Steve3007 wrote: the line "imagine no possessions" is easy to pour scorn on, given Lennon's considerable material wealth.
That might depend on exactly what he meant by that line. I have no idea what he actually did mean but I do know from my own experience that possessions can weigh you down and become a real burden and I can well see how divesting yourself of them could be a very positive and liberating exercise. Maybe John was happier when he was poor and is lamenting his subsequent good fortune, who knows?
If interested, there's an article in PhilosophyNow (issue 52) by Gary Tillery, 2005.
'The Philosophy of John Lennon'. You can read 4 free articles a month.
Posted: November 1st, 2017, 10:50 am
Steve3007 wrote:John Lennon's song (which he said should really have been co-credited to Yoko Ono) often seems to be used as the ultimate example of hopeless hippy idealism/hypocrisy. In particular, the line "imagine no possessions" is easy to pour scorn on, given Lennon's considerable material wealth. ("Some people don't have to imagine it John, with your pink Rolls Royce and your fancy white house with a big piano in it...")
But is there a role in life for this kind of hopeless idealism? Is there a place in the world for people who can ignore the accusations of hypocrisy and unrealistic fantasy and keep their eyes fixed on the ideal? Or are we all pragmatists nowadays?
In 'The Philosophy of John Lennon' (PhilosophyNow Issue 52), Gary Tillery asks:
'What is it like to be a Beatle? He argues that Lennon's pronouncements, both cynical and idealistic, reveal a sincere and original thinker'.
There's a full section dedicated to 'Imagine'.
I don't think that it is an either/or situation. We can imagine a brighter, better future and also take practical steps towards it.
The artist, here, heightened our awareness and brought attention to the here and now. Inspiration for an alternative way of life...
What we can achieve...if only we have the imagination.
Posted: November 1st, 2017, 11:04 am
'Imagine all the people sharing all the world'
It is not easy if you try. Just think of the realities; the need for taxes...
That was the point of the OP. Clearly if you take a pragmatic view and start thinking of the mundane practicalities of the problem, then "all the people sharing all the world" is a pipe dream. But I was wondering if there is still a place in the world for pipe dreams despite the fact that they obviously can't be directly translated into government taxation policy.
I find it interesting that the Quiet Beatle was George Harrison and he was the one that got irate enough to write the song 'Taxman'. With a little help from his friend...
Yes. Ironic. A very, very specific, matter-of-fact song about early 1970's punitive taxation policy by the British governments of the time. (Lead, as the song reminds us, by Mr Wilson and Mr Heath.)
Another irony is that the opening guitar riff sounds very much like "What you give is what you get" by The Jam - led by Paul Weller who used to say that his dream was to take part in a socialist revolution. Maybe that was his little joke.
-- Updated Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:04 am to add the following --
Error: "What you give is what you get" was actually called "Start!".
Thanks for the heads-up on 'Start' and Paul Weller thoughts. Yes, well spotted
Oh, and I've responded elsewhere to your other points.
Posted: November 2nd, 2017, 3:29 am
In 'The Philosophy of John Lennon' (PhilosophyNow Issue 52), Gary Tillery asks:
'What is it like to be a Beatle? He argues that Lennon's pronouncements, both cynical and idealistic, reveal a sincere and original thinker'. There's a full section dedicated to 'Imagine'.
Interesting. I'll have a look.
People have been making grand claims for the words of the Beatles, and then satirizing those claims, since the mid 60's. There was of course the very funny satire by Peter Sellers in the satirical TV show "That Was the Week That Was" when he did a great imitation of Laurence Olivier performing "Hard Days Night", Richard III style. I think it was a comment on some University professor comparing Beatles' lyrics to Shakespeare.
Lennon and McCartney seemed to enjoy this and obviously appreciated the point of the satire. I think Lennon was always philosophical enough to recognize the humour and absurdity of his position. Hence his joke about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus which was, predictably enough, blown up into a scandal.
I think John Lennon would have loved The Simpsons.
