AKS DIARIES- Excerpts and Fragments

This Page Started on 5th October 2013

AKS was not a diary writer in the sense of the word. Rarely did he write personal entries in his diaries. However, in his diaries, many of which do not survive, one can read notes, quotations, excerpts and fragments from various literary texts, books, including the most revolutionary ones, and the most religious ones, science, medicine, various other knowledge systems, –including words and their meanings taken from various dictionaries like a student–which are not only a source of information and knowledge for any reader but throw interesting insight into his varied interests and his insatiable urge for knowledge and continuous endeavour for self-learning. Hence on this page, we will reproduce somewhat longer excerpts and passages recorded in his diaries, while the briefer quotes and notes will be reproduced on a separate page AKS DIARIES-Quotes, Notes.  Since the diary entries will be uploaded as and when they are discovered and seem relevant for the readers here, hence they can not be presented in a chronological manner; however, on this page the chronology of uploading of the entries will be indicated. A few relevant images, not part of the diaries, have been added to make this reader-friendly. Similarly, each new excerpt or fragment has been headlined with relevant words from the passages that follow to sort of engage the reader. Kindly note that all AKS diary entries have been reproduced as they are and appear here in ‘italics normal’ font style to distinguish them from other accompanying references and notes. The notings of this MODERATOR appear in ‘bold italics’–in the style these words which you are reading appear.

The following excerpts uploaded on 5th October 2013.

Conflict is an inescapable social fact.

Alvin Tofler

Alvin Toffler

Here are reproduced the passages from Alvin Toffler, (b. 1928) an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communication revolution and technological singularity, especially his seminal book  PowerShift – Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century (1991). Unfortunately, AKS has not recorded the source of these excerpts. Further we find that there are actually, 25 assumptions, though AKS has ended with the 15th one. Just for the sake of curiosity, the rest 10 have also been reproduced here courtesy http://wirearchy.com/2009/04/01/alvin-tofflers-powershift-25-core-assumptions/ In fact, the point 16 noted in the diary is paraphrasing by AKS of the last three assumptions. These excerpts have been noted down in the diaries on two dates, Assumptions 1-8 on 18 July 2005, and Assumptions 9-15 on 11/8/05. Scanned pages from the diary can also be seen. —AKSCENTRE 

diary-1

28 July 05

Assumptions

(on which Alwin Toffler’s ‘Power Shifts’ is based, in his own words)


1. Power is inherent in all social systems and in all human relationships.  It is not a thing but an aspect of any and all relationships among people. Hence it is inescapable and neutral, intrinsically neither good nor bad.

2. The ‘power system’ includes everyone – no one is free of it.  But one person’s power loss is not always another’s gain.

3. The power system in any society is subdivided into smaller and smaller power subsystems nested within one another.  Feedback links these subsystems to one another, and to the larger systems of which they are part.  Individuals are embedded in many different, though related, power subsystems.

4. The same person may be power-rich at home and power-poor at work, and so forth.

5. Because human relationships are constantly changing, power relationships are also in constant process.

6. Because people have needs and desires, those who can fulfill them hold potential power.  Social power is exercised by supplying or withholding the desired or needed items and experiences.

7. Because needs and desires are highly varied, the ways of meeting or denying them are also extremely varied.  There are, therefore, many different ‘tools’ or ‘levers’ of power.  Among them, however, violence, wealth and knowledge are primary.  Most other power resources derive from these.

diary2

8. Violence, which is chiefly used to punish, is the least versatile source of power.  Wealth, which can be used to both reward and punish, and which can be converted into many other resources, is a far more flexible tool of power. Knowledge, however, is the most versatile and basic since it can help one avert challenges that might require the use of violence and wealth, and can often be used too persuade others to perform in desired ways out of perceived self-interest.  Knowledge yields the highest quality power.

