgies for less seasoned daters.  In all this is a “Good Ass Book” on getting your mind right for dating.

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The Fundamentals of the Dying Sun

PREFACE WARNING:This is a long unedited essay that is not in a final definitive form. Although most of it is fleshed out I have yet to finish large swaths of it.  I go back and forth editing its content and meaning.  It is meant to be a philosophic introduction to New-Life Naturalism. An proactive form of Pantheism that takes a contemporary religious stance. Image

An Introduction to the Dying Sun:

Let every notion, that the Sun will thrive forever, die. Let the belief in the Sun’s immortal being fall away from our minds. The intense heat and light it gives out so freely now will dim, and at some future point the star that supported us and our ancestors for countless generations will fade into something else entirely. We know this by observing the other stars in our universe meeting similar fates. It is a natural end, not at all a unique story to tell. Countless things live and die by the same principle; but in the deep darkness that penetrates around these bright burning things, we find it remarkable that we ourselves are affected and aware of this circumstance. In a strange trance brought about by these musings we might come to compare our own mortalities, our lives, to those momentous stars and wonder as to our purpose for being. We walk into those inevitable and ancient questions. Why are we here? What value is there to our lives? What value is there to our living, or the sun‘s burning, or the universe existing? How can we live and die without fully understanding the fundamental purpose of our being, the fundamental purpose of the dying sun?

In attempting to answer these questions I think it is important not to extend beyond the realm of the apparent and observable. To speculate or hypothesize beyond the scope of our mortalities would be self-defeating in this regard. To look for answers in other hypothetical planes, beyond the realm of the observable, of the natural; to be un-grounded or unconcerned with this world and context we inhabit would only paint a truth with our own desires, fantasies, and insecurities reflected. It is apparent that it is the natural that binds us to this realm of being, and so in that understanding we should endeavor to frame the fundamentally apparent axioms of our existence, through the senses and experiences we all share and can recognize in the natural.  Yes, of course there are limits to our perspectives, critical failings in thought, feeling, and sense which garble efforts to understand the world clearly. I do not deny these limits, but embrace them, because in their imperfection they give us a perfect context to grow a common understanding from.

And if we are to grow from this philosophical journey we may still need a suitable construct to frame this journey‘s path of thought. If we are truly seeking to understand the “fundamentals of the dying sun” we should symbolize the effort. With this metaphor in mind I have derived an eight point star, a symbolic compass  most suitable in defining our direction and context; as well as illustrating the analogy which invoked this journey–the comparing our own mortalities to that of a dying sun. In keeping with the symbolic representation we should further use its characteristics to hone our thoughts.

There are an infinite number of directions we might wander but should we make it a disciplined effort to refine eight directions, eight fundamental revelations about the purpose of our existence that are apparent and lead us to deeper thoughts.  We should find our thoughts crystalize around this practical number of axioms to build understanding from. In this way we might also begin our journey knowing it too will end in eight axioms, all based on natural and apparent observations, fundamental to our existence.  In accordance, it is also imperative that we use simple and common place analogies when necessary to elaborate on core principles.  Now we may test this assertions logic. Is this analogy true and apparent?With our philosophic strategy now defined we may begin in hopes of gaining those eight focused insights into our fundamental purpose of our being, into the fundamentals of the dying sun.

Fundamental #1

Why are we here? it is one of life‘s biggest mysteries and most epic philosophical questions. The question is often assumed to be unanswerable, as many great minds and belief systems have endeavored to justify life in terms of many things and experiences. Many lifetimes of adventure and toil have en-graved observations into stone and parchment, rendered explanations into poetic last words and cryptic reasons for the folly of it all; but none seem to ever resonate as universally conclusive. To begin let‘s first be clear about some important assumptions built into the question.

In posing this question, I would argue that we are fundamentally accepting three assumptions: firstly, we are assuming that we “exist”, and we are “real”; secondly, it points to the fact that we are aware of existing; and finally, it begets the inherent assumption that we are here for a purpose. Indeed if we did not exist, if we were not real, and completely unaware and purposeless, the question would be seemingly meaningless to pose. In such a case, where one was inclined to principally disagree with these three assumptions, I would argue that they, in effect, would be conceding that there is no real difference between our awareness and nothingness; however, the majority of us should value our lives enough to see the distinction between nothingness and awareness. Any principled effort forward can only be made, if realizing we are aware, we value being aware in spite of the inherent struggle of living. Valuing our awareness is essential to persisting in it. Consequently, this notion points to four assumptions we must make to continue. Fundamental #1: we exist, we are aware of existence, we value our awareness (experience), and our existence is purposeful.

If you come to realized this, then a second stage of thought would kick in and may lead us to conclude that a long time ago some greater beings or being created us and imbued us with this unknown purpose. In doing so we would be walking down the path that laid the foundation for most religious thought; however, by choosing to speculate on something beyond our apparent means to observe, we would also be creating a series of doubts which may come to undermine our journey‘s promise, to stay within the limits of the natural, apparent, and observable.

In the observable world the consequence for the belief or non-belief of gods or a single god would seem to be negligible. I can pair the idea with any form of practical living and be no worse off for it, as long as I did not take on any detrimental rituals—like human sacrifice; and my culture tolerated my differences. Nonetheless, human kind has walked down this road quite a while, and so this ”something created us” has come to dogmatically answer, overshadow, and ignore that original question of, “Why are we here.” An analogy might shed some insight into the pitfalls of this predicament, and so we might find it useful to make our existence and purpose analogous to a tool on a workbench.

