Friday, June 27, 2003

Thought for the day... on Abstraction

I love this stuff. I think this is why I love being a writer.

from "Object-Oriented Modeling and Design"
by Rumbaugh, Blaha, Premerlani, Eddy, and Lorensen

"Abstraction is the selective examination of certain aspects of a problem. The goal of abstraction is to isolated thos aspects that are important for some purpose and suppress those aspects that are unimportant. Abstraction must always be for some purpose, because the purpose determines what is and is not important. Many different abstractions of the same thing are possible, depending on the purpose for which tye are made.

"All abstractions are incomplete and inaccurate. Reality is a seamless web. Anything we say about it, any description of it, is an abridgement. All human words and language are abstractions -- incomplete descriptions of the real world. This does not destroy their usefulness. The purpose of an abstraction is to limit the universe so we can do things."


~ Basil

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Dostoyevsky, Humility, and about everyone being the same!

This post is based on my comments to James' blog "People are People" which you can read here

I was motived to stop and think based on James' blog and on some of the comments to it. (If you already read the comments you may have read most of this post.)

Fr. Seraphim says:
"there is a way in which lowering oneself can become almost a caricature of humility"


It is something that really annoys me.

In certain circles I see this caricature of humility exhalted and I just gag on it. For example, in my thinking, a humble person when they talk (or preach) about fasting, for example, talk or preach the way the saints do: "So, you don't want to eat food! You are no better off than the Devil himself who doesn't eat food." Those I come to respect for their humility are the ones that don't concentrate on the nitty-gritty details of fasting, for example, but on the broader issues: you fast so that you can give to the poor (the food that you aren't eating) {I paraphrase St. John Chrysostom here} - or, you fast so that you can learn humility... etc. Never mind telling me what not to eat.

Or, another way of putting it: it is the road to fasting (the reason why you are) that is more important than the fact that you are avoiding certain foods (but I'm an existentialist at heart, so it all logically follows.)

I use "talk of fasting" here as my example for humility. But try to abstract that: The humble person doesn't draw attention to their humility, because a truly humble person doesn't know they are humble. They inadvertently become humble by doing the right thing... thinking the right thing.

I disagree with the premise by James: "Everyone would like to believe that everyone else is really no different than himself or herself."
because I've always wanted to be unique.

I don't want to be like anybody else, and I can damn well assure you that nobody else can possibly be like me! (Well, there you see, I'm not humble at all, am I.)

On the other hand, I want to be "different" not "better." I really have no way of knowing if the path I've chosen in life is better than that of somebody else. I suppose "if it works" then it is superior to something that doesn't, right? So, in that case I know I'm not better, because much of what "I am" and "I do" isn't "working." When something does turn out to work, it seems to be pure luck. I thank God every day for how "fortunate" or "lucky" or "blessed" I have been. But that doesn't mean I don't also count my sorrows.

OTOH, I've always thought that the problem in this world was: NOT thinking you are like everyone else. The problem in this world is thinking that you are better than everyone else. That everyone else is scum. That everyone else is an annoying piece of shit that screws everything out there up. It is always somebody else that doesn't stop at red lights, or cuts you off in the traffice, or throws their trash out the window and litters up the whole world.

But the reality of the situation (and what I can learn from life) is that it is NOT always somebody else. It is people like me who think they are better than everyone who end up running red lights, or getting angry in traffic and cutting someone off, or inadvertently letting their trash blow out their windows of their car, because the windows are all down and it's too hot out there. The fact of the matter is that it is ME that I really hate so much. When I say I'd never have a friend like "THAT" I can probably find myself one of THOSE if I look hard enough.

This is where Orthodox Christianity shines the light of Christ in the world. And Dostoyevsky is one of its greatest beacons of that light. Dost pointed out to us that we are all fallen... that it could have been any one of us that slipped up and killed someone... that the sinner is within.