Monday, 27 November 2006

A year has passed since I wrote my blog

Over the last year I have made an attempt at two new hobbies. The second is probably a failure: I played with my new guitar for a few months, but with my operation and everything the guitar is currently gathering dust. I'm definitely hoping to get back into it, but I severely doubt I would ever get anywhere far (not that I had any significant aspirations at the time I bought it).
The first has proved to be totally addictive. Exactly a year ago, I wrote my first blog post (something I tended to refer to as a blogentry) after an email I have sent to a bunch of friends was replied all. In my "anger" at this violation of email etiquette (a crime I have committed myself on several occasions, by the way), I thought I'd start a blog; and since then I never really looked back, although I looked to the side quite often. I spend hours blogging, and it costs me in my reading and my sleeping. But I can't help it: I just love it.
On one hand it's hard to see the appeal of blogging. Hardly anyone reads it; you don't have control over who reads it and when; and as I said, like all work of love things, it takes a lot of effort.
On the other hand, I just enjoy it. Through the infrequent comments people put in my blog I learn new things, get to revisit old friends, and even make new acquaintances. Those that know me for a while will remember my tendency to send long emails telling them about something I've been through or something I've been thinking about or some movie review; now it's all institutionalized in my blog.

R-Views, which has been going since July - a bit after we got our new TV - is holding on to its promise of reviewing everything we watch [everything that is a movie, and excluding rudimentary stuff such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings]. Although it is probably the least read part of my blogging enterprise, at least judging by the number of comments I get there, I take great pride in it: the process of forcing myself to review everything can cause the frequent forced review, but it also makes me think about the film to a higher degree than before. This way, I get more out of each film.
Going Down was supposed to be the story of a man who went Down Under, a man who is falling down; after all, we are all on a downward spiral with a one way ticket since the minute we are born. Overall, I think I was successful in telling what it is that I had to tell. People who read my blog get to know what I want them to know about me, but I think it would be fair to say that it gives a pretty good impression of what I am like and what I care about. It got to the point where, when people ask me what's going on, say - with IVF - I just tell them to go read my blog; worst, when my family asks me things - and none of whom read my blog, and I'm talking both sides (although my sister started looking at the Flickr photos) - I tend to become impatient and preach about the necessities of having at least a basic grip with the internet.
You could say this is bad, but I think the worst aspect of this blog is the fact it tends to concentrate on negative stuff: I tend to criticize too many things and be more positive about fewer things. Most notably, I use this blog way too often to have a punch or two towards religion. And the point I'm trying to make is that writing a blog drives you to the extremes: as you write or plan your writing, you think about stuff; and as you think about stuff you tend to question it more and more, and so instead of settling for a comfortably numb position you end up being an extremist.
With the blog I became much more of an environmentalist, much more of an anti-consumerism, and much more of a libertarian. These extremist feeling peak, however, with religion; I don't recall despising religion as much as I do now since my high school days. Up until less than a year ago you would easily quote me saying that religion is all to do with faith; you either believe in it or you don't. Now, however, with the added thinking, I have changed my mind; it still has to do with faith, but now I think that because the probability of the beliefs is so incredibly small it is a fool's faith. And now I tend to dismiss agnosticism for being the foolish way out, the having the cake and eating it attempt we all make with our lives; and since most people are like that, in one aspect or another (me included), then where does it put me?

So what has happened to me since my high school days? I'm afraid to say that in retrospect I consider myself to be a recently freed prisoner of the system. At first it was the education system that had me as its slave and confiscated my brain; then the mind numbing army for four years; and then university, where our motto was that if you get to a test and you actually need to think then you're in trouble.
Only now, years later, with the aid of Jo and a comfortable, pressure free life, am I able to go back to doing the same things I was used to doing in my early teen years. I rediscovered how much I love reading and how much I can learn from reading. Once again you can find me clutching a book wherever I go. I also rediscovered my favorite genre: popular science, especially of the type that deals with existential issues, and especially those that blend philosophy into the debate.

I think it would be immature of me to credit all of this on the blog; a lot is to do with my rediscovery of Scientific American, which in turn has it roots in various minor events that go back all the way to Uri telling me about this magazine his brother is reading. But the blog has a part in it so I will credit it for my mightiest personal achievement of the last year:
Once again, I am back to being a thinking person.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank the one responsible for that first post, a year ago:
Thanks, Ossnat.


Uri E. said...

1. Some people read everything but don't feel the need to comment on every single post. If they were that kind of person (to comment on everything) perhaps they'd have their own blogs.

2. I could never understand how you can put a probability on the existence of god. I don't really see how you can disprove god's existence (and as I've said before, I'm not too optimistic about proving it, either).

Moshe Reuveni said...

1. Thanks for commenting... I think it's your duty to comment: you know I write most of this shit for you (well, not FOR you, but when I think of what the audience of this blog looks like, I see a you).
2. With the probability thing, my dispute is with the god we are told to believe in by the bible. Yes, the world needs to be created somehow, but what is the probability of it being created by a very sophisticated entity that would be required to go through a lot of Darwinian processes to become so sophisticated in the first place? And if you say it/he/she/they was there already, then please explain how they got to be there.
But more to the point about the god that the Jewish/Christians/Muslims (JCM) go for: What is the probability that created this world is a compassionate god (evidence shows quite the contrary)? What is the probability of this god listening to all of our thoughts? What is the likelihood of this god putting the newspaper down and getting dirty with fulfilling some of those thoughts of ours we call prayers?
The more you add to those questions, the less the likelihood, and the more you realize that if someone came up and told you a similar story taking place today you would totally dismiss them for lacking any basis.
The bottom line is that we are all agnostic, to one point or another. The question is whether we're closer to the "I'm willing to take the leap of faith and believe" or whether we're closer to "this is impossible bullshit". I'm closer to the latter, although I add a disclaimer saying that unless I see proof I cannot totally dismiss the assumption. That said, there are many other things I can't prove which no one would believe in because of their low probability - so why should I go for the JCM god in particular? That would be just chauvinism.

Somehow I doubt you will find this convincing, but one thing I will gladly say is that I don't pretend to have the answer to everything - I probably don't have the answers for anything. Neither does religion.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Allow me to further explain (or bullshit, depending on your point of view) with an example.
Let's say I claim that the one true god is my next door neighbor's cat. It would be a major effort for you - virtually impossible - for you to come all the way to Australia and risk jail just in order to skin the poor cat. But you will never, for even a second, consider my theory to be correct. Why? Because the probability of that cat being god is, well, extremely close to zero.
Now I urge you to feel free and compare this cat story to yet another feeble and very imaginative story, albeit one that we're all familiar with.