The Apparent Analogy #1: The Tool on the Workbench

In this endeavor I will lead us to an empty room which holds a typical workbench of tools. There I will focus our attention on a small tool on that workbench. Could we state conclusively, in a sure way, “who” specifically put this tool on it, before we walked into the room? We can ponder this question quite a while. I might be the prime suspect of course, but you could never be absolutely sure that I didn‘t have someone else do it. You might ask me outright if I put it there, and although I brought your attention to this place, I will not provide an answer; however, at this point someone else might suggest that he, she, they, some natural process, or even a god placed the tool there or guided it into being there. We might continue to speculate on which belief held more weight, but it is sufficient to say we are not in the position to really know something beyond our apparent means to perceive; in this circumstance we could only speculate, only guess and investigate probabilities and folk knowledge. One of your guesses might be right, or none of them.  Having the right answer to the question or deriving your own might be useful, and allow you to complete this exercise  but in any answer there will be a degree of doubt, experience, and personal conviction that will need to be measured. It is a puzzle that has plagued man for centuries. a mental puzzle where ambiguity over comes us and we are made to cope with irrational belief or narrow paradigms which guide us to limit thought on this manner.  And we should. Realizing this insurmountable ambiguity is insolvable from our limited perspectives, we defer this problem to the religiouly minded and philosphers among us to frett about for a lifetime; while we continue with our practical lives.

But what if we realized we made a mistake in thinking this way? Maybe it‘s an error of thought to be fixated on the “whom created it” when our goal is to understand its purpose for being. Although we may never be able to answer conclusively who or what put this tool on the workbench, we may become enlightened as to why it was put there by being observant of its properties, how it is used, how it‘s not used, what effects it inspires in its environment, and what benefits it garners us.  Fundamentally we can only be assured that it exists and it must exist for some purposes, and we can further assume those purposes are what compels it to be on this workbench. If it is indeed purposeful, its intrinsic value should be apparent in its being used, not in speculating upon who created it or did not create it.

I would argue that the purpose of the tool, its properties, its relations, and usefulness, is what compelled someone or inspired some process to place it on that workbench. In the same way, I would argue, knowing ―what created us should not become more important than fundamentally understanding our inherent purposes and fulfilling those purposes, because if our existence is purposeful, then those purposes compel us to be here and sustain our being here.

Fundamental #2

If we recognize the inherent error of being fixated on the “whom created us,” we find ourselves back at the original supposition, “Why are we here?” Well the most obvious answer to the question is that our parents are responsible, our ancestors. In this we would be right in many respects; their choices did spawn us; however, in a broader sense, our parents did not choose to exist either. So a better question arises, what purpose compels us to be here? I don‘t ever remember asking to exist, or being given a choice whether to be born. So then, what compels me with purpose? I would argue we can render this down conclusively to one very broad actor, Life itself.

I need only ask you to feel the pulsing of our heartbeats to assure you that there is purpose in our lives. Even if we fail to fully value that purpose, we cannot pull ourselves from those primal purposes which constitute us. We can ignore them, take them for granted, but never excise our separation from them without separating the awareness we value. Therefore, we might act and think ourselves purposeless, while in fact we are linked to so many automatic and critical purposes that support us, that even in our purposelessness, we are purposeful.

Life compelled us all to be here, life forms bear us and rear us, many lifecycles and webs of life sustain us on this world; its complex processes nurture us, its adaptations protect us, and continually sustain our forms of existence at any given moment. Unless I do something to harm myself, my heart will continue to beat without my permission, pumping blood through my body, lungs pulling oxygen from the air and depositing it into my bloodstream – both are important parts of this visible container of a vastly complex intricate effort called Life.

The Apparent Analogy #2: The Cup of Water

There are many definitions for life. What it constitutes and what qualifies, but inherently no matter what container I pour water in, it is undoubtedly still water. So too Life and its properties exhibit a similar circumstance. No matter what structure it is made, what form it holds, or cycles of elements it uses to regenerate that form, we know and recognize the inherent qualities and compulsions are similar in all life. The waters of life, and the myriad forms which contain it, are diverse and sometimes radically different, but fundamentally we understand the machinations behind those forms are the same. Although we are biased toward our own form of living we can recognize that the essence of life is formless. The countless manifestations are variations of the same underlying theme that compels us all to be here and connects us. Consequently, this notion points to a second apparent disposition. Fundamental #2: A formless effort of awareness and stored experience called Life compels us to be here,  and provides the context which connects everything (other life and physical existence). 

Fundamental #3

Well thank you, Mr. Obvious, “Mother Nature” made us and connects us but it does not explain the “why”. What is Life‘s purpose then? Why does it do it, why did it bring me here? To dig deeper we will need to elaborate our disposition with another analogy and define two apparent aspects of life that compel us all be here, and its relation to our minds and bodies.

The Apparent Analogy #3: The Goldfish Bowl

Like us, a goldfish may one day come to pose the same questions about its life while living in its watery glass container. In its philosophical anguish, the goldfish may frantically examine every facet of its world for evidence of purpose, exploring its heights and depths, examining itself thoughtfully through the reflections of the glass. After becoming quite knowledgeable, he may even become aware of the possibility of leaving its home, and by using those things afforded to it, flip out of his container; however, upon landing outside it will encounters a grizzly reality.

