About “Life as I Find it”

Copyright © 2014 Robert Joseph Harris, All Rights Reserved for content on this blog.


Thwarting Oxford for Insights

Life is full of unexpected insights; they just tumble out of everyday events of their own accord as if being pushed by invisible forces. They range from the mundane to the profound, and usually need a “can you believe this” quality to catch my eye. Following the advice of William Burroughs, I try to write about what matters, about things I know something about, and to write in my authentic voice. I also like to have a little fun thwarting Oxford.

The Oxford Dictionary not only defines “insight”, it suggests my first article of this updated “Life as I Find it” blog. Oxford defines “insight” as noun, thusly: “The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing,” and gives this example: this paper is alive with sympathetic insight into Shakespeare.

I have problems with Oxford’s definition of insight. As a noun why did Oxford leave out “place” to go with “person” and “thing?” I personally had a deep insight I will never forget at the place where I first kissed a girl. What about abstract intangibles like “ideas?” Ideas are not only part of life they are arguably what insights are made of! Using “capacity” (the maximum something can contain according to Oxford) seems like overkill for describing insight, especially when the modifiers “accurate” and “deep” are also used with “intuition.” Finally, why does Oxford always have to bring up Shakespeare?

I thus thwart Oxford and choose to write about the source of insights from LIFE in the form of a person, place, thing or idea. There are seven categories of sources for insights from life not mentioned by Oxford.

Life of an Idea: Democracy

It will be instructive to use an “idea” as an example to ferret out general categories for insights drawn from living entities because ideas are not usually thought of as living. But ideas are born, and some live and some die. Democracy is chosen for the example of an idea here to show how it satisfies the seven essential functions that all living systems must have:

1. Intention: Governance of the People, by the People, and for the People via laws
2. Energy In: Votes and money.
3. Waste Out:
Injustice, Corruption, Sickness, inefficiency
4. Defend:
Military might to protect its sovereignty
5. Repair:
Fix broken and out dated laws, regulations, and processes
6. Reproduce:
Regular Bloodless transfer of power at the Federal, State and Local Levels
7. Transform:
Learn & adapt constitution to major new opportunities and threats

An idea is an autonomous agent that acts in its own behalf as long as it is kept alive by its users. Insights into new ideas tell us what it takes to keep them alive. Democracy is an autonomous idea invented by the Ancient Greeks over 2500 years ago. It lasted 250 to 300 years until wars disrupted it. American democracy at 238 years old is approaching the beginning of this historical period of disruption. What insights can we learn from historical events to ensure the survival of American Democracy?

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