11/8/05
9. The relationship of classes, races, genders, professions, nations, and other social groupings are incessantly altered by shifts in population, ecology, technology, culture, and other factors.  These changes lead to conflict and translate into redistribution of power resources.

10. Conflict is an inescapable social fact.

11. Power struggles are not necessarily bad.

12. Fluctuations caused by simultaneous shifts of power in different subsystems may converge to produce radical shifts of power at the level of the larger system of which they are a part.  This principle operates at all levels,. Intra-psychic conflict within an individual  can tear a whole family apart, power conflict among departments can tear a company apart, power struggles among regions can tear a nation apart.

13. At any given moment some of the many power subsystems that comprise the larger system are in relative equilibrium whilke others are in a far-from equilibrial condition.  Equilibrium is not necessarily a virtue.

14. When power systems are far-from-equilibrial, sudden, seemingly bizarre shifts may occur.  This is because when a system or subsystem is highly unstable, nonlinear effects multiply.  Big power inputs may yield small results.  Small events can trigger the downfall of a regime.  A slice of burnt toast can lead to a divorce.

diary3

15. Chance matters.  The more unstable the system, the more chance matters.

16. Both overconcentration and underconcentration of power result in social horror.

—-

The Other Assumptions taken from the website referred to above:

16. Equality of power is an improbably condition.  even if it is achieved, chance will immediately produce new inequalities.  So will attempts to rectify old inequalities.

17. Inequalities at one level can be balanced out at another level.  for this reason, it is possible for a power balance to exist between two or more entities, even when inequalities exist among their various subsystems.

18. It is virtually impossible for all social systems and subsystems to be simultaneously in perfect balance and for power to be share equally among all groups.  Radical action may be needed to overthrow an oppressive regime, but some degree of inequality is a function of change itself.

19. Perfect equality implies changelessness, and is not only impossible but undesirable.  In a world in which millions starve, the idea of stopping change is not only futile but immoral.  The existence of some degree of inequality is not, therefore, inherently immoral; what isimmoral is a system that freezes the maldistribution of those resources that give power.  It is doubly immoral when that maldistribution is based on race, gender or other inborn traits.

diary4

20.  Knowledge is even more maldistributed than arms and wealth.  Hence a redistribution of knowledge (and especially knowledge about knowledge) is even more important than, and can lead to, a redistribution of the other main power resources.

21. Overconcentration of power resources is dangerous.  (examples: Stalin, Hitler, and so on.  Other examples too numerous to itemize).

22. Underconcentration of power resources is equally dangerous. The absence of strong governments in Lebanon has turned that poor nation into a synonym for anarchic violence.  scores of groups vie for power without reference to any agreed conception of law or justice or any enforceable constitutional or other restrictions.

23. If both overconcentration and underconcentration of power result in social horror, how much concentrated power is too much ?  Is there a moral basis for judging ?  The moral basis for judging whether power is over – or under-concentrated is directly related to the difference between ‘socially necessary order’ and ‘surplus order’.

24. Power granted to a regime should be just sufficient to provide a degree of safety from real (not imagined) external threat., plus a modicum of internal order and civility.  This degree of order is socially necessary, and hence morally justifiable.

25. There is a moral basis for opposing or even overthrowing the state that imposes ‘surplus order’.

The following excerpts uploaded on 7th October 2013

Some more excerpts from Alvin Toffler have been found from AKS Diaries. These date back to 9.7.2005, that is a few weeks before the excerpts related to ‘Assumptions’ as recorded above. This is as follows, and the excerpts have been credited to Toffler’s book ‘Power Shifts’ with page nos. mentioned in brackets by AKS.–AKSCENTRE

9.7.2005

Power has shifted away from the old hierarchies, creating a far more fluid, confusing Power shiftsystem, with continually shifting centres of power.  (p. 261)

New communications technologies also undermine hierarchies in govt. by making it possible to bypass them entirely. The U.S. President is instantly apprised with a crisis anywhere in the world, and the traditional channels of information and the chain of command are either disrupted or bypassed.

