Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Machine Knows! (Or Does It?)

I recently took a trip that involved a long drive, and during my travels I had an opportunity to employ a GPS (“Global Positioning System”) – you know, one of those devices that uses satellites to track your position and, charting your location on maps with which it is programmed, tells you audibly which way to turn (“In .2 miles, prepare to turn right on Oak Street…Turn Right on Oak Street…Continue 5 miles….”).
During this trip, I learned that a GPS is a remarkably useful device for navigating unfamiliar terrain. However, I also learned firsthand something that I already knew from simply being alive in this culture, something most drivers have known for years now: GPS devices can be unreliable in many situations.

Invariably, there will be places where the road is different than the map programmed into the GPS: either they’ve built a new road or there’s construction going on or there’s a traffic jam that just makes you want to go straight instead of turning (or vice versa), etc.. In those cases, you have to ignore the directions the GPS is telling you, make the moves that the situation demands, and let the device recalculate the route – unless, of course, you want to drive into an unpleasant situation.
I’m reminded of the mildly amusing scene from the American version of the sitcom The Office in which Michael Scott blindly obeys his GPS and turns right…into a lake…because “The machine knows!” (Link here. Sorry for the poor video quality: it’s all I could find)

There’s a lesson in all of this: the GPS is useful, but it sure as hell doesn’t beat paying attention to the road.
If it’s not obvious where I’m going with this, I’ll note that driving a car is one of my favorite metaphors for carrying out the True Will: navigating through life and trying to stay on one’s path even when passing through unfamiliar territory. As with driving a car, one is aided in carrying out the True Will by paying attention to reality (keeping one’s eyes on the road). Now, glancing away from the road for a moment or two, of course, usually causes no problems. But the longer one keeps one’s eyes and attention focused on something else, the greater the chances of catastrophe.

And as with driving, there are tools that can help assist with the accomplishment of one’s True Will. Chief among these tools is the conscious mind. However, like a GPS, the conscious mind can easily lead one astray if one blindly follows the call of the “machine”

Read on for more details.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Bloomsday 2012

It would have diverted, if ever seen, the shuddersome
spectacle of this semidemented zany amid the inspissated grime
of his glaucous den making believe to read his usylessly unread-
able Blue Book of Eccles, édition de ténèbres, (even yet sighs the
Most Different, Dr. Poindejenk, authorised bowdler and censor,
it can't be repeated!) turning over three sheets at a wind, telling
himself delightedly, no espellor mor so, that every splurge on the
vellum he blundered over was an aisling vision more gorgeous
than the one before t.i.t.s.

--Finnegans Wake

Link of the day: Ulysses for Dummies