Kids & Autopoiesis

While I sit here at my home desk I have in the background a perfect, living example for the phenomena of autopoiesis.

It is wonderful to witness this permanent story invention loop. Switching roles (and the voice). Multiple self dialogues. Reminds me on my childhood, when I could spend hours creating action stories. Extending and remixing the input of Star Wars, Spiderman & Co.

And meanwhile teens are beheaded because they just want to be … teens … humans. It is disgusting.

A nerdy declaration of love

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The other day we spoke at home with our 6yr old son about the number pi. Not really in a detailed way – just mentioning that this number is useful if one wants to calculate circle related issues. We explained him also, that the number sequence behind the comma is endless… eternal so to say.

During the following evening ritual suddenly he said:

Mom, Dad – I love you like the number pi.

Kierkegaard, Goethe and the ontological tertium non datur

Again a blog post of Nick Nielsen triggered me spontaneously. In order to give the reader the chance to follow the development and following thougts, I am so free and copy’n’paste the short discussion from Facebook.


 Mark Lambertz: I experience the imperfection as perfection. The non-stopping transition as a ever-evolving chance. What a joy one could experience to accept his incompleteness, while balancing over this very thin rope in order to approach a/”the” complete state. y=1/x.

Geopolicraticus Strategist: Then you are in the good company of Kierkegaard (Lessing has said: “If God held all truth enclosed in his right hand, and in his left hand the one and only ever-striving drive for truth, even with the corollary of erring forever and ever, and if he were to say to me: Choose! — I would humbly fall down to him at his left hand and say: Father, give! Pure truth is indeed only for you alone!”) and Goethe (Wer immer strebend sich bemüht, Den können wir erlösen.).

Mark Lambertz: Oh man, you give me really each time new ‘thought nuts’ For the moment I will say: My answer is a clear ‘Jain’ – the combo of Ja (yes) and Nein (no). Will get back to you – there is also still your question open ‘What is it that makes us think?’ But now I will walk on a Croation mountain with Renata – maybe this will help in sorting my thoughts.

Before I try to break down my (transitional ;-)) answer to the shortest possible amount of words, I want to explain my personal background/self-education, since I believe that it would help to put my answer into context. Or to describe it in a satirical way: I have the black belt in complicated intros! 🙂 Also I want to apologize if the following text sounds too much like a soul strip – but since it is a personal question I have to be personal.

At first: I have never read a complete book of any philosopher. My philosophical knowledge is a wild mix of magazine articles, essays, fragments of blog posts that I have read and discussions with friends who *really* studied (BTW: I was once officially subscribed in an university, and I think I saw the faculty building almost 12 times from the inside – including the registration and de-registration).

I spent almost 18 years in building and co-leading a digital agency in Germany. My whole “career” was/is characterized by transitions. I started as a network administrator and 3D artist/3D modelling. After ca. six months I started to “program” HTML (non-linear storytelling). About three years later I switched towards the primary role of project management (by then my company had already a small programming unit). Then I changed my role again and focused on concepts and consultation. And in the last couple of years my focus was infilled with pure strategic work and new business development (and still to much project management – that is the problem when you acquire new clients – they do not want to let you go, once you convinced them…). Of course there also some very personal changes/transitions I have experienced, but for the moment I will not to mention them, because I hope that the basic point has already evolved: I am not the greatest “linearist”. >Even though I secretly wish it would have been that easy – I have made a consistent experience of non-linearity. Life told my this story.

So … why do I wrote “Jain”? Because on the one hand I feel as if my whole life was and is a continuous balancing act. On the other hand I do not trust zero/one – black/white-patterns. There is IMHO no perfection – and if one day “a god” would appear in front of me, I would challenge this “star maker”. Because deep down to the bone I am a scepticist – enriched by a certain flavor of optimism and hidden idealism. Therefore the Kierkegaard example fits to me only up to a certain extend. It fits, since I do not “believe” in absolute perfection (believe in terms of: proven by my subjective life experience). One could say that I am a “relativistic relativist”. But yes: for sure I would like to know the “essence” – and I would no hesitate a nanosecond to get “Gods answer”. Actually somebody must hold me back, not to give God a 360°-Chuck Norris-round kick in order to get the “final” solution.

But after I would have smashed him down (in a sports man style, not like a aggro kiddie nowadays), I would be VERY skeptic if this appearance is really God. So some tests would be obligatory:

  • Make him prove that this is God (e.g. by creating a new universe or healing my *fucked up* varicose leg veins)
  • Making jokes about himself (because one can not be God if “it” is not able to make jokes about himself)
  • And some other ideas, which I might publish another day 😉

Probably still, after all these tests, I would doubt that this is really God. I do not know why, but this positive-skepticism seems to be somehow deeply imprinted inside of me.

Regarding Goethe: Yes, that is a stance that I can agree with. I think it is worth to “optimize” ourself = our civilization by at least trying harder, in order to get closer to something that could be named “absoluteness” (not in a calvinistic diligence-context/manner).

But this absoluteness is to me nothing but a ever changing/transitional momentum of existence. We as a civilization may have a common, higher meaning/use (e.g. survive, develop, explore), but we are judged for our current decisions (inequality, super basic existential needs for the critical mass on this planet, funding of important scientific questions). Therefore I always ask myself: is “it” good enough (no matter which existential subject is concerned) ? Is it sustainable? Will it “really” pay off the “higher” goals? Must it always be a decision between A and B? Is it really (in the ontologically sense) a tertium non datur? I guess I am aware, that we as humans have probably an evolutionary need to break down questions into yes/no-patterns. But this pattern seems to me to be too comfortable. Too easy. Paracelsus once said (freely quoted): Poison is a matter of the dosis.

