Domingo Gale

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 2 Mar 2010 01:09
Alongside Ushuaia
Wind: Mostly calm
Weather: Partly cloudy, cool.

Yesterday we had a gale go through. The dock is well sheltered from the west but most boats put a few extra lines out to take the strain, including Sylph especially now as she has another boat outboard of her which arrived a couple of days ago. Despite the wind and rain I still managed to get a little bit of deck maintenance completed, and some work down below.

(Warning: the following paragraphs have religious references and may cause an allergic reaction in those so inclined)

On the intellectual side I have at last finished wading through “The Confessions of St Augustine,” reputedly a Christian and philosophical classic. The first half was pretty much an autobiography confessing all his sins and how he found the way to the “Truth”, though I was very disappointed in his explanation of this Truth, seeming to rely upon an inner recognition of it rather than any logical and analytical process. I guess maybe God doesn’t work that way but worry about anyone guided by intuition without reference to some rational objective analysis, as it seems to me that history has shown this path to be riddled with all sorts of nonsense including potential atrocities. I tried to work out what Augustine meant by God, what was he actually worshipping and devoting his life to and as best I could work out for him God represented the concepts of truth and justice. Some people say God is love, but I have decided this doesn’t make much sense, as love cannot exist in a vacuum, otherwise what is it? Love needs a subject and an object, i.e. I love to sail, I love you, etc. So St Augustine loves the concepts of truth and justice (as indeed do I), that is about the best I can work out. Mind you he clearly had a brilliant mind, and I found the second half more interesting where he turns his thoughts to analyzing Genesis and creation. After a lengthy discussion on what is time he worked out that to ask the question what was God doing before he created heaven and earth, was a meaningless question because time did not exist before the creation event. While for a modern physicist this is pretty basic stuff and noting that Augustine was writing n in the fourth century AD. I did find his working through this problem very interesting and which for the period must have been a pretty radical insight into the nature of the universe; truly an example of his love of truth. Here is another interesting tit bit - leading on from this (much later in the book) is his contemplation of how God exists in time, and comes to the conclusion again through his inner voice (intuition - Augustine calls it God speaking to him?) that while we must necessarily understand things in time God is eternal and therefore does not exist in time (this is the best summary of what I think he is saying). Now I find it an interesting correlation to contemplate that when we use the metaphor “God is Light” that according to Einstein’s theory of relativity that for light, time and space does not exist. As a photon of light has no mass and travels at the fastest speed possible in our universe, distance and time do not exist for it but rather, from the photons perspective it arrives at its destination instantly. Another interesting question though perhaps pretty meaningless is, if it never arrives at a destination does it exist? Maybe this belongs in the same box as Schrodinger‘s cat.

A thought on intuition, which I believe is a very valuable tool, and undoubtedly the way many great discoveries are made, and many great works of art created, but probably without exception only after much study and hard work. The mind can arrive at a solution to a problem unconsciously, but it can also lead to many false trails and after the intuitive leap the next step of the process is critical analysis to prove or disprove the leaped at solution.

And, only loosely related to all this I would like to discuss the idea of entropy at some point, but enough for now.

And apart from a few of these interesting sections I confess that I found the remainder of Augustine’s confessions rather tedious and ended up skimming the last several chapters.

I had been reading concurrently Northrop Frye’s book “Anatomy of Criticism”, a bit of a brain stretcher. Read the first essay, very good, started the second, interesting but a little too esoteric for me so have put that to one side for now, maybe I will get back to it in a year or three.

Currently reading “Hunger” by Knut Hamsun. Very good.

And I am sure that is more than enough intellectualizing for now, hopefully we will soon be sailing again and be able to get back to some more practical matters.

Trying to get some painting done but showers threaten. And just heard the Mechanic will be visiting us tomorrow.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

Good grief, can we leave us cats out of such nonsense  . . . Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.