Are you irrelevant in the scheme of things?
Who, me? Not to me I’m not. And I can only view "the scheme of things" from my point of view. Therefore to me I’m the centre of the universe. And that’s not being selfish. That’s just true - for everyone. And the sooner more people realised that the better, I say (from my point of view of course.)
Thank you for raising this important question.
To quote the Marx Brothers:
(in Courtroom)Chicolini: Now I ask you one, whats has a trunk but no key , weighs 2000lbs and lives in a circus
Prosecutor: That’s irrelevant
Chicolini : Irrelevant, hey that’s the correct answer.
What I do in the bedroom is my business.
I am a piper and have neighbors.
No, I am not irrelevant. :-)
What am ‘I’ ? What might ‘relevance’ entail ? What is ‘the scheme of things’ ? Please provide precise definitions mehitabel23, so that this ontological investigation may proceed meaningfully toward a fruitful outcome…
I thought the answer had been worked out to be 42…….
Probably not. I suspect I cause it havoc every waking moment. But I am too obtuse to know for sure.
Often, our threads descend into irrelevant arguments. This one beat them all, and is irrelevant from the start! ;-)
no it’s not.
On this site, I’m nothing but zeros and ones. Oh no, here we go with that numbers thing again…
Well, maybe from your point of view, KML, but not from mine! ;-)
Are you concluding that relevance is subjective?
Lets get that ‘wolfbird’ guy involved, this is becoming his type of topic! ;-)
If you’re nothing but zeros and ones, pbassnote, can I be infinity, please ? :-)
I guess a lot of people would like to be more relevant than they are, because a lot of people have a ‘will to power’ and would like to control situations and other people. I suppose it is a buzz to be able to push others around, rather than have them kick you around. I think that’s what motivates most politicians, although they try to disguise their will to power as being ‘desire to make the world a better place’…it’s all rather shallow and ridiculous. I favour a more serious and productive approach, ways to get control of one’s own life, e.g.
I’d have to say that the subject of relatives is completely irrelevant, unless they play music, then it may be important. :-P
"Lets get that ‘wolfbird’ guy involved",
Ha,ha. Ok, AlBrown,just so long as I can practice my Lojong and be inconsistent…:-)
I am utterly irrelevant in he great scheme of things, especially ITM. I’m not Irish and however hard I try, however much I practice, however many records I buy or gigs I go to, I am still crap.
My kids think I’m irrelevant therefore I am…..that’s my ontological, epistemological and post positivist assumption. My paradigms may become paradoxical as my conception of time and space advances, if time and space should exist and are not just figments of our post modern imaginations. In the mean time I will play diddley music as an avoidance technique against the challenges of philosophical thought thus attempting to make this thread relevant. :-P
How about this…I was once sitting on the patio of a pub drinking a guiness in the morning…like, sometimes a couple of pints give that ‘instant holiday medicine’ feeling…which I needed, because I didn’t like my life. And I had a sort of stream of imaginings, that I was in the middle of a bubble, and that all the reality around me was like a video projection onto the surface of the bubble…just a silly notion really.
But a few weeks later, I was in Greece, drinking at a slightly similar bar, and remembered the previous time, and had a sort of epiphany. I’d travelled thousands of miles, but all I had done was change the effing wallpaper on the inside of my bubble. And I still didn’t like my life any better.
So, I decided, what i really wanted was control over the wall paper. I wanted to sit in the centre of my bubble, and be able to enjoy the view. And I got what I wanted. I’ve had it for twenty years, and have liked my life more than I can express…
Yes. And given the scheme of things, glad of it.
The scheme of things encompasses what?
All of us. All that there is. The scheme of things is everything. To say any part of everything is irrelevant is to say that all of it is irrelevant.
…which it may be, but now I’m rapidly approaching Swami wolfbird territory here…
Take care, SWFL. You start calling me Swammi, next thing I’ll be demanding you kneel and kiss my Doc Martins before requesting Enlightenment…and the next step, I’ll be on USA tv asking for you all to send in donations so I can save you..
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
I have always found this question difficult (well, since being asked it by my friend last week before a choir performance. I spent the whole time thinking about the answer, and I even forgot to come in in the right places because I was too busy thinking. This is not like me.)
One minute I’m sure that I’m not irrelevant - isn’t anyone, who accomplishes anything, relevant? But then, to the vast majority of people, I’m not at all relevant. I make no odds to the life of nearly everyone! But if I’m irrelevant, who *is* relevant? Is anyone relevant? Why are several people together relevant, but one person is not? Does relavance correlate with power? With good works? With wealth? With merit?