Without its container to protect it, or water to breathe, the fish languishes, its life slowly dims, its jerks and spasms cease; in these final moments, as the darkness creeps in on it, the fish might realize the gift and the truly remarkable circumstance of its glass bowl. Then a moment passes when all the functions of its life stop and it becomes completely unaware of itself; eventually with time its body will fade into dust. However, I am not one to kill-off our curious friend to make this point, and so I will place the goldfish back into his fish bowl. After a time, he stirs with life again and becomes aware. To us it would seem that the purpose of the glass bowl is to preserve life, to be out of this bowl is to cease to be aware. So too with us it is fundamentally apparent that we cannot separate ourselves from Life‘s functions and cycles without losing awareness. This leads me to a third apparent realization. Fundamental #3: Our self-awareness is preserved and dependent upon life and its patterns of connection.  

Now we may test this assertions logic. Is this analogy true and apparent? Can something be self-aware but not be supported by life‘s functions? Well, if I stop my heart from pumping, can I still be aware? For a time, but soon I will fade into unconscious-ness. If I stop my lungs from breathing oxygen can I still be aware? For a time, but soon I will fade into unconsciousness. What if I cut my arm off? People have been known to lose limbs and still be self-aware and active. It would seem some life functions are more important than others in preserving awareness; but in the case when vital life functions retard or are damaged beyond repair, it is apparent and inevitable that that a life cycles and awareness will cease to be.

Then one might ask, “Can something be alive but not self-aware?” I find myself in this predicament every night I go to bed; long spans of time seem to elapse in non-awareness, but as long as I am connected to life through its processes built into me, as long as those functions persist, I can awaken back into awareness. Again this is a very obvious predicament, but fundamentally it represents the fact that self-awareness is preserved and dependent upon life and its cycles. There can be no separating our awareness from life, without losing that awareness of being.

Ideas and investmeants.

Fundamental #4

Here you may argue an obvious limit of analogy #3. When the goldfish dies, the container no longer preserves life and the analogy becomes empty and irrelevant. In other words, I could say that with my death, life’s purpose becomes empty and irrelevant; and to many it would seem that way: what is the purpose of Life when it all if it all just ends?  Well, this is a valid point.

The Apparent Analogy #4: The Growing Goldfish Bowl

This is where the metaphor breaks down if it is not expanded into time, so we will add another goldfish; and wait a couple weeks and “tada” we have a third goldfish. Wait many more years, and undoubtedly the two original goldfish have died but we should be left with many more goldfish and are going to need a bigger bowl. It seems that a very fundamental part of life is its persistence and growth. That even in death the original goldfish‘s form of life and experience persist through its creative renewal of offspring. Apparently then, the purpose of the goldfish bowl is to preserve and expand upon and renew its self. So too, an apparent purpose of Life seems to be to preserve and expand upon life, upon itself; and for this apparent cause, it has brought us all into being, encouraged diverse forms, and has granted us awareness in this effort.

This persistence and growth is not easy; it can be a very desperate game of survival, full of pain and strife. Our form of life is a testament to this creative desperation; it is apparent when we look into the mirror and see a form with eyes, nose, mouth, ear, hands, feet – all very creative solutions to practical problems of living. Take a step outside and you will see a rather diverse array of plants, animals, people, and insects, all with their own creative niche that sustains their awareness. This is not a perfect process, but it is a process that attempts to become more perfected within its context over time. Some have label this “evolution”, I would deflate the word in favor of the term “ purposeful changes over time”, and emphasis the apparent fact that, in the sometimes desperate effort to exist, life forms will change, adapt, and be forced into diversification of experience in order to survive their surroundings and circumstances.  This diversification of experience and subsequently physical being; may leads us to an apparent fourth realization.  Fundamental #4: The purpose of Life is a creative effort to persist, preserve, and expand upon life (awareness & experience) in diverse forms.

I am more. human hunger for more knowledge, for more life, for more everything.  Its a constant stuggle with our own compusions for growth, and where stagnation occurs adversity is bread. Like the sun we must accept death and control these compuolsions.

Fundamental #5:

In our philosophic journey thus far we have defined the primary compulsions which serve to constitute and compell our awareness.  We have obtained a measure of philosophical consistency in this process of thought in stating plainly the apparent purposes that persist our being. Yet, there is a seemingly self serving paradox in our reasons for existing thus far. We have not defined the apparent reasoning for our existence beyond that of the intrinsic goals of life. Surely, life could not have willed itself into being by its own self serving merits alone; greater orders of magnitude must be at work, which much lend life domain in this context?  A thing cannot will itself into existence. Existence is full of contrasts and imbalances which perpetuate actions and patterns-but a pattern cannot originate itself from nothing?

If indeed Life is a purposeful endeavor, its purpose and value should extended beyond itself and be of consequence to greater orders of magnitude, outside its-self, should it not?  If we assume life is granted domain by this relation to greater orders, we should find a more broader value to life cycles in relation it its environment. If Life plays a role of greater consequence we must further refine its affects and relations to make it apparent. It will become essential for us to revisit analogy #1, the tool on the workbench, and expand upon it to develop a better understanding of the relationship between life and its broader environment.

The Apparent Analogy #5: The Uncaring Workbench

If I am to imagine myself as a craftsman set upon using Life as a tool to leverage a greater end, what broader use could life afford me? In Life we have a formless tool that is good at replicating itself, protecting its self, preserving awareness of itself, repair its-self  change its-self, and recreating its-self, but what use is it beyond its own interest? It seems like a very selfish tool. Why is it on the workbench? What other tools surround it? Well, metaphorically, what does the workbench represent?  To help understand the broader purpose of the tool, we must undoubtedly try to understand the broader purpose of the workbench. What is the purpose of the workbench? What does life leverage on it?

