Current Essays

Year-turning On:2009-01-02 08:28:11

'Tis now the very turning of the year when all things change and the world is renewed---though, though really, come to think of it, that's more of a spring-time thing than this bleak midwinter can support when in fact all we're going to get is more of the same only probably worse, but I suppose that we can say that at least within the current social reality it is the year-turning, the page-turning time.

Now I assume that you are all fully acquainted with what social reality is, and how it differs from, say, objective reality---always accepting (unlike those po' po-mo sods) that there is an objective reality for it to differ from, but let's avoid getting stuck in that philosophical prickly briar bush---objective reality being (with the po-ing and the mo-ing put aside) independent of human thoughts, feelings or beliefs or the like; and by that measure the path of the Earth through space ain't a punctuated cycle, it just goes on and on sæculosæculoruming away like mad, sometimes closer to the Sun sometimes farther from it, but indeed presumably never repeating itself as it spirals giddily, indescribably through space (though, of course, that all depends on the frame of reference , not that we'll grind that set of axes)---whereas social reality depends almost entirely on human thoughts, feelings and beliefs and the like (and often rather inhumane ones at that); and by that measure we did in fact just celebrated a new year and most of us under the age of 40 stayed up till midnight to observe (in I'm sure more-or-less wildly non-objective ways) its coming---those over 40, of course having already seen too many of the buggers probably didn't: I actually stayed up well past midnight, though I demonstrated my own social reality by it being midnight Greenwich Mean Time (which works out to be 6pm in local-social-reality Texas time): so not much of a wild brake form the continuum from me there.

Of course, back in the actual Greenwich-Mean-Time zone they (especially my Scottish relatives) were out hogmanising like mad and Mum, when I, desperately waving a piece of coal at the camera, video-first-footed with her; immediately started reminiscing about yesteryear's Ne'redays (which after the wild non-objective Hogmanay celebrations the night before was presumably the best the Scots could manage when trying to say 'New Year's Day') when auld Grandpa Wullie would line up the family and formally shake hands with each one of them to welcome the new year.

You see that's the power of social reality---if enough people in a community believe that it's the turning of the year then it is, even if it leaves us more objective folk yearning for a tear and whatever objective reality says, as far as they are concerned it can go take a hike.

And the really fascinating (and often terrifying if you remember the bit about social reality often being rather inhumane) thing is that social reality is so much harder to change than objective reality---for the objective all you need to do is to observe---say how mid-nineteenth century astronomers seeing a perturbation in the orbit of Uranus went looking for a new planet, and later astronomers seeing perturbation in the orbit of Mercury went looking for a new theory---easy stuff, but with the social reality it's so bloody hard to change that it often takes centuries or wars or bloodshed or the rack and the fire to change---just look at how slight religious differencesare handled.

Well---with all this talk of change, I wonder too if it's time for me to change and to drop my immemorial essay-terminating catch phrase and say
"Ciao for niao!"
Hmm... Naaa!... sod that for a social reality...

Cheerio for now
Richard Howland-Bolton

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