(Ask this question to your teachers, children, it’s funny)
How relevant and/or irrelevant I am depends on which musician whom you ask that question of.
Also, Key Maniac Lad, The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy doesn’t have the answer to this question either.
mehitabel23, the question is impossible to answer, because it’s framed so badly….(it’s as dumb as Bush’s ‘war on terror’…I mean war *is* terror, for a lot of people, and it’s impossible to declare war on an *abstract word*…)…so unless you can at least qualify ‘relevance’ ,with, ‘to whom ?’ ,or, ‘for what ?’, the question doesn’t make sense, so cannot receive a sensible answer.
Do you mean, are you relevant to this site, or to ITM, or to your own life, or the history of the world, or what ?
A woman tried to assassinate Lenin. She forgot her glasses, so when she fired her gun, she missed. She’s pretty darned irrelevant to anything. But if she’d remembered her glasses and been successful, she’d have changed the whole history of the last century, and I suppose that’d make her relevant, because it’d have effected hundreds of millions of people’s lives.
I am going to foolishly wade into these cynical waters and attempt to answer this question as if it were asked in spirit of genuine knowledge seeking in relation to this music -
Anyone who spends hours upon years learning tunes - those of us who show up week after week to our local sessions - the time and money spent at camps and other gatherings - are all relevant because we keep this whole thing in motion and become the embodiment of the term "living tradition."
Lets face it - we are a tiny blip on the overall musical landscape - music folk geeks separated from other groups of nerds only by our massive alcohol consumption and faux-celtic tattoos. Therefore we exist and remain relevant by our participation in this music. "Jigito ergo Sum" - I jig therefore I am.
Sorry wolf, your references to Lojong exclude you from any American TV-related pop religious swindling. You need to proceed more along the lines of Bible-thumping while screaming, polyester suits and horrible fake hair pieces.
…and three cheers for Jusa Nutter’s pep talk! That’s good shtuff.
Hm. Pity, SWFL. I was looking forward to the sex scandal furore and confessing on prime time chat shows with a Donald Trump style dead wolverine on my head. Oh well. Just not cut out for the glory, I suppose. Back to the familiar destitution and obscurity…oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be learning ‘eel in the sink’ not wasting time being a guru…
Wolfbird, I can’t qualify the question further! Take the scheme of things to mean, well, everything! Or cut it off entirely. Are you relevant? Do you matter? I’m not trying to make it easy to answer, nor, maybe, am I looking for sensible answers.
This isn’t a philosophy extended essay…amuse me, enlighten me, whatever.
Grego’s thoughts mirror my own. Human beings are one of the *most* relevant products of the universe - at least of things we know about and can observe.
Relish the fact that you’re at the cutting edge of relevancy!
Thanks Rev, but before an angry mob gathers I need to properly reference the quote…
[Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.]
mehitabel23, If I write ‘Do you say’, it’s nonsense. Immediately, you want to know ‘Do you say *what*? I now I can’t do anything about it, but I do lament the destruction of the English language by politicians and ad men and corporations, so that everyone ends up talking meaningless Orwellian double-speak. Like Tesco’s slogan ‘Every little helps’…every little what ? helps who? Tesco’s profit margins ?
Ok. I’ll try again. If you mean yourself, a young woman, and ask whether your existence has any meaning in the world….well, not a lot. There’s billions of others. You’ll never know them or the stories of their lives, nor will they know you. Amongst the people you do know, you may be, or become, very significant in their lives. If you wish to have wider influence, you have to amplify, like writing for a newspaper or having some expertise which people turn to for guidance.
If you want to be ‘famous’, (and, as Andy Warhol predicted, this is the age when everyone gets to be famous for fifteen minutes), you’ve only got to do something that can be fed into the gullet of the media machine. It can be done overnight. All you have to do is trash a studio or a hotel, like the Sex Pistols did, and next day you get acres of coverage. IMO, it’s all worthless garbage.
If you want to be valuable to yourself and others, do something that’s worthwhile, like find out who you really are, e.g. in that link above, sort of like the Native American vision quest
"Late that afternoon, I was sitting up against a wall in an L-shaped room. Some people were around the corner talking. I was just sitting there feeling good, not doing anything, not contemplating in particular, and I had an enlightenment experience of the nature of my being. It was a major breakthrough, the nature of which was completely outside of my previous experience. It was somehow not of the domain of "experience" and, at the same time, absolutely transformed my experience. It was profoundly and perfectly the case. It changed my whole life and the structure in which I held reality. It was fabulous!