Human kind has given numerous names to this physical medium that surrounds and constitutes life; the vast spans of matter, energy, and seemingly empty space.  Scientists have studied the natural laws of this physical stuff, identifying many of its unique phases and elemental structures, on very small and large scales.  Philosophers have come to label this myriad totality of physical stuff as part of “metaphysical reality”, a big word; a favorite philosopher of mine, Ayn Rand, often called it “objective reality,” and that has always stuck with me because it highlights an apparent observation we are all likely familiar with, that the “objective nature” of reality has no apparent concern for us.

This “physical stuff” around us, which constitute us, is not concerned with, or affected by, moral judgments or the happenings of our lives.  The apparent nature of our existence forces us to realize our relation to this “physical stuff” in very practical and profound ways: the rumbles of our stomachs, the strength of our shelters, the waters that quench our thirst; however, if I had a hammer in my hand it and dropped it on my foot, the hammer and the natural laws governing it, the materials constituting it, would feel no remorse for my foot being injured. The sun sets, regardless of my concern of being blind in darkness, or my want of warmth.  Nearly every one of us has encountered death, personal agony, or suffering while these momentous waves of matter continue to flow and ebb without regard.  For theses vast seas of matter and energy to exist but be unconcerned with our plight, and indifferent to life, even though we are largely supported and connected by them is a disturbing circumstance.  A paradox of mortal risk that persists to this day. This apparent fact, however disturbing, is indicative of the role of life and draws out an important realization.

Although we could speculate on what or who brought the universe about, it’s undeniable that it is bent on balancing itself.  Vast and intricate ladders of contrast in matter and energy pervade all known existence. Galaxies, forces, energies, matter, planetary rotations, and the roots of flowers–every observed natural phenomenon conveys a sense of balance and imbalance. From these two relative states the material world of atoms and energies dance in a remarkably efficient concert, downstream to lower energy levels and stable patterns reckoned at compromise. In this uncaring physical medium which we find ourselves, all energies and matter are organized, sifted, and pressured into countless forms and phases of physical existence to attain balance and imbalance. Every atom wants to get to its lowest energy state. An item in free-fall wants the support of the ground. Every contrast seeks balance or invokes imbalance. This indifference seems to mock the struggle of all life–reminding us of our insignificance in comparison with this overriding purpose. Consequently, this notion points to an apparent fifth disposition. Fundamental #5: Objective reality has no other purpose than to balance and imbalance those contrast which exists in its-self. 

Fundamental #6:

If the broader orders of objective reality consists of a heartless balancing of contrast–what possible benefit could this broader order garner from life? What possible use could an objective reality have for such a construct, for such a tool, on its otherwise uncaring workbench? Well, from us it must derive something important to it, and it is apparent that balancing contrast is important to it is balance, so from us this broader purpose must derive sorts of balance and imbalance it can utilize and leverage?

The Apparent Analogy #6: The Broader Orders of Balance

If we imagine the workbench we will see stars, solar systems, atoms, molecules, and galaxies all essential tools for resolving balance and  imbalance. While these tools are plentiful and vast and useful, there is a rarer tool that can arise and pervade the atomic, molecular, and grow out in diverse forms to engulf whole planetary environments.  We know this tool to be Life; it is apparent, and we find ourselves living this role by our nature. We connect and leverage many contrast and cycles of balance and imbalane in our living and acting.

From the perspective of analogy#5, the uncaring workbench, life can be considered a very fragile but adaptive tool surrounded by a rather large assortment of dangerous power tools.  Plant life, insect life, human life, and sea life all impose natural balances and imbalances upon energies and materials of objective reality in their respective context. We sift, organize, order, bond, and produce new combinations to suit our needs in curious and sometimes creative ways. In as far as life thrives it thrives because it is managing a creative balance or leveraging an imbalance it can grow from.

It is apparent then, that from life the objective nature of reality derives a broad set of creative balances and imbalances which are enhanced by a persisting awareness. All existence consists of balance and imbalance, and life struggles to leverage these balances and imbalances to preserves and expand upon itself in as many forms it can manage. Beyond its adapted circumstance it is very fragile and has some apparent limitations.  Just as we would not use a hammer to leverage a door open, life (in the forms we know of) cannot garner any meaningful effects of balance and imbalance outside the scope of its planetary scale, and the interdependent networks of life, which requires a wide linkage of biodiversity.

It is important to point out here that although life is useful at deriving creative balances it does not mean the objective nature of reality would overly warrant its favor.  Just as a larger tool might chip away at a smaller tool that it encounters on the workbench, life too is susceptible to the great balances and imbalances that arise in the celestial (solar radiations, comets, asteroids) and planetary scales (weather phenomenon, earthquakes). It is apparent that these greater balances and imbalances take precedence over life.  That’s not to say the tool of life could not be re-adapted over time to meet those circumstances better; it just highlights the fact that the workbench draws favor only to that which can affect greater balance and imbalance. In as far as life thrives it thrives because it is creating and managing balances and imbalances it can nurture, sustain, and grow from. This leads us to an apparent sixth realization. Fundamental #6: From Life the objective nature of reality derives rare and creative forms of contrast. From objective reality life derives a leverage context to persist in broader awareness. 

Fundamental #7: 

So we are confronted by realization that our lives have been brought about by the contrast of the universe, and the persistence of awareness in living things.  It might rationally explain our existence, why we feel compelled to breed, to eat, to persist in our lives. But the axioms don’t clearly articulate our purpose in awareness.  If we value our awareness, we are obliged to preserve and expand that which it rest upon life.  Indeed if this purpose is true, we should find ourselves living this axium by nature.  Do we?  Is it a concious effort, a self serving effort, which leverages contact to harness balances and impallances to expand awareness? Yes, it seems apparent it is. But what of the counter inlinations. Life has cycles of imbalance that mirrors the greater order orders of energy and matter.  Self destructive streaks which constrain its growth and diversification.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________-______This is Where the reasoning Starts to Fall Apart.