Posted: March 12th, 2018, 1:43 pm
by Jan Sand
Perhaps it might be interesting to examine the concept of not having possessions from the point of view of the way society is now progressing. It is only a few years since automation and artificial intelligence has entered our society to any extent and predictions currently indicate that only a few decades from now a very large percentage of the jobs will become obsolete so it might be very difficult or impossible to earn enough to have many possessions. But when the work and money systems finally largely break down the machinery will still be able to make anything anybody might want. If you want a car or a house pr an airplane it can be produced with no human effort and that goes, just as well, with underwear and electric toasters. If you want it you can take it at no expense, but then you have to take care of it which is a lot of work when you probably would prefer to do something else. But if there is so much free stuff maybe you'd rather just use it and when you were finished, give it back to the robots to take care of it. Why would you want to keep it?
Posted: April 28th, 2018, 11:19 pm
by Jan Sand
If the world as we know it survives the insane military joy in nuclear weapons, the psychotic demand of those in power to capture any objection to their dominance with intrusive digital invasions of any contrariwise thought, the inevitable conversion of all natural forces to death for life on the planet by making it profitable, or the unexpected alien wisdoms of artificial intellect to get rid of the nuisance of humanity out of the logic of exterminating human idiocy, we may be entering an era wherein all possessions will be produced automatically with no or very little labor, much as the way existed on the planet before humans initiated the quite peculiar concept of civilization. Since humanity's inherent talent, displayed throughout all history, was to create horrible social inter-relationships to benefit the nastiest section of the species, this final ultimate freedom, no doubt, will be quite revealing to any admirer of Lennon's dream as to the inherent nature of the species.
... before humans initiated the quite peculiar concept of civilization.
Do you think that people choose to cram up like sardines, to live in ever greater gridlock, competition, noise and pollution? Or is it just survival?
Remember all those tribes that lived harmoniously from the bountiful land (and occasionally ate their neighbours)? They were taken over by invaders who were honed and hardened by the pressures of generations of dense population.
Natural selection has always favoured civilisation - people cramming up to the point of discomfort - which of course that is what we see rather than people still living wild. There was never any choice involved - humans were effectively condemned to the annoyances and problems of civilisation by natural selection, which at least seems preferable to us to the discomfort and dangers of the wild.
Posted: April 29th, 2018, 1:53 am
by Jan Sand
Actually, I have lived in several countries and found in current civilization some quite acceptable neighbors and quite a few whose only possibly useful abilities came down to their physical gifts as rather delectable meals. Particularly, amongst the current world politicians and successful businessmen I have little doubts that their possible contributions as steaks and pot roasts would far outweigh their current activities towards starting a third world war. There are lots of starving people within this civilization you so admire that would be quite happy to accept that contribution.
Posted: April 29th, 2018, 2:15 am
I can admire humanity - and the rest of Earth's nature - without believing any of it is perfect, or necessarily safe or convenient.
You can focus at the dark side but I find most people to be well meaning and just trying to live a good life. When has there been fairness and equality in humanity or any other part of nature? Do we expect all boats of humanity to rise at the same time at the same rate? Do we expect the powerful not to leverage their positions? It's all mess but it's taken us from microbe to now, which is still a much better time in history for most people than any other (unless one counts the scope of human history in decades).
Posted: April 29th, 2018, 2:44 am
by Jan Sand
Whatever the good fortunes of many people in the Western countries and, admittedly there is a sizable number, there are several millions of USA citizens (in the richest country in the world) who simply cannot get sufficient food and medical care to stay alive (and that includes lots of children). The rest of the world, torn by war and corruption, are far, far worse off and I cannot find that acceptable. With massive die-offs of wild life including vitally needed insects to see to that flowers become edible crops, with the totally psychotic military ready at a moment's notice to destroy life on the planet, with global warming inspiring completely negligible response and the relatively safer nations already erecting insuperable barriers to the billions of fleeing refugees expected when the planetary heat becomes intolerable to life, I can only consider optimism as evidence that the species in control is totally incompetent in caring for the only planet we all can live on. Talk of moving to Mars as if a planet can be discarded like a candy wrapper, is just as nuts as the rest of the species behaves. It is of little consequence if the bulk of humanity is of good intention if they have not the basic good sense to save their lives.
Posted: April 29th, 2018, 7:15 pm
Jan, you still harbour under the illusion that all this could have been avoided, as if population pressure was not always going to be the problem. Do you think we'd all suddenly wake up and think, "Gosh, we are breeding too much. We'd better do something about it". No, even if as many as two billion people think that way, the other 4+ billion will keep churning out the babies.
