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Friday, 11 December 2015

Certainly not

Since the dawn of times, we human beings have been busy, exploring and learning. The passage of time has improved our capabilities and options of learning, which means that we can learn more, faster and more comprehensively than the members of our species, who strolled the gravel pathways of our planet, a couple of hundred years ago.
But contrary to obvious flow of things, on daily basis, we are learning less than the caveman.
You would, probably, ask, as to how could I compare the modern, civilized, technologically advanced, and socially developed human beings with the caveman? But for me, the comparison is very real. Because, when we talk about development and civilization, we also make comparisons to people, who lived in the ages, when current advancements were nothing more than fiction. All I am doing here is to compare us with the most ancient, rather than with someone in-between.
That being said, let me now tell you, why I consider us lagging behind the caveman, in the pace of learning. The caveman knew nothing and had no points or sources of reference, so he learnt something with every step he took. For human beings of those times, life meant learning or dying and even a lot of them died learning. But the pace of human development was incredible, and mind you, I am talking about human development, not technological development. Every human being reached or tried to reach beyond his or her current location and with every step they took, they discovered something and all that they learnt they passed down to their off-springs verbally. This verbal transmission of knowledge was, first of all, localized, secondly the narrator could pass on relevant information at relevant times, and this would help avoid stuffing of information. Thirdly, the people understood that they were learning so they were not ashamed of not-knowing. Sometimes a younger individual would dare step beyond the known and would know more than the elders.
Time kept passing, the numbers of the members of our species increased and so did the volume of knowledge or known things. The more people had to do on daily basis for subsistence or survival, the more they practically learnt each day. The more they did the lesser they had time on hand for idle discussions or hair skinning.

Now hold your horses, before declaring that I am against discussion or philosophical contemplation. What I mean is that when somebody wanted to know something, they most often took practical actions, accumulating knowledge of that thing along the way, instead of trying to talk themselves into knowledge. And mind you that knowledge used to be local, and when it is local, it is precise, but at the same time it does not have to be actual for any other place. For example a builder, whose knowledge and expertise are based on local conditions, always builds better, in the given area, than any foreign builder. Why? Because he understands the local climatic conditions, soil structure, and availability of one or the other building material, better than any foreign builder. This is just a loose example, but to understand the implications of this example, please spend some time looking at modern structural engineering in many areas. What you will see is that people in regions of hot climate are designing their buildings after European trends, minimizing natural ventilation holes, and lowering ceilings. In cooler European lands, such design attributes are called for to lower the cost of heating, but what effect such things have in sub-tropical or tropical regions, is something easily observable.
Speaking of observations, let me again take you back to the cave. The early process of learning was more observation based, so it was factual, actual, and need-driven. And this need-driven learning led to inventions.
One of the ground breaking inventions was the ability to write human thought. Discovery of fire was also ground-breaking, and probably in many ways more important than writing, because it brought taste into food. This (discovery of fire) also brought free time into human life, because now food could be preserved for a longer time. So now people did not have to seek food from lunch to dinner, but could gather food one time and eat it for a whole day, and in certain cases for days. This free time enabled the human beings to devise different uses of fire. Availability of free time helped, the ancestors of today's developed human beings, learn how to use fire to protect themselves, and then to use the same fire to eliminate threats. My point is that every material discovery led to the development of methods of destruction.
So let's forget about fire, and get back to the discovery, accumulation and transmission of knowledge. Ability to write thoughts and messages opened broad freeways for human kind. We humans eagerly exploit novelties, and so did our ancestors exploit the ability to write. With this human knowledge became more available and this availability was extended beyond time limits, because now knowledge did not die with the death of the bearer. Now members of our species could leave behind their thoughts, for many generations to come, on different mediums, like cave walls, bark or rocks, until we invented a longer lasting portable medium, called paper.
The invention of paper revolutionized the spread of knowledge. Now we, humans, could leave behind our knowledge and thoughts for generations to come and our WORD became global. This can be regarded as the height of human development, because paper gave us book and the book enabled us to immortalize the greatest of human belongings: knowledge. Although ideas could be recorded earlier as well, but knowledge left on cave walls could not be duplicated or replicated. Paper enabled us to reproduce thoughts in the form of books, and books crawled across oceans to bring one area's thoughts and beliefs into other areas.
The book spread the WORD, but at the same time the BOOK killed exploration and slowed down progression of knowledge in some fields, whereas helped terminate any progress at all, in other fields.
As compared to earlier, pre-book times, now humans try to learn others' experiences, before they even achieve physical capability to learn something for themselves. As a result their brains are stuffed with other people's ideas, before they can have any ideas of their own. The problem is not having lots of data in your hard drive. The problems is the time that you need to spend on negating OTHER PEOPLE's ideas if your own experiences and ideas differ from them. If lucky, a person can delete irrelevant data and replace it with more personalized information, hence have a better database. But unfortunately, what normally happens is that either we never realize the wrongness of available data or we understand it, when it is already too late.
For example, Aristotle, born in Macedonia and educated in Athens, tutored Alexander, son of Philip the King of Macedonia.
Alexander's life was influenced by Aristotle's teachings. Aristotle triggered his pupil's fantasy with Homer's Iliad and other tales of Troy. Mind you, Iliad was already in non-verbal form. Aristotle, who had never gone to the Persian Empire or the seat of the Persian Empire, bluntly labelled the Persians as "barbarians", for Alexander, based on the written accounts of other travellers or on the basis of discussions at the academy of Plato in Athens. Alexander grew-up visualizing Persians as under-developed, un-cultured beasts, ruling majority of the known lands.