Fundamental #7: We are obliged, and have an inherent purpose, to expand awareness and encourage the propagation of life in diverse forms to secure its persistence and perseverance admist perpetual adversity.

The Apparent Analogy #7: The Amoral Domian of life

Life is both selfish and unselfish undertaking. Renewl requires many kinds of death. Whats more life formes can be ruthless and alienating in there dominin and leveraging of contrast for awareness.  Further the conuation of life is a strong instinct built into our awarness.  Is life an aoral stuggle that requires sacrifices of many kinds of life.  Life is both a destroyer and creator, devouring and destroying other weaker forms of life(life that leverages weaker contrasts) to preserve itself.

Is life then an amoral act?  Should I feel remorse, or struggle with concience about killing another lifeform to preserve or ehnance my life? From the foundations of this journey we have layed a ground devoid of moral guidance beyong our own self serving interest to know ourselves and our purpose better.  From the start of this journey it has been our prejudicial perspective we wish to explore. Our form of life is dominant, our domain is vast, our variates are many and scattered across the globe in diverse incarnations.  But ours however vast is but a speck in the diverse and lush bounty of life this world holds and which we use to support that domain.  Like the many tools on a workbench, life too has many different variations.  And we are so fragile, might not think of ourselves as dominate, when specias of virses and pathogens have curtailed lives in great numbers.

Morality only exist where there is mortality, the prospect of death and creative rebirth.  Like the varying magnitudes of existence there are varying magnitudes of Life, contrast leveraged which endow greater propigation and preseverances of some life over others. In this way life is ordered and connected.

As contrast shift it may less favor our specias and aid an other thats better leverage contrasts adapted to the circumstances of awarness on this world.  It is life’s diversity that should cherished, because its web supports and maintains the unique circumstace of our enviorments, and draws out an unbrella which isn so many diverse ways leverages contrast in support of the greatest awareness being acheived.  Competion and dysfunction are as plentiful as cooperation and symbiotic cycles of growth in diverse networks in life–thier morality is mute, thier results inspire balances and imbalances which fluxuated awareness more or less. In our selfserving nature to preserve and expand our awareness, we are inherently concouly or incuoosly preserving and expanding the wareness of others forems of life.  But even in our selfish design and amoral behavior we are fufilling atruistic ends that serve the perseverance and proponderance of life.  However should a species domain be too harmful to the perseverance of life and awareness this specias existence will be in jeapordy too.  As the alienation and extinction of supporting networks and compettion of life can bring about an imbalance which will curtail and inibit the dominate species survivial into te futre as well.  These are apparent cycles which can be observed to happen.

Decadence. Self indulgence leads to corruption.   It allows men to become imbalanced, and trade pleasure for rational growth, fairness with others, and justice in thier dealing.

Fundamental #8: 

To fundentally we must be proactive in understanding life its relations, connections, functions, and commpusions.  The knowledge should be aquied in a way respectful to life and awaness and perpetuation in diverse forms.  It should also be respectful if how we use and apply this knowledge as our limited and prejudical perspective may ignorant and not prone to curosity to straking imbalances we can create by apply this knoeledge.  The only cure to this lies in deivestment in the silf and the material world.  If we can seperate our more imbalanced mental and bodily attachments, invoke greater levels of empathy and creative adabitibility we migtht uncover greater efficenies and symiotic resourse contrast and attain effective balances of growth for our species while mainting greater levels of awareness in diverse forms.  The level of investment in the material, and in our own modes of patterns of thought whill need to develop and evolve in higher rates to accomplish this–especially when facing increasigly complex and challeging circustances.  In this realization it is nesseary to apply the principles of the natual world to our modes of thinking.  And it is here that we must embrace death. For its only in letting go of old ways of tinking and acting new ways can develop. .It allows life to renewal and adaptive in change. Allow yourselves to die. Expands awareness. beyond contracta   is

Fundamental #8: To live morally we must cherish and embrace death and  be willing to voluntarily  sacrifice for life’s sake.  We must be willing to voluntary  sacrife ourselves and our investments to contue and renew life??

No this

Tere was a time it was common for a woman to die in child birth.  We must not value our lives more tan our deaths. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves to see life persist. Every moment we are dying.  Every day we come closer to fading away. In tose moments we can take nothing with us, we fade into ourselves and become forced to embrace the end of life.  All our efforts, accomplishments, ideas, beleifs, persist only in living tings wit mortalities.

Let every notion, that the Sun will thrive forever, die. Let the belief in the Sun’s immortal being fall away from our minds. Let us realize its precious nature is attained by embracing self-destruction. Its character is born of continual sacrifice and self-effacing change. For in this discipline the sun garners continual renewal. And if we are perceptive, in the present moment, we should apply this truth and introduce in ourselves the Dying Sun.

Let the sun continually die in our minds. Know the sun continually dies, and cherish every moment of renewal brought by this death. For in this death burns momentous amounts of matter which radiates for many millions of miles to meet us; bathing us in an energy which in turn renews the earth. Every moment which passes the Sun sacrifices itself, burning off it chaotic plasma swirls–investments of matter boiling for millions of years, searing into wisps of radiant light which fade and flicker away. A momentous and continual death, which once embraced bears a new sun every moment and renders onto us renewal. A rare freedom, the sun will not last forever, nor should it; because its purpose is to burn what it is made of, and eventually collapse in upon itself.  The sun is meant to die.