Even if humans were perfect in ALL of the ways that you so loathe about them, maybe that would buy us a matter of decades. If we were lucky, it could buy us an extra century because, in good conditions, our breeding would then accelerate. To believe otherwise is to buy into a false utopian fantasy that is at odds with everything we know about nature, including its human component. In terms of human and other complex life, buying a couple of extra centuries is significant, but in terms of the big picture in evolutionary time scales, most likely not.
Failing major events like asteroid strikes, today's situation was inevitable from the start due to human mental advantages. If you find that hard to accept I suggest you file a formal complaint with the planet about its poor performance and the incompetent model it's foisted upon us - using humans as agents of change to restructure itself, just as the blue-green algae did before us.
To believe that humans are above nature and operating beyond it is to unwittingly buy into superstitious religious notions of human divinity. Humans have no choice but to be part of Earth's nature, no more than any other species, at least until space travel. The changes humans bring are not like cancers and parasites because they create zones of extreme order, while cancer and parasites always turn order to relative chaos. To label humans a cancer is to call the imaginal discs of metamorphosing insects "cancers" rather than destructive and reconstructive agents of change.
Further, as explained before (but you don't seem to believe the science!), complex life on Earth will soon dying out whether humans are present or not. I know you don't believe me when I tell you this but it's mainstream scientific knowledge. In one billion years the oceans boil away due to the Sun's expansion. Do you think life would be flourishing right up until the temperature is 100C? An increase of 7-10C would result in numerous catastrophic wildfires so the temperate does not need to reach boiling point before complex life goes away - and the temperature will rise rapidly in what is the Earth's dotage.
Jan, life on Earth is relatively about as old as you are, and if if doesn't reproduce, then that's it for EVERYTHING about the Earth and its history - boiled off into space, known by no one, ever. Life here is about four billion years old. Let's be absurdly generous and say it has half a billion years left to live (that it adapts to extreme heat, fire and ocean acidification). Then life would have completed 8/9th of its span, about 88%.
Without humans, in a matter of mere millions of years the story of complex life on Earth is over. That's the end - just waiting for the Sun to expand and obliterate it all as if it never happened. With humans, life from Earth has a chance of starting again and for the story to be known and to continue into deep time.
Posted: April 29th, 2018, 11:18 pm
by Jan Sand
I have been accused of deep pessimism for my disdain of the futile current efforts humanity is making to continue on this planet even though there is no lack of information on the nature and cause of the oncoming disasters but your attitude that the fate of humanity and much of the planet's life is immensely more frightening and pessimistic, somewhat in the vein of the theological subjugation of a future entirely dependent on the will of some dominating deity which is impossible to avoid. In contrast, my screams of despair have, at their root, some kind of root hope and wonder at humanity's potential to be aroused to use its marvelous ingenuity to grasp possibility to turn this insanity around and face the reality of possibilities to survive. I am in love with Lennon as what a human future still can be and still believe that an awakening humanity can sustain. Musk's concept of shipping a tin can full of suicides to Mars is a way of ensuring a future may seem a cruel effort for hope almost as evil as Obama's administration where a black man can pretend to create the proper equalities deserved for people with dark skin color while pandering to the worst criminals in the military and the totally vicious psychotics in charge of Wall Street. At least Musk is trying in the right direction which sensibly would create a sensible manufacturing infrastructure on the Moon with reasonable launch capabilities into the solar system and beyond and safely close to Earth to provide a technological playground with the safety of the mother planet for quick retreat in emergencies. I see no super intellect in charge of the universe but still find this planet and its Moon strangely accommodating for a base to move outward and this is not a fantasy. As much as I am appalled by humanity's persistent idiocies my screams are for its still real possibilities and I cannot escape my deep love for all life on this wonderful world. There is no predetermined fate and our inherent blindness to what may occur in the next ten minutes is not a curse but a gift to encourage us to take hold of possibilities and use the good sense that many of us still retain to stay alive.