——

Often the political leader has to steer clear of the advice of his bureaucrats. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl simply ignored his foreign ministry when he first outlined his list of ten conditions for uniting the two Germanys.

Whenever a leader end-runs the bureaucracy in this way, dire warnings that disaster looms rise from its ranks. This is often followed by leaks to the press designed to undermine the new policy.

Nevertheless, in times of rapid change, require instant or imaginative response, cutting ministries or departments out of the loop comes to be seen as the only way to get anything done, which accounts for the proliferation of ad hoc and informal units that increasingly honeycomb governments, competing with and sapping the formal bureaucracy. (263-264)

——

Contd:

All this, when combined with privatization and the looming redistribution of power to local, regional, and supra-national levels, points to basic changes in the size and shape of government tomorrow. It suggests that as we move deeper into the super-symbolic economy, mounting pressures will force governments, like corporations into them, into a process of painful restructure. 

This organisation agony will come even as politicians attempt to cope with a wildly unstable world system, plus all the dangers outlined in from unprecedented environmental crises to explosive ethnic hatreds and multiplying fanaticisms.

What we can expect to see, therefore, is sharpened struggle between politicians and bureaucrats for control of the system as we make the perilous passage from a mass to a mosaic democracy. (p. 264)

(From ‘Power Shift’ by Alvin Toffler; Bantam Violen Books; it is, in Toffler’s words, “the third and final volume of a trilogy that opened with ‘Future Shock’, continued with ‘The Third Wave’, and is now complete.”

Another entry related to Toffler, though a brief one, is found which is undated and recorded on the page of 19th February 2005 of this particular diary, though that cannot be taken as the date of this entry, which records a brief criticism of Toffler’s idea of ‘future shock’ (first published in 1970).-AKSCENTRE

Alvin Toffler described ”future shock” as the condition of distress and disorientation brought on by our inability to cope with surprisingly rapid societal, technological and environmental changes.

However, according to Max H. Bazerman and Michael D. Watkins, authors of “Predictable Surprises: The Disasters you should have seen coming and How to prevent them”, future shocks can certainly be avoided if we can simply find and use the proper diagnostics and tools.

The following excerpts uploaded on 10th October 2013.

“…every blessing ignored becomes a curse”

Today, we reproduce a passage–an interesting conversation indeed– recorded by AKS from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. The page nos. have not been mentioned. If the act of noting down a passage from anywhere is any indication of a person’s likes or dislikes, then this brief diary entry does hold a mirror to the truths and realities of life as might have been perceived by AKS. Actually, this book ‘accidentally’ came to his hands and he was pleasantly surprised to discover this author. Somehow, the entry ends upruptly in the diary–AKSCENTRE  

 23/07/2008

From Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’

 [1] ” I’ve had this shop for thirty years. I know good crystal from bad, and everything else there is to know about crystal. I know its dimensions and how it behaves. It we serve tea in crystal, the shop is going to expand. And then I’ll have to change my way of life.”

            “Well is n’t that good?”

alchemist            “I’m already used to the way things are. Before you came, I was thinking about how much time I had wasted in the same place, while my friends had moved on, and either went bankrupt or did better than they had before. It made me very depressed. Now, I can see that it had n’t been too bad. The shop is exactly the size I always wanted it to be. I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.”

             The boy did n’t know what to say. The old man continued. “You have been a real blessing to me. Today, I understand something I did n’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don’t want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I’m going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things you should be able to accomplish, and I don’t want to do so.”

             …And as he smothered the coals in the hookah, he told the boy that he could begin to sell tea in the crystal glasses. Sometime, there’s just no way to hold back the river.

 X X X

             The Englishman was fascinated with the part about the progress achieved at the crystal shop after the boy began working there.

“That’s the principle that governs all things”, he said. “In alchemy, it’s called the soul of the world. When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the world. It’s always a positive force.

