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making a difference?

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  • Jewel
    ... Why is it interesting to make a difference ? I wonder if making one make you just more-or-less leave an imprint like a dirty, greasy fingerprint on a
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 4 9:06 AM
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      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Knott" <knott12@...> wrote:

      Why is it interesting to "make a difference"? I wonder if making one
      make you just more-or-less leave an imprint like a dirty, greasy
      fingerprint on a glass, than something admirable...like something I
      cannot think of or define.

      You see, I think there is, as you say in this missive something and
      mostly everything we cannot understand, and that really the pursuit of
      understanding it, is, currently, absurd. I am not saying one should
      stop, but that certainly one should admit to making a minimalist notch
      in the notion of the idea that they have furthered the pursuit than
      that they have made a monumental notch -- be they Albert Einstein or
      Alfred E. Newman...and some the more realistic claim that they've made
      no notch at all...or can't really define what the notch looks like.

      I am not sure beauty is bound to "making a difference" any more than
      beauty is bound to something being universally 'beautiful'. I put less
      and less hope in what communally seems to be a vision for what should
      be, than a vision for what simply seems right, good, pleasing, faint,
      placid, simple, benign, and 'interesting'.
      **********

      Your perspective is very interesting and traditionally relevant to
      absurd/existentialism/nihilism discussion. And certainly I don't want
      to be told I should make a difference. How do we gauge it? Duration?
      What it encourages or defeats? Are we actually helping with our ideas
      and actions? Can we act or not act with/out impunity? What are clean
      hands?

      In my own way of thinking, I find that to "know" what constitutes
      "difference" is in several ways analogous to the no-hair theorem of
      physicist John Wheeler. We can't determine which specific type of star
      became the black hole. It seems to be there but it looks like nothing.

      Jewel
    • bartleyoreg@aol.com
      the first thing I think of when reading these posts, what does make a difference mean?? I would like to get a little personal when talking about this.? I am a
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 4 9:56 AM
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        the first thing I think of when reading these posts, what does make a difference mean?? I would like to get a little personal when talking about this.? I am a hospice volunteer, the other day when working at a hospice residential home, the mother of a patient came up to me, with tears in her eyes to thank me for being there.? I had done nothing at all with the young man that is dying. Yet this woman was it seems to me so graceful that strangers were doing what they could to help ease the suffering of her son and to listen to her pain that she had to thank me.? This morning a co-worker is in between apartments, she has to stay with her daughter until the new place is ready for her.? She is very unhappy about this for a number of reasons.? I offer her my place for a week, since I will be out of town.? Again she was so graceful.? Again I did nothing.? So are acts of small kindness differences in the world, are they absurd and meaningless?? There are times that existentialism seems to argue that small acts of kindness are absurd if we think there meaningful.?? But then I am only a middle brow in thinking.
        Michael ?


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Jewel <s1syfuss_stone@...>
        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Mon, 4 Aug 2008 9:06 am
        Subject: [existlist] making a difference?






        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Knott" <knott12@...> wrote:

        Why is it interesting to "make a difference"? I wonder if making one
        make you just more-or-less leave an imprint like a dirty, greasy
        fingerprint on a glass, than something admirable...like something I
        cannot think of or define.

        You see, I think there is, as you say in this missive something and
        mostly everything we cannot understand, and that really the pursuit of
        understanding it, is, currently, absurd. I am not saying one should
        stop, but that certainly one should admit to making a minimalist notch
        in the notion of the idea that they have furthered the pursuit than
        that they have made a monumental notch -- be they Albert Einstein or
        Alfred E. Newman...and some the more realistic claim that they've made
        no notch at all...or can't really define what the notch looks like.

