Educating for Revolution

Each small step for mankind, for human life,
has been made outside the sterile classroom –
in a fetid womb pulsing with unknown
and compromising factors. No constants.

Each single minutiae significant,
and holding within its identity
a key to the unraveling of truth
(not as the world sees it, but as truth sees).

Who while immersed in the obscurity
of dusty tomes and hackneyed evidence
will see more than just motes of swirling dust?
Who among those keen studied observers

will recognize the source of that motion
as their own bated and hesitant breath?
The primary rules of hard science are these:
First, yes can never be infinitely

tested, but a world can be swift destroyed
by a single, solitary failure.
Second, the observer and the observed
must always remain apart, for the sake

of objectivity, and to keep clear
from future disputations and disproofs.
How in such a climate of disbelief
(structured surely by nothing else than faith

in a far superior illusion)
can the observer ever become more
than what is already inside the box
defining tomorrow’s limits today?

25 JAN 2003

A couple of links I just followed and read from my friend rialian’s journal, particularly those that led to the website of Jaron Lanier, one of the pioneers of virtual reality, prompted me to start thinking anew about two of my personal directives, education and revolution. Now, for many years I have felt that the education system in America has been lacking in a number of respects. Particularly the higher education, or university, system which seems to focus more on acquiring a piece of paper that states you are educated rather than actually acquiring the knowledge and the ability to use it that would prove you educated. Like Jaron Lanier, I have no college degrees. Nor is it likely that I will acquire them, save for through the largesse of some institution that thinks it might improve its influx of donations through proffering upon me an honorary degree. However, I do not think that the revolution (or more succinctly, the continued evolution) of the human species will be promulgated or initiated by dwellers in or products of our university system. Einstein’s relativity proved two things, to my way of thinking: one, that genius is not necessarily enhanced by structured learning environments – in fact, the absence of those environments or non-reliance upon validation from those environments may in fact be one of the primary motivators for genius (a need to seek out truth on its own terms, to look beyond the narrow limitations of conventional thought); and two, that a theory of everything is only practicable if it can be very simply demonstrated or analogized. One of my favorite illustrations of relativity (provided, I believe by Einstein himself) is this: if you’re talking to a beautiful girl, five minutes seems to go by very quickly; however, if you are sitting on a hot stove, five seconds seems hours too long. Everything is relative, in other words. How does this relate to revolution? The ideas that will drive the evolution of the species are not great, giant conundrums of mental machination that will be impossible to grasp outside the realm of the quantum physics laboratory. They will be small, RELATIVELY insignificant kernels of thought that enter into the collective unconscious without even being noticed – and NOTICING them will trigger the evolutionary process. It’s a phenomenon I have referred to in the past as Applied Significance.

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