            He also said that this was not just a human gift, that everything on the face of the earth had a soul, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal – or even just a simple thought.

            “Everything on earth is being continuously transformed, because the earth is alive … and it has a soul. We are part of that soul so we rarely recognize that it is working for us. But in the crystal shop you probably realized that even the glasses were collaborating in your success.”

Paulo-Coelho-003

Paulo Coelho

X X

“Should I understand the Emerald Tablet?” the boy asked.

            “Perhaps, if you were in a laboratory of alchemy, this would be the right time to study the best way to understand the Emerald Tablet. But you are in the desert. So immerse yourself in it. The desert will give you an understanding of the world; in fact, anything on the face of the earth will do that. You don’t even have to understand the desert all you have to do is contemplate a simple grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation.”

            “How do I immerse myself in the desert?”

            “Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the soul of the world, and it will one day return there.”

——-

The following excerpts uploaded on 12th October 2013.

“The ‘I am Ready for Anything’ Look of D H Lawrence”

Today, we reproduce the passages from Catherine Carswell’s biography of D H Lawrence, The Savage Pilgrimage, which was first published in 1932. Catherine Carswell (1879-1946), a Scottish author, biographer and journalist, is more famously known for her not-so-flattering and controversial biography of the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns. However, the passages from this biography as recorded by AKS in his diary, have not been taken in continuity. Lawrence’s views on marriage, his lesser known play ‘Touch and Go’, his impressions of foreign lands such as Italy, Ceylone, Australia, Taos and finally his comparsion of America with Europe have been put together by AKS– making transitions through one line comments or simply through signs like XX; the page nos. have not been mentioned. This needs to be mentioned that for AKS, D H Lawrence, with all his imperfections, was in a sense epitome of a perfect artist. Thus, interestingly, amidst these discussions, one finds that a small passage about the ‘fiercely or sufferingly thoughtful’ photographs or portraits of Lawrence as opposed to his ‘usual sparkling awareness’, as observed by Carswell, recorded in the diary. AKSCENTRE

08.07.2008

Dwarka

 If there was one institution which D.H. Lawrence endorsed, it was that of marriage:

 “It is those who are married who should live the life of contemplation together. In the world there is the long day of destruction to go by. But let these who single, man torn from woman, woman from man, men all together, women all together, separate violent and deathly fragments, each returning and adhering to its own kind, the body of life torn in two, let these finish the day of destruction, and those who have united go into the wilderness to know a new heaven and a new earth.”   

But Lawrence also knew the value of being ‘single’, but ‘single’ in his sense of the word. While the war was raging, in April 1918, Lawrence, on his return from a visit to the Midlands, was seized with illness while in London. He wrote to Catherine Carswell  (the author of a biography of his called “The Savage Pilgrimage”).

savage

 “You were very sad when I saw you: and there seemed nothing that could be said. Things most work themselves out. It is a great weariness. I felt, that as far as peace work, or any work for betterment goes, it is useless. One can only gather the single flower of one’s intrinsic happiness, apart and separate. It is the only faithful fulfilment. I feel that people choose the war, somehow, even those who hate it, choose it, choose the state of war and in their souls provoke more war, even in hating war. So the only thing that can be done is to leave them to it, and to bring forth the flower of one’s own happiness, single and apart.

 “It is so lovely here, now, my seeds have come up, there is a strange joyfulness in the air. For these of us who can become single and alone, all will become perfectly right.”

 XX A play of Lawrence called “Touch and Go” has gone completely unnoticed. It is of use to readers of Lawrence in the elucidation of both “Women in Love” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” In the character of Gerald, which is common to the first named novel and the play, Lawrence records his sympathy with the gifted employer – the powerful and proud young man of aristocratic temper and keen intelligence, who has given of his disinterested best to an industry, and refuses to be bullied by hands who are no more than show of numbers. Gerald is essentially the man of organized achievement, to whom, as such, Lawrence pays hearty tribute.

