The Art of Pacifism

Pacifism surely is an art. Life and the universe are filled with conflict and contradiction. If we do not embrace conflict, we will never grow as people or know life as it really is.

A pacifist’s attitude cannot be one of passivity or quietism; “Turn the other cheek” is an excuse to accept mistreatment and does nothing to create peace in the world; it just maintains a tolerance of violence. Pacifism cannot ignore or deny violence. Nor can it merely tolerate violence. It must oppose violence without reverting to aggressive means. It must propose peace as a creative and dynamic option, not as a passive default.

Pacifism requires a warrior’s attitude, standing upright and buoyant, but not rigid and not falling to external or internal violence. Like the martial art Aikido, pacifism doesn’t provoke conflict but actively meets and neutralises it. No provocation is needed, as conflict always exists in the world and in our lives.

Pacifism is about choice and picking your battles where possible. Our choice of relationships and professions are our battlefields, and if we don’t choose well, we will inevitably find ourselves constantly at war. A pacifist should know how to avoid war, or else be well prepared for it.

War happens when all options run out. It is an act of desperation, when we throw out our constructive principles because there is nothing else we can do or feel we can do. This is why we need imagination and creativity. We need to imagine multiple possibilities of peace and have the creativity to carry them out.

There is always a way of preventing conflict devolving into violence, of transforming aggression into creative energy. We won’t always succeed, but pacifism is a dynamic process, not a static dogma – it requires some honest self-reflection. As long as we are constantly expanding possibilities, we are constantly creating possibilities of peace.

Writing Style

At the moment I writing a short story about a Brinkleginks first encounter with humans. I started it in a serious-fantasy mode, and I could start it, carried on it for a few paragraphs, but then there comes a bit where there’s a “pause” in the actual story, where I don’t know how to transition from one phase to another. Well, I’ve just written the same story but in funny-fantasy mode and found it flows much better. I think that, for the moment, this is really “my style”, as I discovered with Jake Fish, St. John de Monmouth and a few other short stories. For the moment I think I’ll just write what flows, and what entertains me by whilst I’m writing.

The Role of Magick

Inspired by a recent forum discussion about the role of magic(k) in modern paganism:

My attitude to and belief in magic has changed. I got into Paganism via “nature worship”, that’s what really drew me in, and magic just happened to be a part of the whole Pagan thing (my first excursion into the subject was through Wicca). The magic side of things did interest me for a while, but I was more interested in its significance than its practice. My questions to myself “why do I need it? Do I actually need it?” I once read something that really changed my view of it, which was that I can make a spell but the result will not be the exact one I want; it will be an unconscious change of myself that influences how I act in my life. I can ask for love, wealth or health, but unconsciously I will be making changes to myself that will somehow draw these things into my life.

I think I was more for personal development, making changes within myself than making changes outside of me. And since I can make change within myself without magic, why bother? On the other hand Buddhism influenced my thinking: instead of changing things, maybe it is my perception of things that needs changing. So I left magic behind, though I still held symbolic actions important.

Nowadays I don’t believe that simply by ritualised intent I can make things change (except myself). I believe making symbols (artistically, ritualistically or otherwise) to symbolise my intentions or wishes is important, but these act more as a “mission statement” to myself, a plan or vision by which I can act… and then the changes occur.

For me “real magic” is art and creativity. It is the way we can apply our imagination and perception to transform the world. It the the transformation of inanimate elements into living beings, the transformation of reaction into reflection, the transformation of imagination into concrete reality. It’s an alchemy of the world and ourselves that involves our perception of it.

I may have let go of certain ideas about magic, but it’s become something else as my perception and understanding of it changed. Magic itself has undergone a transformation of alchemy.

“Best Possible So Far” and Other Provisional Explanations

I’m into a small series of scientific blogs…

Science and art have this in common: they both need an imagination to work. Without imagination science wouldn’t have any new hypotheses or theories to measure, so contrary to popular opinion scientists do have an imagination. Where the artists’ imagination embellishes and transforms reality the scientists’ imagination creates abstract models which they then measure against reality thus testing whether their ideas conform to reality. Next, someone else replicates their methods to double check whether the results are replicable or not. In a way scientists actually look to have their dreams dashed to the ground! They seem to enjoy it…

Now they call this “objective”, but all it does is measure up various people’s subjective imaginary theories to nature, making it an “intersubjective” reflection of objective reality. And it’s just a way to accurately describe and explain nature, not to tell us what is true or not. So also contrary to popular opinion, what science says isn’t true; it’s just the best explanation so far! It’s provisional and subject to change and refinement. It’s falsifiable (i.e. all scientific statements leave room to be disproven). All scientific theories carry the implicit warning: “This is the best way we’ve found of explaining reality until further notice.” That “until further notice” is very important.

Anyway, what that means is we’re under no obligation to take science seriously because it’s as subject to subjective fantasy as art or religions are (although a bit more rigorous in testing its ideas).