March 22, 2008

Pleasant Conversations

I thought one of my cats (Edward the Black Prince, to be precise) was doing much better after a wound he had sustained the week before cleared up and healed over. The hair had grown back, and he was moving much better and eating well.

Then part of his leg fell off.

So off we went to the vet for stitches, antibiotics, and a $500 bill. On the plus side, I had a couple lovely conversations in utterly stereotypical locations:

The first was at the coffee shop/organic bakery that the Significant Other works at: it was with someone I had never met before, and mostly we talked about her and her partner finishing their house (which looks fantastic), and how the valley is a marvelous place, and various ways in which people could reduce our environmental footprint. The three Rs were a large part of it, but so was reducing water use, buying local goods and produce, and (eventually) the crop circle that formed beside her house one night and how amazing this writer is. Which goes to show agreeing on many things does not mean agreeing on all of them. My last email to her, after I checked out the web site, ended with this:

"I'll take a more thorough look at Mr. Silva's web site (and get his book from the library), but I do have to tell you that what I've seen so far isn't impressing me. Much of what he's mentioning covers standard New Age territory, with very little that's actually new. He covers faith healing; charged water (relying on the infamous Marsaro Emoto experiments); a variety of deisms (for the same reason Sylvia Browne does - so he's not seen as a threat to anyone's beliefs); Natural Law ("those who died on 9/11 chose to die"); angels; dowsing; and even orgone (!), of all things. And he wraps it up with the bog-standard "If this doesn't work for you, it's your fault" caveat. I've encountered all of these before, either on their own or in various combinations, and I can't say the encounters left a good impression. He does seem to leave aliens out of the picture, which is a little surprising, but he goes on about "benevolent intelligence" guiding various people and things, so I suppose that's vague enough to include them as a possibility.

I don't actually mind if you believe in these things, so long as you don't mind that I think they are, well, silly."

Which is pretty much leaving things in her court. But I do value honesty, and if that's a breaking point for her, best she know now.

So after dropping off Edward, I had a few hours to kill so I spent it in my favorite book store (Watermark Books on Salt Spring Island). I was talking with Sherri about various forms of belief and what inspires people to them (Pleasant Conversation #2), when another gentleman came into the shop and joined in (creating Pleasant Conversation the third). It was a conversation in free-flow, eventually ending up at the idea of gods, where I mentioned on of the few things I agreed with Christopher Hitchens about: that religion was humanity's first effort to understand the world around itself. Notably, that religion was our first science, our first morality, our first mathematics, our first politics, et cetera.

Ends up the gentleman in question was a philosopher, and he strongly disagreed with the premise I mentioned on two grounds: the first, that to extrapolate what was intended by the remnants of ancient civilizations we've discovered is nearly impossible, and to project farther back into what first societies were like was an hypothetical exercise only; and secondly that without a method or exploration, it could not be considered ant type of science.

Both of these are certainly valid points, and the three of us had a lively talk about what societies may have been like, why religion may have formed, was this drive toward belief an innate feature of humans in general (even if not in us three specifically), and how could we tell anyways?

All told, despite a three day hospital stay for Edward, I can only recommend getting your cat sick to spur the mind. Or I suppose you could visit more coffee shops and book stores - I don't care how much you like espressos, that's got to be the cheaper option.

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posted by Thursday at 4:10 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger beautiful_lights said...

Would you be willing to share more information about your friend's crop circle? I'm a member of a group called the Independant Crop Circle Researcher's Associations, ICCRA.(In the US) We are in the process of creating our web site and currently report our findings to Crop Circle Connector & www.cropcirclescience.org. I'm interested in when, where, shape, and what type of plant or was it in snow or ice, since you said "winter"?

1:56 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

Um... Where did I mention "winter"? Perhaps you misread "writer" at the link? You can click on that if you like - though, as I mention, there isn't anything very interesting behind it. In any case, if she reads this post, I'm sure she'll go to the address you helpfully provided if she wishes.

3:24 pm  

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