We get, too in the play, the scales held evenly between the genuine Christian sweetness (so unavailing) of Gerald’s father, and the honesty and pride (made crazy and of no avail by our modern life) of Gerald’s mother. These two horribly cancel each other out. And we get the voice of a miner who is a genuine man as well as the voices of miners who beat an untimely retreat behind the fiction of a merely economic struggle.

XX In 1921 Lawrence was in Italy. Lawrence had loved Italy as much as any English poet ever did and he got from it more than must. He was grateful till the end of his life for that carelessness of the South which dispelled like an unconscious benison the harsh and petty carefulness of his Northern upbringing. Travelling north would always make him feel ill and resentful. Turning South world always offer ease and healing. But bask as he might now for a time in the essential tolerance of southern Italy, with its classical mentality and its good humoured physicalness, it could not assuage for ever his northern thirst for ‘something beyond’. He must seek further for that other world that is within and behind the real world. The easy and eminently workable Latin compromise with life had gone a little stale, a little rancid in his mouth.   

XX It is, I think, a misfortune that by bar the most of the photographs and portraits of Lawrence show him as thoughtful – either fiercely or sufferingly so. His usual expression was a kind of sparkling awareness, almost as “I am ready for anything” look which was invigorating to behold.

D-H-Lawrence-banner

D H Lawrence
Photo Courtesy: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/

 X Early 1922, while on way to Ceylon: “I think one must for the moment withdraw from the world away towards the inner realities that are real: and return, may be, to the world later, when one is quiet and sure. I am tired of the world, and want the peace like a river: not this whisky and soda, bad whisky too, of life so-called. I don’t believe in Buddhistic inaction and meditation. But I believe the Buddhistic peace is the point to start from – not our strident fretting and squabbling.”

 XX In April, the Lawrences sailed for Australia– to be exact, at Thirroul, South Coast, New South Wales – Lawrence found a different kind of indifference from any thing he had met with before. It was neither Oriental nor Mediterranean but of the whitest kind, all English in its origins. This fascinated, even while it repelled him. ‘A raw hole’, but wonderful for its freshness, its rough carelessness and its unfamiliar skies. It held him for three months, fruitful months too, that saw the inception and the writing of Kangaroo.

“If you want to know what it is to feel the ‘correct’ social world fizzle to nothing, you should go to Australia… In the established sense it is socially nil. Happy – go – lucky, don’t – you – father we’re – in – Austraylia. But also there seems to be no inside life of any sort: Just a long lapse and drift … It’s really a weird show. The country has an extraordinary, hoary attraction. As you get used to it, it seems so old, as it had missed all this Semite – Egyptian – Indo-European vast era of history, and was coal age, the age of great ferns and mosses… A strange effect it has on one… I can’t quite explain it; as if one resolved back almost to the plant Kingdom,”

They were very happy, Frieda especially so, in the “awfully nice” bungalow, forty miles south of Sydney…. It was the Pacific that Lawrence found lovely end stimulating-

Lawrence was already planning to sail to San Francisco, via Wellington and Tahiti, enroute for Taos. But he’d be looking back at Australia, “Australia would be a lovely country to lose the world in altogether. I’ll go round it once more– the world – and if ever I get back here I will stay.”

That summer of 1922, Carswell received a letter from Lawrence from Taos:

 “Well, I am afraid it will all sound very fascinating if you are feeling cooped up in London. I don’t want you to feel envious. Perhaps it is necessary for me to try these places, perhaps it is my destiny to know the world. It only excites the outside of me. The inside it leaves more isolated and stoic than ever. That’s how it is. It is all a form of running away from oneself and the great problems: all this wild west and the strange Australia. But I try to keep quite clear. One forms not the faintest inward attachment, especially here in America. America lives by a sort of egoistic will, shove and be shoved. No illusion. I will not shove and I will not be shoved.”