Suddenly, I was aware that I was Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I directly experienced my true nature, not as thingness in any way, shape or form. The possibility that I wasn’t any thing had not existed for me. Through the whole Intensive I had been every thing, every conceptualization, every movement, every sense, every effort. It had never occurred to me that I wasn’t anything. In the enlightenment, I was just … no thing, no where, no substance whatsoever. No intellectual understanding of the matter can ever come close to a direct enlightenment. Although I had several others later, this first was probably the most significant enlightenment experience I ever had."
Personally, I never think about whether I’m irrelevant or not. I just do my daily life, eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired. But I’m an old man. I been doing it a long time, so it’s a doddle. I think the longest lived horse recorded in the UK was one that pulled a canal barge. Everyday she plodded along the tow path and back, hard, steady, regular work. That’s what my life is. I don’t want anything else, just my stretch of tow path. It’s got all that I require, and I enjoy and appreciate every step.
But it didn’t come easy. It took decades to sort myself out and
more decades to set everything up how I wanted it. But harking back to the martial arts master, above. If a person achieves a certain insight, some crazy magic happens and the whole Universe helps you to do whatever you want to do. That’s what he means by effortless power.
Right. Someone else’s turn to be entertaining…I’ve got me chores to do :-)
There is only one answer to this question: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JWVshkVF0SY
But actually, I think it’s an irrelevant question. Wolfbird’s right, it all depends on what angle you’re looking at it from. No one person can make a difference to the world, however powerful or visionary he or she may be, because it needs other people to see their vision or whatever. What is this "Big Scheme of Things", anyway? Is it relevant? Is relevance relevant??
I have a pin on the fabric of my fiddle case. It reads: "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."
If I was ‘relevant’ I wouldn’t be spending so much time playing traditional music. That is certainly not an activity many people think is relevant these days. So I will be content to be in tune, and leave relevance to others.
Sorry Wolfbird I am aware that irrelevant needs a qualifier (the "matter in hand") but if the matter in hand is, well, "everything"…
I am no expert on the English language, at all. So I’m sorry if the question doesn’t make sense. That brings us back around to the matter in hand, are you irrelevant in the scheme of things?
I am *definitely* irreverent. Oh, you said “irrelevant”. Well, that too.
Being personally relevant to so many energetically grasping people in so many varied and astonishing ways, I am reluctant to address a topic which is ergo irrelevant to me.
Still: Once, when lost in Beijing’s labyrinthine underground city, I glimpsed the receding figure of the Chinese woman I had witnessed the previous evening vomiting into the open head of a large ceramic panda. Instantly intuiting that I should not follow her, but instead walk John Cleese-style down a corridor that ran 90 degrees left of her path, I soon found myself in the out of doors, breathing at last the brownish air of whatever passes for freedom in that land of Godless commies. A victory? Perhaps. Ask Mister Capital G.
The question brings back vague memories of Sartre’s ‘La Nausee’ (‘Nausea’), where the narrator experiences the ‘irrelevance’ of his own existence, and knows he is ‘de trop’ in the overall scheme of things. Existentialism- but I’m not up to writing an essay on it now (I’ll resist using an emoticon given the subject).
Yes, P-K, I remember the piece where he describes the roots and bark of a tree and feels nauseous…I’m sure anybody who has experience of heavy duty psychedelics or intense meditation would recognize that kind of experience. Trouble with existentialism, it leaves you adrift in a meaningless Universe, life is just an absurd joke, without any ethical guidelines, and, as funny and admirable as Mont Python was, I don’t like existentialism myself. Taoism and zen buddhism covered the same territory hundreds and hundreds of years ago and came up with very much better answers, IMO
It seemed very attractive at the time- throwing everything into question- but ultimately didn’t satisfy me either, Wolfbird- too arid and cerebral, when there is so much beauty to celebrate in life, and so little time.
Y’all are some deep thinkers - now somebody order me a pint and kick off a set of tunes before we all collapse under the bloated weight of our own indulgent self-examinations.
Jusa- are you saying we’re putting Descartes before de horse?
Can I refer all youse guys to the discussion two further on, re performing whilst intoxicated ?
What are you all on ( and can I have some of it, please ? ).
Quite a good name for a tune that, P-K…
time for me to shut the stable door. See Y’all.
This may have been said before (I am largely ignorant of the body of literature that is this post), but the problem with this question is the phrase "the scheme of things". What does it mean? I assume Mehitable, who asks the question, subscribes to some religion or other belief system that regards the universe as following some predestined course, or that some great being has "a scheme" for us. Well, I’m not so sure…
Have no fear, if this is all too weighty for you I just posted the "Boobigan’s" thread here:
Sailing to Byzantium
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
….my country is Kiltartan Cross……
…I fell in love with an alien being,
Her skin was jelly and her teeth were green,
Big bug-eyes and a death-ray glare,
Feet like water-wings, purple hair,
I was over the moon, I took her back to my place
And I married the monster from outer space…
Just sitting here regarding my own navel, if I can just bend down that far. Hmm, something in there. Lint? No. It’s, it’s, it’s an O’Boobigan, by gor!