We must let the sun die in our minds. Imagine every flickering flame wisp away into cold and distant emptiness of space. Be mindful of every moment it serves this nature. Be observant, how it does not wallow in the past, nor hold back its brightness for fear of futures of diming facility. Know the sun rages in continuous writhing change, feeding on the death of every moment before, and surging into every moment thereafter, born anew.

In this realization, highlight the naivety and narrowness of your own thoughts and inclinations. Let all notions and self investments be broken from your mind. Let fleeting moments pass, where you sacrifice your searing thoughts and routine swirls of being. Let them die. Let them die deeply and continually. Let every investment you hold dear, be sacrificed in those moments. Every cherish memory of pain and pleasure, every hope and fear, die. Let even yourself burn away, fade and wander from your mind and body into wisps.

Turn inward and let every aspect of yourself die. Cherish every moment you can keep this state, and embrace that self-sustained death of the self. For in that fleeting moment, you embrace death you are free to change and be renewed. A rare freedom, our lives will not last forever, nor should they; because our purpose is to burn what we are made of, and eventually collapse in upon ourselves. Thhe sun is meant to die. We are meant to die.

Let every notion, that the Sun will thrive forever, die. Let the belief in the Sun’s immortal being fall away from our minds. Let us realize its precious nature is attained by embracing self-destruction. Its character is born of continual sacrifice and self-effacing change. For in this discipline the sun garners continual renewal. And if we are perceptive, in the present moment, we should apply this truth and introduce in ourselves the Dying Sun.

The Apparent Analogy #8: The Sun is meant to die.

new life without sacrifice. There is only one evil wich manifest where there is a lack of self-sacrifice and indulgence in self at the expense of life.  Sould the sun forever burn, and we sould forever live there will be great imbalances wrougt. Where there is no death and no change there can be no renewl.  Where thhere is no renew life decays.  Were there is no new contrasts to leverage or be discovered there is no growth.  In stagnation life eats ways at itself, forcing itself to die.  It is an ending life brings upon itself, for its own sake–the more we figt it the more we extend anguish and taper renewal. Life leverages contrast, when its ability weakens it destroys itself, when it can no longer doo this it dies.  Who ever does not acceppt this is beyond redemption, and will run from the reality of tier purppose. Like a wheel that turns full circles, life is meant to end, to be sacrifeced for greater life. where this challenged greater death will result and less life will be renewed.  We are given a gift and we must give up that gift as freely. dissolution of his individual ego in the Great Sea (remember that opening scene?) becomes an ossified, corrupted entity called a ‘Black Brother’ who can create no new life, and lives on as a sterile, emasculated husk.

Fundamental #1: (I am aware) we exist, we are aware of existence, we value our awareness, and our existence is purposeful.

Fundamental #2: (aware of my connections ) A formless effort of awareness called Life compels us to be here.

 Fundamental #3:( and Investments) Our self-awareness is preserved and dependent upon life and its cycles. Investmeant.  Ideas and patterns. 

Fundamental #4: (I am more than these) The purpose of Life is a creative effort to persist, preserve, and expand upon life (awareness) in diverse forms. I am more. human hunger for more knowledge, for more life, for more everything.

Fundamental #5: (I greater purposes) Objective reality has no other purpose than to leverage (balance and imbalance) those contrast which exists.

Fundamental #6: (I must leverage my connections )From Life the objective nature of reality derives creative forms of contrast to leverage (balance and imbalance) that which exist.

Fundamental #7: (I must let go of my investments) We are obliged, and have an inherent purpose, to expand awareness and encourage the propigation of life in diverse forms to secure its persistence and perseverance admist perpetually changing contrast which exist.

Fundamental #8: (I must alow myself to die) To live morally we must cherish and embrace change for its renewal and adaptive. Allow sacrifice yourselves and our investments. Expands awareness.And fold creative contrasts to the best of life. 

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New-Life Naturalism is a form of Naturalistic Pantheism I’m developing emphasizing a holistic perspective relating to Life and its perseverance. The New-Life Naturalist Assembly (NNA) is a group of pantheist thinkers I’ve charged with crafting the fundamental tenants of this philosophic perspective. The philosophy is meant for the coming generations; who will need it to create more profound balances for life to prosper, and be dedicated in its perseverance.

What defines a new-life naturalist is their innate drive to derive balances for life to prosper.  We have organized the first assembly in Grand Rapids MI to draw in naturalist, agnostics, and pantheist to work toward that end; under a unifying obligation, concern, and “belief in life”.  We will elaborate on naturalist stances hopefully leading to a treatise of principles; and culminating in a nonprofit to lobby and apply those principles; a rather ambitious undertaking but possible taken in small steps, with passionate participants.  If you are an agnostic, pantheist, or naturalist with free time to collaborate in this effort, join us.

Philosophical Objectives.

The primal objective of the New Naturalist Assembly is to assemble a simple, straightforward philosophy of ethics and  morality based on  Life, and a “belief in life”.   This philosophy sets up an inclusive context of faith and belief where everyone, religious and non-religious, are welcome and bound with a common concern and obligation to preserve, balance, and nourish life.   Naturalism manifests itself wherever a living being is forced to analyze and assess the natural world and their disposition in relation to the earth and phenomenon surrounding them. Naturalist attitudes often stagnate during in prosperity, and reemerge when sufficient imbalances arise to warrant more critical examinations of reality, it systems, and their underlying natures. It is the need to understand these underlying principles, to understand the world around us and persist effectively on earth.

In the development of a New Naturalism we might highlight the old tenants and further refine them for its growing future roles.  The New Naturalist’s Argument is an argument for the persistence of life, and the prominence of life over ideology and extremes, by developing balances in ourselves and the observable world. The New Naturalist Assembly will unfold and expand upon the core of the old naturalist philosophies while building an inclusive framework dedicate to the preservation and persistence of life.

