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Essays

In 2002/03 I wrote a book whose title became the name for my blog – Small Epiphanies. Arranged in three thematic sections, the essays can be downloaded here. 

(Chapter titles link to PDF files, so right-click to download the PDF if you can’t read it in your browser, or click here to download complete PDF of all essays in ‘Small Epiphanies’ )

Part 1: Profitable apostasy

From the moment we are born, our society and its institutions conspire to fit us to their plans, rather than create plans that fit our requirements. Essays in this section describe the forces that are ranged against the individual.

House of Mirrors
The profit motive is probably the most powerful force in the industrial world, and it’s a system of desires that most other people seem to be keen to acquire. It also corrupts everyone it touches, and this chapter examines how we are all affected by it.

The New Jesuits
Our dreams are not our own. Instead, reality is created for us on the fly by people who refuse to believe that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. If dissembling is the quickest route to success, as demonstrated by big business, governments and the media, what effect might the dire example they set have on the behaviour of the individual?

Triangulation of Gravity
Society is created through individuals creating organisations. They always seem to operate the same way, making some people more powerful than others, and few if any are free of corruption. Are there any alternatives?

Who’s making holes in the ark?
While we act as if nothing was our responsibility, neither can we be blamed for failure. Unfortunately, we have given away so much freedom in order to devolve ourselves from being responsible for it, we no longer feel we have much control over any aspects of our lives.

Adversarial Antics
Adversarial systems are as old as civilisation itself. That doesn’t stop them from being well past their sell-by date.

Consuming Culture
The real value of art is not aesthetic or financial; it is whether through the creative act the artist’s life was improved to some degree. And if so, we could all benefit by bringing a little creativity into our lives.

What do I know?
We have more access to raw information now than at any time in our history. It hasn’t necessarily made us better informed, however, and we need to work out the difference between information and fact.

 

Part 2: The Blind Watch-repairer

All societies have structures. When they have implicit flaws, our options are limited by what our institutions allow us to do and think.

Hard to Believe
All of us clearly need something to believe in – it’s an essential aspect of the human condition.The problem with organised religions is that its always someone else that does the organising. It may be time for individuals to start believing in themselves.

A Mysterious Reduction
The perpetual skirmishes between religion and science are truly part of a phoney war between two factions equally determined to tell us what we should believe – and believe exclusively. Both sides should have a little more respect for the public they seek to suborn.

The Other End of History – Part 1
Violence is a trademark of our species. Is it buried so deep in our DNA that we will never be free of it?

The Other End of History – Part 2
For many people the reach of science is getting very scary. Where once we were concerned with what air was made of, now we have the tools to re-model reality itself, and there may indeed be some very bad mistakes made if the cautionary principle isn’t followed.

Part 3: Small Epiphanies

Design your own utopia. This section contains some ideas about how we could change society for the better without parental supervision.

Small Epiphanies
Making a difference: an examination of the individual in tomorrow’s society.

The Next Generation
Education and what it could be used to achieve.

The Question I Dread
Some small steps towards a better world, and why we should take them alone.

No Cod Either
The industrial machine is running out of time. We are the beneficiaries of a unique 200-year boost to the progress of civilisation that is all but burnt out – fossil fuels, but what we’ve made of this advantage is unlikely to impress our descendants.

The Fractal Defence
Is Utopia a childish dream or the intuition of an architect? If we aim high, at least we can fail with a bit more dignity than we do now. But who would design it and how could they ever hope to get planning permission?

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