Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Unifying theory

Imagining the Eiffel tower, is this the greater accomplishment than figuring out how to built it? Is the inspiration/epiphany of something from nothing, if that's what an original thought is, more rare and important than the abilities required to close the distance between what is and what needs to be for the goal to be reached? And does the rivet driver, or the welder, or the crane operator agree?

Virginia Woolf's room with a view has always pissed me off. A quiet, warm, cozy place to think, with no worries for food, finances, etc., as foundation for the product of new ideas. Possibly because there is a welder, hanging 20 stories in the air, trying to figure out how to weld a 48 degree angled piece of steel in sub-zero temps with a stiff breeze moving the piece to be welded, and the structure itself is shifting gently in the wind. Mastering this situation is not a purely physical endeavor, it is problem solving, of some order.

The question is, which is the higher order? Where should we (We) be focusing our energies? Does imagining the goal to some extent realize it's fulfillment? (That would be Spinoza's God. To think it is to bring it into being.) Or is the goal, the idea, the direction nothing without the skills to accomplish it?

Is it better to be an architect/philosopher/politician, than to be a mason/cook/mechanic?

If you are solely a thinker/planner/imaginer, then you produce no physical impact. (This could be false if there are yet to be realized connections between thought and effect. I hope so.) Yet if you are solely a doer, then without direction, inspiration, a leader, what are you working towards?

And what if you are neither? What if you are excellent at execution, leading people with skills to accomplish great projects, but you have neither skills to do the work yourself, nor the abilities to originate the guiding vision?

Which tears down the nice order of two into who knows how many gradients of abilities, all necessary to the accomplishment of anything. Which blows away the simple structure I was hoping for, the simple (ha!) problem that we might discuss and work through to some sort of conclusion.

I feel, want, there to be a simpler way of approaching these issues. The complexity that they all scream in return seems wrong. Social/political/scientific/religious questions/problems, they are all so complex. I want to see the greater, unifying theory behind it all, the threads that make all the chaos comprehensible.

I want this, with the professed humility of preparing for my inability, either personal, or as a species, to recognize or comprehend it.

But even an analogy, a universal translation to a simpler structure to convey the gyst, would be enough.

I want this on a philosophical level, but I also want this for my day to day life. What do I need to focus my life's energy on? At a poorly defined level, I know I want to improve the world as a whole. But what does that mean in practical terms? A room with a view, crossing my fingers and hoping I conceive of something useful? Or skilled craftsperson, hoping that I find a role in a greater project that will accomplish the same for the species? Or one of the many gradients?

It's so easy to get lost in analysis of the world as it is. People as they have and do interact. Empirical behavior patterns of the physical world around us, as we have perceived them up to this point. The chaos, the demoralizing result of the human species' accomplishments and choices, is a hard thing to work through and hope for the future.

But once you do, what do you do? If you must do, and I must, what?