Reaffirming the Context of Life.

New Naturalism is a philosophical stance drawn from the realization that the context for all  value judgments and  ethical moral standards, be they  philosophical,  ideological, or  religious, must invariably be based on Life.  If a belief or moral system hampers or degrades life to the point where effective progress in living cannot be maintained, its influence in turn will degrade, be modified, or abandoned. Conversely, if a particular practical moral code is abandoned without regard for its effect on life, this too may hamper life’s progress and the code will likely be reestablished.  All the moral systems that survive into the future persist by serving Life. In this realization we recognize that human beings should judge good and bad based on how those acts and belief effect the life they are connected to, as this is the true context, and natural valid check, of all moral or ethical standards.

Without life, all abstract systems of faith and schemes of belief are useless because they have no context to be manifested from. Without a living being to profess and act in line with a moral standard, the moral standard ceases to exist in reality. In other words, if every human on earth died tomorrow the ideas and systems of thought they carry would have no living medium to survive or act from. Ideas and ideologies only matter because Life gives them a context to act from, so the proper value structure begins with Life first and foremost.

do-you-believe-in-god

How can anyone build any ethics or moral system without an inherent belief in Life?

I started with a question, “Can I build an ethics or morality without a religion, a belief in God, or the supernatural?” In this effort I did not wish to define the whole of reality, nor did I wish to remake the wheel to find my answer; although my initial research spanned over a rather large collection of religious and philosophical thoughts of the past, gradually it was reduced to a handful of what I came to term as the naturalist perspectives. Philosophical Taoism, Western Naturalism, Existentialism, and Objectivism; are all linked by the common notion that morals and beliefs do not have to extend beyond death, to the afterlife, to be valid guides for living.  As I grew familiar with their philosophical precepts I began to naturally relate key ideas between them, and my goal soon became to coalesce these four systems into a one coherent naturalist philosophy that could be an advancement of all four viewpoints. In doing this I hoped to develop an answer to my original question, and garner new and novel insights about the human condition.

However, I soon realized that if I was to paint one coherent picture of existence, and meld these philosophies successfully, I would need several constraints—chief among them was a fixed number of insights to build the structure of the philosophy around. I chose eight, based on the symbol of a compass—a symbolic metaphor for guidance. Thereafter, I began the task of designing eight self evident statements about reality, that I determined, these chosen naturalist philosophies would agree on; the ensuing debate within my mind lasted for years. Eventually, the philosophical concepts began to render down into key abstracts. I repeatedly tried to paint the simplest picture with the abstracts, but I never truly became satisfied with what was drawn. Conceptually the statements began to evolve over time and became more and more useful in comparing the naturalist perspectives in a clear and concise manner. Eventually I was able to link all five perspectives in a seemingly obvious but actually profound way.

In a semi final form they clearly established that the context for all value and moral standards, both philosophical and religious, must invariably be based on Life. These belief systems, like us, are desperately dependent on Life itself. I realized that the key to all belief systems, not just naturalist, was not the values or ethics they conveyed, or even their perspectives outright, but their effects on life. If a belief or moral system hampers or degrades life to the point where effective progress in living cannot be maintained, its influence in turn will degrade, be modified, or abandoned. Conversely, if a particular practical moral code is abandoned without regard for its effect on life, this too may hamper life’s progress and the code will likely be reestablished. Beliefs guide actions and behaviors, when

It would seem that the basis of all morality is the context of all mortalities, Life itself. All the moral systems that survive into the future accomplish this by serving Life. We should judge good and bad based on how those beliefs and acts effect the life they are connected to, as this is the true context, and naturally valid check, of all moral or ethical standards. Without life, all abstract systems of faith and schemes of belief are useless because they have no context to be manifested from. Without a living being to profess and act in line with a moral standard, the moral standard ceases to exist in reality. In other words, if every human on earth died tomorrow the idea’s and systems of thought they carry would have no living medium to survive or act from—emphasizing an old Taoist precept that, “Thought is not Life.” Ideas only matter because life gives them credence, so the proper value structure begins with Life first and foremost. Therefore, I can state abstractly that the persistence of morality, or moral systems, isn’t in the ideas but in how the ideas support life. This should not be surprising; it is clear that what ultimately defines all moral codes and standards of ethics is what supports our own awareness, Life itself.

I started with the question, “How can I build an ethics without religion, the belief in God, or an afterlife?” and this led me to a more pertinent question, how can anyone build any ethics or moral system without an inherent belief in life?” Atheists, naturalist, and the secular viewpoints are often regarded by the religious literalist or fundamentalist as amoral; I contest that this perception is entirely false. In this process I have come to realize that the naturalist perspectives value Nature and the practical means of Life beyond all other considerations, and so have an active faith and belief in life–without the need for a concurrent belief in god.Image

taoism

What I learned from Taoism.

I was drawn to Taoism partly because of its foreign nature, and mystery that shrouds its flexible tenants; I eventually became a sincere practitioner of its concepts when I began to recognize the substance of its philosophical arguments concerning human nature and the best practice of it. There are so few religious and societal institutions, in the West, that teach or emphasis balance, balanced in mood, balance in sight, balance in mind, balance in striving, balance in ambition, balance in family, balance in life; Taoist writing inject you with a thirst for balance in all things. They warn of the pitfalls of excess, the taking of extreme positions and practices; the over indulgence in the senses that can causes inner turmoil and imbalances that can degrade your life and the life of things you are connected to. It also breaks down many illusions concerning the physical world and the myriad of things surrounding us. It points out the constant cycles of change, in life and death, the inflite and complex mixings of earth and sky and mind. In this it teaches the need to let go to move forward, how small things, small steps, and small efforts sum up over time to do astounding things. It argues for the practical needs of life to seek and choose substance over superficial ideas and beauties; because the Taoist philosophers recognized, and want you to recognize, that only by choosing and filling things with substance, are the efforts of life truly nurtured and sustained.