Aristotle first entered Persepolis together with the wave of destruction, inflicted upon Persians by his "able" pupil Alexander. By the time Alexander understood the wrongness of Aristotle's views and realized that Persians were a developed people, with very highly developed social structure and incredible advances in the fields of agriculture, architecture and trade, he had already burnt down the royal palace in Persepolis, along with a number of other infrastructure facilities. It took destruction at large scale, for Alexander to understand that Persians were not at all "Barbarians", as taught by his teacher and his books.
Logically the more you know the better you become, but factually the more we know the more we grow restrained. Because we have generalized knowledge and our meter of relevance of knowledge is based on acceptance by masses. The greater the number of people, endorsing a given piece of information or knowledge, the more it becomes CORRECT and RELEVANT. Globalization of knowledge, just as the globalization of culture, is a killer and we should avoid it.
The problem with the BOOK is that it ascertains things. The main characteristic of the BOOK is to discuss and define, and the person, who fills the BOOK with black on white, always has a certain geographical, social and cultural belonging. When you have physical bounds, how can your experiences be global? For example black people find white people more attractive, whereas white people's standard of attraction is quite the opposite. So can we have a global standard of attractiveness?
Another example can be a food item called Stroganina, which is a Northern dish, comprising of fresh-frozen fish or meat. This fresh-frozen fish or meat is cut in thin slices and served uncooked. When this piece of information reaches a person living in the tropics, all he can deduce is that the people in the north are barbarians, who don't even cook their food. Because for the inhabitant of the tropics, uncooked fish or meat translates as food poisoning and subsequent death. And against the background of his own ways of life, the cooked food lover would be right to consider the northerners as barbarians, but does it really make them barbarians? Of course not.
I am using the word BOOK over and over again in this text, but it does not mean that the other mediums of replication and reproduction and spread of knowledge are better. For example the internet is also filled with data, and when you google all you come across are other people's experiences.
One end of humanity says that people were created, whereas the other half spends time drawing different illustrations of evolution. But unfortunately there is no third view. The expanse of knowledge has made people's perceptions more black & white, instead of adding millions of shades of grey. And this, in fact, is the gift of the BOOK. This is the gift of certainty. This is the treasure of knowing only the right and the wrong, but nothing in-between.
Probably we have got it all wrong. Probably, knowledge is not the set of solutions or answers to a set of problems or questions? Probably, knowledge has to be a set of data without conclusions? Probably, there should be no answers, and every question should be answered on spot, locally?
Probably, this quest of knowing the answers is wrong in its essence? Probably, any answer that does not give birth to a question, is wrong? For me, I think the caveman progressed faster than the modern human being, because the caveman sought questions. The caveman left the answers behind and sought new challenges. The caveman did not have standards or limitations. The caveman's thoughts had a license to free flight, which we unfortunately lost on the road down to modern times. The caveman had no problem learning natural processes like having sex, and natural processes were not under seals of secrecy. The caveman, just like us, knew that human reproduction was based on cross-gender intercourse, and our ancestor never felt ashamed of this process.

But we, the more knowledgeable, and as per our own perception, more developed people, have a problem with accepting sex as a natural process and a vast majority of human race today, considers sex as a taboo. We, the more knowledgeable human beings, have a problem visualizing and accepting our own parents making love, whereas we could not have been born without daddy coming down on mommy. But our standards limit us from accepting this fact. Why fact? Because if I am writing this, the above is a fact in flesh and blood.
So, for me, I have decided to stop seeking answers. I want to learn and to explore. I don't want decisions, more so decisions made by others. I will not give up reading, but I will never take the BOOK as a guiding light. What others experienced, was good for them, but I want to live in my reality, and decide things as required by my reality. I want to progress just as freely as the caveman, and discover my own million shades of grey.

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