Catherine Carswell

Lawrence wrote in an article for America called “Europe Versus America”, in April 1926 (in the Lawrence number of “The Laughing Horse”):

“Now, back in Europe, I feel a real relief. The past is too big, and too intimate, for one generation to get a stranglehold on it. Europe is squeezing the life out of herself, with her mental education and her fixed ideas. But she has n’t got her hands round her own throat, not half so far as America has hers; here the grip is already falling slack, and if the system collapses, it’ll only be another system collapsed, of which there have been plenty. But in America, where men grip themselves so much more intensely and suicidally– the women worse – the system has its hold on the very sources of consciousness, so god knows what would happen if the system broke.”

This is confession, but it is also discovery, and it is the kind of discovery that comes only by pilgrimage, and by pilgrimage of me sausage kind.

         From Catherine Carswell’s biography of Lawrence

(Wordsworth Classics)

The following excerpts uploaded on 15th October 2013

Ask Someone Where We Are

Today, we reproduce these opening lines of the Sophocles’ play Oedipus at Colonus as recorded by AKS.  This is of the three Theban plays or trilogy of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles (c. 497/6 BC- c. 406/5 BC), with the other two being Oedipus the Rex and Antigone. For the uninitiated, the explanatory lines taken from http://www.litcharts.com/lit/oedipus-at-colonus/themes are also being brought here for a better understanding of the context of these opening lines: ‘Long before the beginning of Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus has fulfilled one of the most famous prophecies in world literature—that he would kill his father and marry his mother (these events are covered in detail in Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex). Despite his efforts to avoid this terrible fate, it came to pass. When Oedipus learned what he had inadvertently done, he gouged out his own eyes, and was banished from Thebes. As Oedipus at Colonus begins, Oedipus is nearing the end of his life.’ AKSCENTRE

12.03.2005

Opening lines of Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus”, Tr. by E.F. Watling (Penguin Classics)

 

Enter from the country Oedipus, white -haired, blind, and in squalid garments, guided by his daughter, Antigone.

Sophocles

Oedipus: Tell me, Antigone – where have you come to now

With your blind old father?

What is this place, my child?

Country, or town? Whose turn is it to-day

to offer a little hospitality to the wandering Oedipus?

It’s little I ask, and am well content with less.

Three masters – pain, time, and the royalty in the blood –

Have taught me patience. Is there a resting place,

My child, where I could sit, on common ground

Or in same sacred close? And while I rest,

Ask someone where we are.

Oedipus

‘Oedipus at Colonus’ by Fulchran-Jean Harriet, 1798, Cleveland Museum of Art
Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_at_Colonus

The following excerpts uploaded on 15th October 2013

“He is Great Who Can Alter My State of Mind”

Today, we bring a brief excerpt recorded by AKS from ‘The American Scholar’ of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 –1882)), the legendary American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, and is viewed as a champion of individualism. The introductory lines of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Scholar state: ‘The American Scholar was a speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson on August 31, 1837, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was invited to speak in recognition of his groundbreaking work Nature, published a year earlier, in which he established a new way for America’s fledgling society to regard the world. Sixty years after declaring independence, American culture was still heavily influenced by Europe, and Emerson, for possibly the first time in the country’s history, provided a visionary philosophical framework for escaping “from under its iron lids” and building a new, distinctly American cultural identity.’–AKSCENTRE

24.10.2007

From “The American Scholar” by R.W. Emerson:

The world is his who can see through its pretension. What deafness, what stone-blind custom, what overgrown error you behold is there only by sufferance–by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.

Nor he is great who can alter matter, but who can alter my state of mind.

I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give one insight into to-day, and you may have the antique and future worlds.

Emerson

R W Emerson

To read the full essay, ‘The American Scholar’, you can visit this website:

www.emersoncentral.com/amscholar.htm

 

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