This philosophy enlightens you upon the many natures of change and growth, and instructs how these things can be divorced from ambition and extremes and still come about naturally in unique, authentic, and surprising ways. The Doa de jing guides readers not by excessive definitions and labeling of virtues and laws to live by, but by encouraging persons to trust their intuition, by pointing out the apparent practical pitfalls, nearly all related to excesses of our lives and how they can work against us if taken too far for too long. The Dao de jing highlights the importance of work and how, under the proper practice of it, we should feel fully consume, and immersed with purpose. All these principles coalesce into a seemingly unformed (formless) yet fully adaptable and encompassing set of guidelines that can serve all human purposes in all endeavors in very important ways. It is here that I point out again the Taoist philosophical emphasis for balance and its strong impression on me as a young adult. Although I didn’t always practice what I learned from it in life, it became a nagging opinion and mindset that I would turn to, often consult, and make decisions from—and it served my life very well when I applied it—so its value became well proven in my own life.

random-thoughts

Random Thoughts: On God and Culture.

random-thoughts

I think all systems inevitably can be reduced into one source or pattern which has near infinite complexity. That underlying source may not regard itself as what we think of as a God; nor is there a word or combination of words that could ever fully describe something of infinite complexity. It is apparent however that its machinations self organize reality, and our lives rest on its machinations, we are probably not as important in the grand scheme of things if tornadoes and comets can kill us. But we are unique and imbued with a lot of complexity and patterns so we must be connected to it in many ways.

Personal freedoms and opportunities like we have today are rare in the scope of human history. Human kind has assumed freedom in all things enable people to self organize themselves with society better. I think this is what the libertarians believe. I don’t think a world exist where peoples obligations are not tied to each on some way–its a matter of degrees, the higher the temperature (freedom) the more active the boiling–the more human-kind seems to progress through change and struggle.

The biggest obstacle to “Greatness” is actually the belief that you have reached greatness.

Jim Collins Book Good to Great is an interesting read.  It opens with a harsh assessment that great companies are built by great thinkers early on and although any company can be profitable by being good or even a bit under par, great companies produce huge profit multipliers more consistently because they apply Collins “framework”. 

th (2)

The core attributes of “Greatness” revolve around a seemingly Machiavellian leaders who are humble and always willing to put the company first– and cut employees not motivated or performing up to the new standards he puts in place. These leaders seek out talented people that are disciplined and capable of confronting brutal truths, yet never give up. He lays out a way of finding the sweet spot of passion, competition, and driving resources—while using technology to accelerate this mixture for enhanced growth. Then taking an incremental approach, makes safe small bets into innovative new areas.

He goes on to list “good to great” case studies, companies he assesses are “Great” by some statistical profit-centric-growth definition(financial performance)–to me this is the most glaring error in his book; he list companies which include Fannie Mae (delisted from the NYSE 2010), Circuit city(Bankruptcy in 2008), Wells Fargo(sold risky mortgage-backed securities, also accused and settled a class action lawsuit on lending discrimination based on race), and Walgreens (multiple Medicare scandals, and discriminated against African-Americans in their workforce) as great. Although there were a few other gems in his list, a large percentage of his “Great” companies have run into ethical and often financial difficulties after living radical cycles of short term highly scaled growth. Although very profitable for most of their business lives, a lot of these businesses begin to fail or run into controversies and turmoil within the next decade of this books release.

Colins 5 level executive pyramid sounds rational.  It shows the progression of a highly capable individual becoming  effective team members, competent managers, effective leaders, and then the humble Machiavellian executive; a hierarchy that is more common sense than insightful. Also the idea that leaders and managers should focus on what their firms do best, are passionate about, and be practical about what they can achieve that rather than what they want to achieve is a common sense idea—not worth spending years of research on.

I think Collins goes on to undercut himself a bit by emphasizing soft facts related to his perception of whether a company is leveraging their economic engine, what its good at, and passionate about—very subjective criteria.  He believes the clarity brought on by understanding these three things brings on an efficiency in thought and effort which can propel you to greatness. To me it’s just a gross over-simplification of not-to insightful nor substantive framework of understanding business success. In my opinion Collin’s previous book “Built to last” was much better and more original, because his definition and list of visionary companies was a better measuring stick to me.  In that argument companies without vision or who do not redefine their vision tend to cycle in and out of stagnation.

I think the biggest obstacle to “Greatness” is actually the belief that you have reached greatness.  Success is a two edge sword, when you succeed you are living the dream—but also becoming complacent and even arrogant in your practices–and even unwilling to let go of the past success you achieved. In such a disposition you may become less inclined to change to the new demands of your environment. Once you’re at the pinnacle, its almost always assured you will stumble back down the peak.

To be “Greatness” should be more about keeping a good pace and enjoying the experience—because the second you stop climbing or being challenged you stop growing. Collins is right in this sense,  Leaders who are rigorous and never satisfied will push and shake up their organizations to try risky things and never fall into that success rut–where they stop improving, stop moving.  If the risk is measured and informed, and the company has disciplined people managing it, and analyzing it they will adapt to market changes in a more predictive manner.  If a company is not diligent in this, it opens itself up to be overcome by market changes.