books : cold : gym : temperature and morality

Up at 11 am and I lit some incense (Pine) before my sitting Buddha, opened the windows, and gazed out into the blue sky. My altar, if that is what you can call it, is nothing fancy at all, only a sitting Buddha, two incense holders, and two candle holders, one with the Sun and the other with the Moon. My back resting against my bed, I could hear the sound of purring behind me. It was Pandora, sitting comfortable on the edge of the bed. Cats are enlightened. Back to my altar, a few items sitting atop my bookshelf. But my bookshelf isn’t really a bookshelf either. It is three pieces of 6′ x 1′ boards atop cinder blocks. It fits perfectly into the wide double glass window alcove on my eastern bedroom wall. I try to remember about East, the dogma concerning it, from my past magickal readings. Isn’t Aquarius and intelligence the direction of the East? I don’t know… don’t really care. My eyes move over the spines of my books, these monuments to my mind, these gems of my heart. Poetry by Linda Hogan, a collection of Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm, Hawking’s Brief Introduction to the History of Time, texts from Ovid, Homer, Aristophanes, and Aurellius and Cicero. Various volumes from Jung’s Collected Works, histories of the United States, Europe, the Civil War and memoirs from soldiers during WW1, WW2, and a history of blacks in service in the Civil War. Environmental ethics, deep ecology, the history of the old growth forest debate in the Pacific Northwest, Thoreau, Emerson, and of course Abbey. Some books by tibetan monks, another by Lama Surya Das, others by others. Field guides on plant identification and bird behavior, stories of fantasy and science fiction. Books on personality and psychology, sociology and politics and still more. My apartment is nothing if not a storage place of books, and books are nothing if not an avenue of experience for me, therefore I love and crave books. Indeed, when all else is spent, when my money is run out, I shall always find some means to acquire a book or two, no matter how dire the straits are.

Out the door a few minutes later and to the gym. The sky is clear of all clouds, a light blue, very airy and “high” feeling, as though the ceiling were miles over our head. Not like some blue skies when it feels that your hair should turn blue from brushing the sky. Nor like last night’s sky when I felt that I could almost pick a star out of the heavens and place it in my bag. I like the pliedes (spelling) the best… and though they are faint, they are my favorites. It was very cold this morning and even though I had on a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and my jacket, I still had the shivers. My legs, only in shorts, weren’t bothered much at all. Perhaps it is the faintest of traces of Scottish blood, though I doubt it, my ancestors came over in many generations ago in the 1700’s. That is two-hundred years of American soil… so all intents and purposes my family is American (and any romantic notion of claiming Scottish characteristics is ridiculous). Instead I gather that the hair on my legs is a better insulator than one might readily guess. Also, the legs do not have the cavities to warm that the upper body does, being compromised mainly of muscle, which are constantly moving and expending energy in my walking (energy that warms). Whereas my arms are not doing so, and my torso has nothing like this to generate heat other than shivering. Still, my upper body shivers wth the cold.

The gym… a good aerobics workout. I notice that as usual half of the t.v.s are on Pat Roberts. Every day it is Pat Roberts. One is on a sitcom that we can’t make out, another is on ESPN, and another is on the news. I don’t mind Pat Roberts being on the t.v., I’ve seen a lady watch him intently while doing her cycling. That’s fine, but half of the t.v.s, when nobody else is around? Noticing my annoyance at this I tell myself that I am exhibiting bias, and that I shouldn’t really care because I came here to workout, not watch t.v.. And so I focus on the empty space before me and quicken my tempo on the elliptial machine.

After the workout the walk home was wonderful. But I was filled with heat and the clothes became too much for me and I had to take off my sweatshirt, walking home in only a black t-shirt and black shorts. The sun, low in the southern sky (as it is this time of year, the arc moving ever so much higher every day, bringing with it the coming Spring and Summer) gave me the full effect of his rays onto my chest as I walked south toward home. To the west I could see the outlines of the Coastal Range, to the east I could make out the tops of the Cascade Mountains, behind me was the Skinner’s Butte, south of me dominating the southern horizon was Spencer’s Butte. Walking, dressed as I was, I got some looks from people driving cars, as though they were saying “isn’t he cold?”. All the while I asked myself “aren’t they hot?”.

This began my mind on a series of thoughts, on life and hardship, on what was thought to be difficult. What comes then is an analogy for relativism. Arguments against relativism deny that such exist, whereas relativists deny that any moral reality exists in and of itself. So what would the moralist use as symbolic of morals in this story? I do not know, but I would guess that temperature would be the morale universe, as the temperature is a very real thing outside of the person’s thinking. The temperature does not need the attitudes of a person to deem itself hot or cold but it simply is a certain temperature. Yet I can see that already I do a poor job of using this analogy because I am moving into the relativist stance and not the moralist stance. The temperature is a temperature, though what that temperature is it does not know nor care. It might be Kelvin, Celcius, or Farenheit, or some other unit of measurement, but it is only a unit of measurement… only a temperature through the awareness of man, that is, when man has labelled it thusly. And it certainly cannot go by anything such as hot or cold save only through the relationship of experience with man. The labeling of temperature might be like the use of reason or philosophy to point to a truth about the ways things are, whereas the labeling of something as hot or cold might be to give is a moral dimension. But does temperature exists? A laughable question… surely. Right? But is there a reality of temperature of its own existence? Or does it exists as an expression of something else, a secondary state.

tem·per·a·ture [ témpr chr, témprchr, témpr chr ] (plural tem·per·a·tures)
noun
1. degree of heat: the degree of heat as an inherent quality of objects expressed as hotness or coldness relative to something else
2. relative degree of heat: the heat of something measured on a particular scale such as the Fahrenheit or Celsius scale. Symbol T Symbol t

But when we rid ourselves of the hot/cold aspect of temperature and only onto the labeling of such, and when we can get past the human element of labeling temperature, suppose an iceberg in the artic, floating in the ocean. Does it not have a temperature? We can measure it, quanitfy it, record it in a table, so it exists. But what are we measuring?

Temperature, in physics, property of systems that determines whether they are in thermal equilibrium (see Thermodynamics). The concept of temperature stems from the idea of measuring relative hotness and coldness and from the observation that the addition of heat to a body leads to an increase in temperature as long as no melting or boiling occurs. In the case of two bodies at different temperatures, heat will flow from the hotter to the colder until their temperatures are identical and thermal equilibrium is reached (see Heat Transfer). Thus, temperatures and heat, although interrelated, refer to different concepts, temperature being a property of a body and heat being an energy flow to or from a body by virtue of a temperature difference. See Energy.


An effect of affect… hmmm. This is an important distinction, for when we measure temperature we measure not an affect, but an effect (not to say that an effect cannot in turn affect). Morality is said by some to be an affect, but I warrant that it is no such thing, that it is entirely a state depending upon the agents acting upon it.

I’ve tarried too long, my coffee needs to be made, my laundry to be done, and my grocery shopping completed. But as I leave toward my day with the thoughts of relativism in mind, I ask myself in a quixotic voice… what of love?

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