I have been accused of deep pessimism for my disdain of the futile current efforts humanity is making to continue on this planet even though there is no lack of information on the nature and cause of the oncoming disasters but your attitude that the fate of humanity and much of the planet's life is immensely more frightening and pessimistic, somewhat in the vein of the theological subjugation of a future entirely dependent on the will of some dominating deity which is impossible to avoid. In contrast, my screams of despair have, at their root, some kind of root hope and wonder at humanity's potential to be aroused to use its marvelous ingenuity to grasp possibility to turn this insanity around and face the reality of possibilities to survive.
No, you are pessimistic. I am just facing the simple fact that evolution need not be convenient for its denizens.
You seem to resent me for reporting the science - it's not my fault that the Sun is ageing!
Posted: April 30th, 2018, 4:59 am
by Jan Sand
Just by changing the language you deceive yourself about the nature of what you call facts. There is nothing absolute about what may happen about four billion years from now. Evolution is a process of living mechanisms reacting to current conditions and the mechanisms of living dynamics have potentials far beyond the simple necessities of evolution. We each started our existences as a single cell so that a single cell has all the potentials of becoming a complete creature, human or otherwise. Science is at the very dawn of its potentials in this type of manipulation. If we can grow a heart from a common cell, the potential for totally repairing a heart is all there if we can discover how. No need to wait for accidental mutation to make functional novel organs or entire creatures, once we can understand how the process does what it does we can become creatures quite strange to what we now know. If I need to breathe underwater, once I understand the processes, I can grow a set of gills or generate a forefinger into a gun if and when I need it. Robots can be produced with interchangeable parts and humans or other animals can be equally adaptive once we pick up the right tricks. Major advances in these areas have been made in a few decades and we have hardly started to move in the right directions. In a few centuries, if we don't succumb to the total nincompoops now in charge we will stop being separate species and become life itself as a force to move out throughout the stars. Humans are a minuscule beginning but it is a special form and the universe, even on the Moon or Mars, or even in the hell of Venus, is a place to use and when we start to grow up there is no place where us humans, fish, octopuses, bats, bumblebees, and everybody else will join together to start our adventures outwards together. And, of course, there are possible other universes once we learn to manufacture functional black holes.
Just by changing the language you deceive yourself about the nature of what you call facts. There is nothing absolute about what may happen about four billion years from now.
Don't grasp at straws, Jan. I was reading about a similar objection by flat Earthers this morning. Of course nothing absolute per se but (sans catastrophic cosmic events like pulsar blasts or rogue objects) the Sun will expand in a matter of billions of years because every star's lifespan is largely determined by mass. People and dogs of the same size don't have the same longevity but stars do.
So, if humans don't devise some extraordinary technology, biology on the Earth's surface is well into its old age, humans or not. Most of us hope to leave some legacy rather than just be a blip in a night, and I hope that the Earth will have a legacy beyond its fate of being engulfed by the Sun. To what end, people ask?
That depends on whether one believes that the Earth and its life are unique and alone, or if life on other worlds will gradually spread out as humans did on the Earth. Is it not a good thing that ancient cultures were keen to make a legacy, leaving artefacts and writings that helped moderns to better understand what had happened? Are we like the first humans to leave Africa,
Jan Sand wrote:In a few centuries, if we don't succumb to the total nincompoops now in charge we will stop being separate species and become life itself as a force to move out throughout the stars.
My point has been, and continues to be, that "we" is a relative term. "We" can refer to all of humanity on the Earth in the biosphere, or it can refer to smaller groups. However, when it comes to the practicalities, the "we" becomes more tenuous. Billions of people and animals are not being sent into space. A very select few - or perhaps only AI plus the data and DNA need to rebuild - will go to the stars. Any people sent on long haul space trips will need to be massively genetically engineered, perhaps to a point where they could not live on Earth without survival gear.
Thus, in a matter of thousands of years most humans and their lines will be effectively dead - that is locked in unless scientists learn to control the weather. The space program is about preserving something, not everything. Alas, God is planning to use Noah's ark as a prop in the upcoming Big Armageddon Show, so it's unavailable for hire to save all the people and critters ...
Note that the "nincompoops" are the ones most likely to survive the upcoming firestorms - at our expense. Haven't you noticed? Survival of the fittest translates to survival of the wealthiest in humans. So right wing climate denialist politicians are being less stupid than they are being selfish - effectively cutting loose their children and grandchildren. It amazes me that so many young people still vote for conservative politicians who are clearly selling out the young.