        I am not sure beauty is bound to "making a difference" any more than
        beauty is bound to something being universally 'beautiful'. I put less
        and less hope in what communally seems to be a vision for what should
        be, than a vision for what simply seems right, good, pleasing, faint,
        placid, simple, benign, and 'interesting'.
        **********

        Your perspective is very interesting and traditionally relevant to
        absurd/existentialism/nihilism discussion. And certainly I don't want
        to be told I should make a difference. How do we gauge it? Duration?
        What it encourages or defeats? Are we actually helping with our ideas
        and actions? Can we act or not act with/out impunity? What are clean
        hands?

        In my own way of thinking, I find that to "know" what constitutes
        "difference" is in several ways analogous to the no-hair theorem of
        physicist John Wheeler. We can't determine which specific type of star
        became the black hole. It seems to be there but it looks like nothing.

        Jewel






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Exist List Moderator
        ... I dislike the whole Make a Difference sloganeering approach to life. It s right up there with WWJD and Thousand Points of Light as sources for
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 4 5:21 PM
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          On Aug 04, 2008, at 11:06, Jewel wrote:

          > Your perspective is very interesting and traditionally relevant to
          > absurd/existentialism/nihilism discussion. And certainly I don't want
          > to be told I should make a difference. How do we gauge it? Duration?
          > What it encourages or defeats? Are we actually helping with our ideas
          > and actions? Can we act or not act with/out impunity? What are clean
          > hands?


          I dislike the whole "Make a Difference" sloganeering approach to life.
          It's right up there with "WWJD" and "Thousand Points of Light" as
          sources for meaning.

          I've been told I must enjoy what I do, in terms of "making a
          difference" in the lives of students, parents, and educators. I
          suppose there's some merit to what I do, but in all seriousness I
          study what interests me and simply hope it interests a few other
          people. I don't try to make people love what I study and I don't
          honestly believe it matters in a universal sense -- it matters to me,
          and me alone.

          Sure, it's interesting to ponder my external influence on lives. But,
          it is not my primary drive. Much like House or Sherlock Holmes, it is
          the puzzle I love. If others benefit from my curious nature, so be it.

          - C. S. Wyatt
          I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
          that I shall be.
          http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
          http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
        • louise
          ... a difference mean?? I would like to get a little personal when talking about this.? I am a hospice volunteer, the other day when working at a hospice
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 10 10:13 AM
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            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, bartleyoreg@... wrote:
            >
            > the first thing I think of when reading these posts, what does make
            a difference mean?? I would like to get a little personal when
            talking about this.? I am a hospice volunteer, the other day when
            working at a hospice residential home, the mother of a patient came
            up to me, with tears in her eyes to thank me for being there.? I had
            done nothing at all with the young man that is dying. Yet this woman
            was it seems to me so graceful that strangers were doing what they
            could to help ease the suffering of her son and to listen to her pain
            that she had to thank me.? This morning a co-worker is in between
            apartments, she has to stay with her daughter until the new place is
            ready for her.? She is very unhappy about this for a number of
            reasons.? I offer her my place for a week, since I will be out of
            town.? Again she was so graceful.? Again I did nothing.? So are acts
            of small kindness differences in the world, are they absurd and
            meaningless?? There are times that existentialism seems to argue that
            small acts of kindness are absurd if we think there meaningful.?? But
            then I am only a middle brow in thinking.
            > Michael ?

            Michael,
            Some days have passed since you first sent this post, which has such
            a quiet honesty amid the intellectual ferment and careful
            deliberations which often prevail at the list, and set a not entirely
            gentle tone, that I should like to thank you for the expressiveness.
            This morning I was reading in Plato's dialogues, and came across a
            passage in the "Theaetetus", explaining to me what seemed like the
            same insights offered by Nietzsche, but in a more quietly
            contemplative mode, that I could more readily 'hear', concerning how
            some ways of thinking are better, not more true. Absurdity I suspect
            emerges from the condition of our bodies, our health in the broadest
            sense, which the mind then interprets in a creative or abstract
            fashion, encouraging or surrendering the will, to go on with courage,
            or to succumb, in various ways. I think the acts of small kindness
            you describe are absolutely meaningful, because subjective, and
            unforced.
            Louise
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