So … I am honestly interested, which philosopher might be close to what I have written.

PS: Sorry for closing the comments, but I am sick of fighting spam. But I will add your reply to this post, in order to complete this sequence (if it is worth to you to answer).

Humanity, evolution and the relativity of comfort

Actually I wanted to connect to my last post regarding the externalization of a search for a higher being and humans evolutionary heritage. I wanted to use the example of our desire for food (evolutionary given, easy to understand) and the agent detector (idea of evolutionary psychology) which was mentioned in my earlier post. But then I ate lunch with my in-laws and the plan slightly changed.

We sat today together to have a little “celebration lunch” of the 42nd year of their marriage. Somehow I mentioned that I personally never experienced real hunger (in order to direct the conversation to the point how sated the “rich” class on this planet is – the lack of self-discipline = connect argument-wise to the hyperactive agent detector, which also IMHO should be put into the atavism shelf).

Then the talk took a different direction (due to privacy reasons I will not publish the name of my father-in-law – I just call him “Z”, which is actually the first capital of his first name).

But to give the reader a chance to follow my quite emotional thoughts, I have to give you some background information. My wife left Sarajevo just a couple of months before the war started and the following siege of the city (1991). The rest of her family stayed in Sarajevo – and they experienced four years of war, trapped in a valley. Surrounded by a war machine.

There were the grenades, local combats and much more morally devastating the snipers. The snipers were paid in “Deutsch Marks” (DM) – a sniper got 100 DM for a man, women and children of course were just worth 50 DM. Perfidiously it was the idea not to kill the citizens – but to shoot them into their knees or hips. Because a sudden death would have been to easy. A suffering enemy has a higher value than a dead person.  And it produces medical costs for the opponents. Also the water canisters where a popular target. I feel like I have to vomit, if I try to imagine what kind of human one must be to follow this rationalization of terror.

My wife once told me that, while she was a civilian war refugee in the US, watched a TV report about the siege of Sarajevo. Suddenly she recognized that one of the snipers as one which whom she was doing skydiving in the pre-war times. I can not imagine what kind of feeling this observance must have triggered… How disillusioned one must be after realizing this sub-human morality.

But back to the lunch talk. I started/triggered the war memories by mentioning that I never experienced real hunger – I just can fairly imagine what it means. Or in other terms – once when I just moved out of my parents house I had money problems – so I had to “survive” with a certain amount of money. I was hungering for maybe one and a half day, till I got that money to buy some potatoes, onions, oil and eggs (salt and pepper was still in the house). So I can assure the reader, that I have no clue what real, lasting hunger means and does to ones moral habits. I had a well-arranged perspective – no real worries – just a personal level of pride which lead me to a point of view, where I hesitated to ask for help.

At the lunch the parents of my wife said, that they had for four years no water, electricity and safe supply of food (not to mention medical supplies). Getting to the water source meant a trip of ca. 1o km. A trip where it was not unlikely to be hit by a grenade or shot by a sniper.

*A big knot grew in my neck, listening to this daily experience*

Then he spoke about a few bizarre, almost funny incidents which I want to write down as long as the memory is fresh:

– One day, the war was still “new” and people in the city did not know how to behave in a war, Z was on the road to get some water. He saw a guy, running away from machine gun fire, holding his hands over his head. The guy said to Z: “Take care! There are machine guns!” Z said: “Don’t worry, they are from our side”. The guy responded: “From which of our  side?” 

– Z wanted to meet a guy who brought some meat for the family – so he went out, even thoug it was the “policy hour” – when everybody was expected to stay inside. But still he went out, and in the middle of a bridge that he was passing, out of the sudden, a super bright light of a UN tank put light on him – so he was SUPER well visible for the snipers. The UN soldier asked, what he was doing at that time of the night on the street – and said, that he wanted to help Z. Brilliant – by making him a target…

– Around Z’s home was the only broadcasting radio station of Sarajevo – it was in a building which was good protected from snipers and grenades. Z walked along by the building when a guy from the radio station stopped him to ask a question. Z took the time to answer the guys question. 10 to 15 seconds later a grenade exploded at the point where he would have been. So if he would have not responded to the guys question, he would have been blown away. He felt like a lucky bastard.

There are more stories that I heard, but I guess the reader gets an idea about the war experience and its absurdity.

Z said that he is actually thinking about writing about these events. But not to push the tragedy, but actually to point out the almost humorous aspects of the incidents. I want to encourage him in doing so, even so many stories and movies have been published since then. But I am convinced that HIS message should be transmitted to the next but one generation – his grandchildren (of course when they are old enough to follow this experience, maybe around 8 to 10 yrs).

As long as there is a reminiscence of war, we have to recall our ancestors memory. We have to remember what has happened to make sure, that humans never ever do this to other humans again. And we as a civilization should be angry, and develop a constructive resistance against fear, which leads to hate, which leads to war. It would be such a waste of potential, if we would end up killing each other, instead of developing our planet, while working on interstellar travel. Yup. I mean it.