A Place for Cafe Refugees and Others Like Them

Some personal thoughts on a raft called paradigm

Well, so far in the poll regarding the name change, it would appear that we will be going to a group process.  One feedback I have received is the desire to keep the “Once Upon a…” part of the title.  If this were happen, the question would be what the end word would be.  One suggestion has been “Once Upon a Paradigm.”  Another that came up in the chat room was “Once Upon a Raft.”

Now I have to say that personally have a affinity for the word “paradigm.”  I became aware of the word during a period of time in which how I understood the world and my place in it went through some serious changes.  One might be able say that I was experiencing a paradigm shift.  It was a time that I became involved in environmental activism, and was exposed to new ways of understanding the world from deep ecology to systems theory to deconstructionism and other post-structuralism thought.

It was a philosophical/ideological journey that probably could be said to have begun with Fritjof Capra’s Tao of Physics.  Up to that moment I was basically an atheist, and Capra was able through this book to show that science and spirituality were not necessarily two opposites of a singular spectrum.  It opened me up to new ways of thinking.

To make a long story short, the questions and issues I was dealing with and moving through probably was best described in the movie Mindwalk.   From Wikipedia:

Mindwalk is a 1990 feature film directed by Bernt Amadeus Capra, based on his own short story, based in turn on the book The Turning Point by his brother Fritjof Capra, the author of the book The Tao of Physics.

The majority of the movie is a conversation among three characters: a Norwegian scientist, Sonia Hoffman (played by Liv Ullmann), “the only woman in my department, the first in Norway doing quantum field theory“; an American politician and former presidential candidate, Jack Edwards (played by Sam Waterston); and poet Thomas Harriman (played by John Heard), a former political speechwriter, as they wander around Mont Saint Michel, France. The movie serves as an introduction to systems theory and systems thinking, while insights into modern physical theories such as quantum mechanics and particle physics are also given.

Political and social problems, and alternative solutions for them, are another major focus of the film. However, specific problems and solutions are not the main focus; rather, different perspectives are presented through which these problems can be viewed and considered. Sonia Hoffman’s perspective is referred to as the holistic, or systems theory, perspective. Thomas Harriman, the poet, recites the poem “Enigmas” by Pablo Neruda (based on the translation by Robert Bly) at the end of the movie, concluding the core of the discussion.

In this scene as put by the synthetelepa who uploaded it to youtube “the protagonists have a dialog on omnipresent contiguous interconnectedness from a quantum physics perspective.”

And here is Pablo Neruda’s poem as translated by Bly.


You’ve asked me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.
You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing
how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.
You enquire about the kingfisher’s feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you’ve found in the cards a new question touching on
the crystal architecture
of the sea anemone, and you’ll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean

the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its
jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating
the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,

In a way I see this site as an ongoing mindwalk.

At the same time I like the idea of the raft.  When I was first contemplating the name change, the one that popped in their first was “Café Refugee.”  I always liked the concept of seeing the reader blogs over at TPM as a virtual café where people gathered together to have conversations about politics, life, or whatever came to mind.  Sometimes there was someone reading their poetry.  Or maybe someone just talked some good news or bad news in their personal life and needed to share it with some people they trusted and liked.

Because of the closing of the reader blogs over at TPM, we were like refugees, having lost our home and in search of another place to hang our hat.  In more general sense, we are all refugees in some way, looking for a refuge from the trials and tribulations of our daily life.  Of course, nothing can compare to suffering and misery that refugees in many countries around the globe.

So in once sense, we are seeking that raft to save us from being tossed upon the surface of the sea of life (the sea of love?).  This site is one such raft, though definitely not the only one.  And being in the raft, there is hope.  We can not only wait for some kind of rescue, we can take control and head for some shore.

Then there is Buddha, who called his teaching a Raft. To cross a turbulent river we may need to build a raft. When built, we single-mindedly and with great energy make our way across. Once across we don’t need to cart the raft around with us. In other words don’t cling to anything including the teachings.  Each raft is important only as long as it is useful. You can put down the raft; you don’t need to carry it or drag it across dry land. If and when you come to another river, you will find or build another raft suited to that river.  A message, putting all the other implications aside, we can apply to the demise of TPM Café reader blogs and our search for a new home.

Then again someone else threw out barenekked bloggers as a title and i like that, too.  Hahahahahaha.

Comments on: "what’s in a name? some thoughts" (13)

  1. I like all of them, all of the ideas we have come up with. I’m terrible when it comes to making decisions (typical Libra, eh?) because each idea has its own merit. Therefore, I’ll leave it up to you and the rest of the group, and will happily live with whatever name y’all come up with.

    I’m easy. 😉

  2. Very cool set of ideas, alpha trope.
    I like the entanglement aspect of the mind walk video.
    Whatever phrase is used should be natural and easy.

    I like the idea that people throw out all sorts of stuff and you be the arbiter in the end. Opening and Closing, the quality of real things.

    So I will let this comment be this and throw out stuff later on.

  3. ~flowerchild~ said:

    How’s about “Once Upon a Raft of Barenekkid Bloggers”?

    I won’t have to really take my clothes off, will I? Cuz, jeebus, it’s like 42 degrees here and we haven’t turned on the furnace yet.

  4. Well I still like Once Upon A Paradigm

    and also Once Upon A …

  5. another trope said:

    I would say at this point there has been no final decision on the name change. I will be putting up at least one more poll to get a pulse of where people want to go with it. Since we’ll basically have to live with whatever the decision is for sometime I am no huge rush to make the decision. On the other hand, I would like to do it as soon as possible.

  6. On the other hand, I would like to do it as soon as possible.

    Have I worked for you, alpha trope?

  7. I prefer Once Upon a Paradigm because it follows the same meter as Once Upon a TPM

  8. You have me thinking of so many things all at once.

    First I have to see this movie.

    Second, it reminds me that we have to school children–we need to provide a structure that communicates some sort of understandable universe.

    But we children became adults. Just because we were schooled into ‘seeing order’ in the midst of chaos, does not mean we should not ‘think out of school’ sometimes.

    We don’t know what an atom actually looks like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_structure

    I was told as a child that there is a nucleus composed of neutrons and protons and around this nucleus are electrons.

    But I look and look and look through all the popular texts relating to physics and…

    There are not three ‘pieces’ of an atom. There are over 90 that we know of. We do not KNOW for a fact how atoms ‘work’.

    That is why I love that little discussion in the video you provide.

    I have begun a series of blogs on conflicts of interests. There is a systemic problem going on here. The problem affects our lives nationally and locally ever single day. To just look for a couple crooks in that system is not enough.

    We have had laws on the books, as they say, for two hundred years trying to deal with the injustice of conflicts of interest.

    Oh I will probably write about orange possums and about rush limbaugh anyway.

    But I would like to approach some issues ‘out of school’.

    the end

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