Good poem, that one, gw.
But I think there’s more to it than just getting your own life all sorted out and happy, important though that is. Being aware of the plight of those worse of than yourself and doing something about it not only makes you feel less irrelevant but makes you less irrelevant, and helps the other person(s) - the desperate plight of people in Burma right now or for example - less well publicised - how would you like to be gay and living in Jamaica? Even the police will beat you up or kill you. And you’d be irrelevant.
Very good point, KML, which I didn’t mention because I already had the impression (from the anarchist musician thread ?) that mehitabel is strong on the ‘social conscience’ stuff.
Thing is, that to help others, you need to be in a position to do so.
But I do very much agree. There’s nothing wrong with being happy, especially if it goes deep, not just superficial. But so often, what people think of as ‘happiness’ is a sort of hedonistic pursuit of things to distract themselves from their unhappiness.
They think, if only they had…., or if only they could…., then they’d be happy. And that time never arrives, because there’s always another ‘if only’.
‘Distracting oneself from unhappiness’- some people may even use music to this end, but in my book, that’s OK- any positive activity which keeps a person afloat and away from despair and does no harm.
That’s the ‘hanging on in there’, and possibly selfish, end of the spectrum, but you can build out piece by piece from there towards changing things within the global village. One small thing done for someone less fortunate could be a first step out of ‘irrelevance’- though some cynics would maintain that even charitable actions are driven ultimately by the need to bolster self-esteem or by the pleasure principle- to which the common sense answer must be- ‘so what?’
(P.S. Don’t you guys discuss this kind of thing every week in between tunes?)
Good works driven ultimately by the need to bolster self esteem? I would consider this cynicism over psychological egoism. I am certain that many of the most wonderful people I have met in my life act out of true altruism and compassion for others. It concerns me, people only doing good works to feel better about themselves. This is not the way it is supposed to work, I am sure.
Well, I suppose if you’re laying in a ditch with a broken leg, and someone helps you, you’re not going to be that bothered about their motivation, and any sort of help would be better than none. But that’s fairly obvious.
What’s maybe more interesting is mehitabel’s phrase ‘the way it’s supposed to work’. That’s a big big problem. There’s no agreement about how it’s ‘supposed’ to be. That’s what much of the fighting is about.
Who are the goodies and who are the baddies ? What are the root causes of so much of the suffering ? Before you can act effectively, even if motivated by pure compassion, you need some wisdom and insight into what the problem is, or you might just make things even worse.
There’s nothing easy and straightforward about fixing the world’s problems. We’re told that democracy is the best political system, because it gives everyone a voice, and if you don’t like the leadership, you can vote them out.
Maybe democracy is preferable to straightforward brutal tyranny, but majority rule means that you get the tyranny of the majority, 51 percent happy, 49 percent unhappy. If the 51 percent are idiots who vote for idiots, then you get idiotic policies.
I despair about fixing anything politically when the the only choice is between one bunch of idiots and another bunch of idiots, and whoever wins will break all their promises as soon as they are securely in power.
The other aspect of soceity that could be changed is the culture. It’s always changing, so maybe it could be changed for the better, but I don’t see much sign. The culture we have now is the result of many decades of propaganda and indoctrination.
What this guy is saying is relevant to everyone, particularly if they have children
"Good poem, that one, gw.
But I think there’s more to it than just getting your own life all sorted out and happy…"
I posted the Yeats poem to allude to existential rather than social relevance. Approaching my mid-50s, I have a completely different view of personal "relevance" than I did when I was in my 20s. So did Yeats (I think), and he put it so nicely. Altruism is an altogether different subject. Earlier in my life, having been a social activist for many years, I met many people who were very "relevant" on a social level but nonetheless felt irrelevant on a personal level. I think because "saving the world" is so overwhelming. At my ripe old age I’ve learned to be content doing what I can to save the world, but I still wrestle with my existential relevance. Ah life! Ain’t it grand!
gw - with that sentence I was actually making a provocation at wolfbird, which he answered admirably :-)
"charitable actions are driven ultimately by the need to bolster self-esteem"
I am reminded of a Spanish proverb someone once told me that I think is appropriate (but my rendition probably grammatically incorrect):
Solo el ladron crea que todo el mundo son ladrones.
Only the thief thinks everyone else is a thief.