What time is it? Seasons, Memories, Dreams and Moments

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“Knowledge is authentic and complete only when it is a way of life, when beyond the mastery of a science there is scrupulous attention to what a good life means…”

Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne

What time is it?

Why we remember, what we remember and when we remember at any point in time is a mystery. Yet scattered memories can form unrelenting thoughts in our minds every day.  They also reveal mysterious connections in our nightly slumber where we can fly like a bird, fall without landing, or chat with someone we forgot. A dream could unfold a realistically bizarre scenario like a conversation about a leaking ceiling in a bar that turns into a plane.

Past, present, and future have always been marked by social events and seasons like winter, summer, spring, and fall or rainy and dry. Technology removed the limitations of these markers. With electricity, we work when the sun goes down but our body clocks still alarm to wake at day. We harvest tomatoes all year round with the help of greenhouses but they are not nearly as delicious as when eaten in season.

Before frequent flier air travel and the internet, our thoughts were more or less limited to our local communities and the occasional encounter; visit or visitor. Yet they were still influenced by human conditions like anger, sorrow, envy, frustration and shame that weigh on us; or courage, joy, hope, compassion, and love that lift us. Still, even then no-one could stop us from traveling in our dreams to see and to experience the new and the impossible that sometimes serendipitously reached into our waking lives or let us glimpse what was to come.

Who knows… maybe what we dreamed then reflected what we do now.

Written text took hold of our imaginations. Technology carried us beyond our communities. With radio we listened; With TV we watched; With computers, we now listen, watch, read, write, capture and communicate with mobile devices, that expect us to relinquish our thoughts and memories to their service; with the hope they serve us in return.

Devices war for our eyes, constantly trying to bring our attention to someone else’s moment by leading us away from moments of our own. Time and space are scattered with our bits and bytes, some of which we look for, stumble upon or have left for others to find.

A valuable commodity, time is bought and sold. Yet the purchase never comes with an unlimited guarantee. It can be taken away from our lived experience in a fraction of a second, tomorrow or years from today. It is not only linear but cyclical as African philosophers, remind us. So, we slowly return to incomplete text, like that of the Ethiopian, Zera Yacob, inaccurately relegated to a ‘pre-enlightenment’ age.

In this season, my present of presence is a lazy Sunday; music warming my soul, like the sunlight, letting my spirit soar; while the sound of raindrops on rooftops draw me into a billow of pillows that swallow me whole with comfort. A memory of dancing with family and friends. Laughing; lots of laughing. A reflected smile. The pleasure of biting into a delicious sun-kissed mango. It’s a dream. Yet I am awake. I am alive!

Seasons, memories and dreams collapse so there is just one inexplicable moment of utter peace.

It’s time for a toast.

Here’s to those moments.

Computing the Yin in our Yang?

‘Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness’

Anne Frank

I grew up hearing family stories of days of little. Stories which when retold seemed like days of lots. We have a collective nostalgia to ‘bring back the old time days’ or ‘make our countries great again’. Selectively reflecting on the authenticity of the past with scant appreciation for what’s genuine in the present. 

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Image Source: Pixhere

This nostalgia doesn’t always reflect poverty, loss, starvation or cruelty.  We delight in memories of what was done together. That which was exchanged, in equal measure. What was given and received. Like a cup of sugar for a pint of milk. A lift from a neighbour for no reason other than you were both headed the same way. The offer of a meal from someone else’s pot. 

The negative (-) and the positive (+), we encounter in our environment affect us.  Doctors in training can suffer from ‘medical school syndrome’. As they learn more and more about a particular disease, they can exhibit symptoms of the disease they intensely study – – -. Alternatively, symptoms may be relieved when given a placebo + + +. Something we think is medicine but is actually just water, maybe some Italian herbs. 

This isn’t helped by the ‘filter bubbles’ we live in that reinforce what we see and influence what we come to believe. For instance, Facebook experimented with the news feeds of hundreds of individuals. They showed them either a low number of positive posts or a low number of negative posts. Those shown more negative posts posted more negative comments – – –  while those shown more positive posts posted more positively + + +.

Born of Taoism/Daoism philosophy in 4th century B.C., Yin and Yang is one way of conceptualising negative and positive. This is entwined in Chinese medicine and cuisine too. Yin is the black side, feminine (+), dark, cold, a pull. Yang is the white side, masculine (-), light, hot, a push. Yin and Yang, are relative to each other. They complement, interconnect. Like water and fire, the moon and the sun, soft and hard, front and back, north and south, valleys and mountains, space and time.

Nothing is completely Yin or completely Yang.

There is Yin within Yin.

There is Yang within Yang.

Yang dwells within Yin.

Yin lives within Yang.

Yin can become Yang.

Yang can become Yin.

So, what are the algorithms for finding the Yin in our Yang? (+ + – = -) (- + – = +)?

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Symbol of Yin and Yang

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

An answered call…

Hello!

“Another world is not only possible, it’s already on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Arundhati Roy

I love reading and I love writing, especially poetry. My curiosity about what it means to be and how we use and change the technology we create to interpret that has increased exponentially with the birth of my son. It’s what made me yield to my mindful, inner push to create and to write here today. Even though the site is not at all perfected and this takes 20 minutes away from working on my thesis, that keeps shouting at me about that looming deadline.

I guess it really is no coincidence that I am doing a PhD in Web Science,  which looks at how the web intersects with the every day. It tries to bring greater understanding of fields, worlds, outside of what we call our own by forging new ideas and different connections for a positive way forward.

I’ll be posting here articles and opinions on technology-related issues, how we impact them and they impact us. My poetry and prose will I hope also inspire, and I’ll link you to any authors that I find interesting and thought-provoking. Let’s see what comes from answering this moment’s call. I hope you hear and answer your nagging call today too.

Ring…

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