Wednesday, June 18, 2008


There are 16 quite different translations of a classic poem ("Deer Park") by Wang Wei, an 8th-century AD Chinese master poet.

Leaving aside the question of whether any of these capture the essence of the original, we are dramatically reminded of the pitfalls of putting faith into similarly impossibly rendered ancient scrolls that form the basis for a "Holy Bible" that many demand be taken literally.

What we mark less is what Korzybski's mnemonic device, the "structural differential" endeavors to demonstrate: even at the most fundamental level (the sensory abstractions from the event level), we must try to stay aware that translation involves consequent problems of omission and inevitable modification.

The observation is NOT the thing observed. "Whatever you say it is, it isn't"!

This fundamental disjoint 'twixt events/observations/maps/territories underlies a great deal of our seemingly endless contention, often leading to the rather vaguely understood "it's just a matter of semantics."

After much long thought about poverty it became obvious to Dr. King in his final book (1967) that there is a rather simple/direct path to ending poverty, thence starvation/disease/war: "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective - the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."

This has been obvious since at least Thomas Paine's last pamphlet, "Agrarian Justice" from 1796.

Even third-party candidates don't espouse a Basic Income Guarantee despite its obvious value for moving, as Bucky Fuller put it, from "weaponry to livingry."



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